Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Not Today: Tips for When You Don't Feel Like Writing

Writers have days when they simply aren't feeling it. Inspiration is elusive. You're tired. You're overwhelmed. You're burnt out. Writing is a job and some days you just want to play hooky.

So what do you do when you would rather get a root canal than plop your behind in the chair and write? Well, I hope it never gets that bad, but here are some tips that should help.

Find That Favorite Writing Place

We all have this little spot where the creativity flows best. Whether it's the coffee shop, the library, curled up in your comfy chair, or sitting on the deck looking out over the garden, find that spot and spend some time there.

Use a Writing Prompt

Writing prompts spark ideas. Whether a word, a sentence, a picture or a theme, a writing prompt moves you forward. I can't say I use them often (my mind usually has too many ideas brewing), but I do use them when I teach elementary students to write. Here is a link to a year's worth of writing prompts.

Set a Timer

Timed writing sessions are like taking a test at school--you only have so much time to accomplish your goal, so you set your mind to it and get it done. When the timer goes off, get up and go do something else for a while. Then maybe you'll be ready to start again.

Change the Scenery

Maybe that favorite writing spot isn't working for you today. There's nothing wrong with changing the scenery. Take a walk and clear your mind. Pack pen and paper--or computer--to the bookstore cafe for a change. How about setting a timer to allow yourself fifteen minutes to work in the garden. A few minutes away, might be all you need to get the creative juices flowing.

Find a Writing Group or Attend a Writer's Conference

There is something about hanging out with other writers that kicks inspiration into overdrive. You remember your passion for stringing words together. You start thinking about that partially finished manuscript that hasn't seen the light of day in weeks. The next plot point that you agonized over forever, suddenly seems so simple. This is the main reason I attend our local writers conference each year, no matter what else is going on in life. Just that one day pushes me forward for another year.


Pick up a book in your genre or by one of your favorite authors and read for half an hour. Any time you are reading, you are learning about writing. Reading helps you get to know your genre better. It reminds you why you like a certain author. It gets you thinking about style and structure and word choices.

Write Fan Fiction

This is one of those controversial areas of writing. Some people love it. Some hate it. As a new writer, producing fan fiction gave me the opportunity to focus on aspects of the craft I struggled with, and not worry about having to create characters from scratch. The other great thing about fan fiction: it can create a following for you. There are arenas where you can share your fan fiction stories and readers leave reviews. Positive feedback can motivate you to write more and provide an extra boost of confidence.

Perhaps one of the best tips anyone ever gave me is to set up a daily schedule. Time block your calendar and put "writing time" in. If you have to stare at "writing time" when you look at your calendar, it will be much harder to ignore. I hope this and these other tips will find you spending more time in your favorite writing place.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving and the recently released, Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at

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