But I Don’t Feel Like Writing

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Have you ever had one of those days when you were supposed to be writing but you found yourself staring at the screen, whining, “But I don’t feel like writing!”

Let’s explore some ways to eliminate ennui, to beat the blahs, to energize the uninspired and to reignite your passion for writing.


Get back in touch with your love of the craft.

  • Read one of your favorite books on the craft of writing
  • Listen to conference tapes.
  • Read writing blogs.
  • Have lunch with a fellow writer and ask him/her to remind you why you love to write.

Visit a place that always gets your juices flowing.

  • Visit the setting of your novel.
  • Drop into a library just to poke around.
  • Visit your favorite bookstore, buy a latte, and take up residence in one of their comfy chairs.
  • Watch a documentary featuring some of your dream settings.
  • Sit by a stream and write by hand.
  • Find a coffee shop peopled by creatives.

Take a break.

  • It does no good to stare at a screen saying, “I don’t feel like writing.” What do you feel like doing?
  • Maybe what you need is a nap.
  • Could it be you are merely (a) hungry, (b) thirsty, (c) cranky? Can you address the root cause?
  • Think about Thoreau’s extended break, On Walden’s Pond. Maybe you need a long walk in the woods.
  • How about a self-imposed writing fast?
  • One of my favorite books, A Gift from the Sea came from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s week at the shore. Would a week at seaside cure your writing doldrums?

Push through.

  • Sometimes when we don’t feel like writing we’re on a deadline and must use discipline to push through. There are writers who prime the pump by typing gibberish or “blah, blah, blah” until they can get in gear and write.
  • Perhaps a change of schedule will help you push through. If you don’t feel like writing during your regular writing time can you sleep then and write at three o’clock in the morning? The quiet of that wee hour may allow a fresh writing perspective.

Take time for truth.

  • Maybe you’re feeling like it’s just not worth it. You’ll never (a) finish the uncontracted book, (b) get an agent, (c) get a contract (d) any number of self-defeating thoughts. Devour stories of writers who never thought they’d make it.
  • Acknowledge that your feelings (I don’t feel like writing) do not last forever.

Do mindless chores.

  • Cleaning toilets, washing dishes, sorting laundry– these make writing look like a great alternative.
  • If you’ve got a huge lawn, by the time you are finished mowing, you’ll probably have several new angles for your book.

Read, Read, Read.

  • If you read a great book, chances are you will find fresh inspiration.
  • You may want to analyze the craft– just to see how that author handled something.
  • If you read a cringeworthy book, it may just be the kind of kick-in-the-pants you need to continue writing your carefully crafted book.

Review past triumphs.

  • When I hit a writing funk I used to pull out the stack of grade school reader letters, written in pencil on ruled paper, that generally ended with the question, “Do you have a dog?” Remembering my precious young readers was often just the inspiration I needed.
  • So. . . read any reader mail.
  • Read all those great reviews.
  • Relive each of your contest wins and awards.
  • Bask in the applause for a few moments and then get back to work,

So those are a few of my suggestions. How about you? What can you suggest? What do you do?


That X-Factor

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

The X-factor is that indefinable “something” that denotes star quality. In books it’s the something that makes a project an exception that overcomes all our naysaying and all our rules.

At a writer’s conference, when an editor …

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