As an author, how do you inspire yourself to write when you don't feel like it?
When I don’t feel like writing, often, I acknowledge that there’s a good reason behind it.
I am either tired, something else has preoccupied my mind, or the “well” of creativity needs a little more time to refill.
So I do not fret.
I do not push myself to write because it often backfires (if the well is dried, digging won’t do much good), and I do not regret not writing.
I begin writing after a couple minutes of warming up my brain by reading the last line I had written, playing with fonts, or simply concentrating to enter my story world.
If I was ready to write, my body would tell me.
I would be focused (aka “in the zone”) and I would feel sentences lined up in my mind.
However, if after the initial attempt noting’s coming out, I switch to other forms of writing.
As you know, writing is not just putting words onto a page, but it includes a variety of other activities not limited to:
When I read, I not only learn something new, enjoy, and sharpen my reading skills, but in the back of my mind, I’m writing my own story.
So next time when I am putting words onto a page, my mind conjures what it had analyzed or concocted during the reading period and offer it either as ready sentences to go down the page or function as a guiding principle to influence the tone or style of the new words.
Reading is writing.
Unless, you are an expect in what you write, you have to research (whether fiction or nonfiction) to give yourself enough knowledge so you can discard 90% of the new knowledge and keep only the golden nuggets for your own writing.
Becoming knowledgeable, if not an expert in what you are going to write, gives you the authority to write with confidence, write something useful, and make a difference.
If you are in the middle of a novel, and pretty obsessed about your story, your brain actually writes all the time.
It writes when you are sleeping and dreaming, when you are taking a shower or a dump, when you’re watching a movie, when you’re reading a book, when your’e observing the action or reaction of someone else, when you’re running, or when you’re feeling emotions as a result of, for example, surprise, disappointment, or pleasure.
Your brain writes all the time.
Picasso has apparently said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.
” Watch a movie in the genre you are writing to “steal” some ideas and methods of how a piece of storytelling is done.
Read a book to do the same.
Listen to music.
You can even “steal” storytelling from stand up comedy.
So when I don’t feel like writing, I do not beat myself down.
Tyranny and art do not go together.
I test myself to see if I have anything for the day, but if I didn’t, I would engage in one of the other forms of writing mentioned above.
“Writing block” is a myth.
There’s only a dry well.
Above all, I like running when I don’t feel like writing.
Oftentimes, when I have warmed up my body after a couple miles, I have also warmed up my brain.
So I take notes, literally or otherwise, and wrap up running so I get to my writing desk and strike while the iron of creativity is still hot.
Good luck writing!
1 – Compartmentalizing helps.
Successful people will break up their time and, unless something unavoidable comes up, they keep their calendar, and they approach writing like every other block of time.
Make it a given that you sit down to write.
Sitting down should have nothing to do with your feelings or inspiration.
(Or stand, the internet tells me Hemingway stood to write
2 – Once you’ve shown up, do not be afraid to write crap.
The fear of failure is crippling to creativity.
The first draft is supposed to sound bad.
3 – Sometimes I do what I call gibber gabber exercises.
It’s really just creative nonesense.
It reads like prose poetry, but as soon as it starts to sound cohesive, I change course halfway through a sentence to keep it ridiculous.
I feel a lot more creative afterwards.
It also helps me see that I can write crap, and it’s actually fun.
4 – When I’ve been on a break, usually when my kids are out of school, whether it’s a long weekend, Spring Break, or the summer, I psych myself up when I know I’m about to get a stretch of time to write.
Sometimes that psyching-up seems negative, that is, I get a little disgusted that I haven’t written.
I start to feel desparate, and that’s pretty motivating to me.
5 – For a lot of people, a reward system helps.
If there’s something you look forward to, going out for your favorite drink, ice cream from the freezer, watching a movie… save your reward until after you’ve written your quota (in words on the page or in the time you tried).
Write every day.
Don’t make it the kind of thing you have to “decide” to do.
At least for me, I want to write every day.
And, if I don’t, I do anyway.
Now, that said, I do feel that various kinds of settings and moods are better for various kinds of writing.
If I am tired and feel uninspired, that is a better time for proof-reading or re-writing or planning (for me).
If I am out for a walk in the woods or along the beach, that is a good time for jotting down ideas that will be more fully developed later.
While I think it is worth it to note, over time, what kinds of writing work best in which situations, you never want to hold your writing hostage to your “inspiration.
” If you plan to work on your play or novel from 3–5 pm, then do it, by all means.
Don’t arrive at 3 pm and say to yourself, “Oh, well, I’m not inspired.
I guess I’ll try later.
” Once you start writing, you may well become inspired.
But if you don’t, write anyway.
I never not feel like writing.
Maybe I don’t feel like working on my manuscript, working on my prose/poetry, writing on Quora, writing ‘copy’ for work, etc, but I never not feel like writing.
I really hate this.
It makes it very difficult for me to do things.
Writing isn’t going to pay your bills – unless you’re very fortunate, have worked very hard to get to that point, or have a job that’s centered around writing.
Sometimes, someone could be talking to me, we could be out on a special occasion, or I may be on my way to meet a very important client (that I need to prep for), but instead am compelled to pull out the notes on my phone and write because a thought struck me and my brain goes ‘Oh my god, this has to explored right now.
And sometimes, I can’t go back to whatever it was that I was doing, if I don’t let it out.
Also, if for whatever reason, I skip writing anything (in some form, any form) for a day, I end up really…I wouldn’t say depressed (that’s not a word that should be thrown around lightly), but something akin to that.
Again: I hate this.
Actually, there is one exception.
If I find that I can’t write anything at all, then that sends off major warning bells about my mental state – because I probably don’t feel like doing anything at all during that time.
If that happens, I step away from writing (along with everything else), and pay attention to and take care of myself.
This could be in the form of spending time with loved ones, reading, taking note of and addressing things I’ve ignored but shouldn’t have, or a host of other things.
This could be re-kindling the ‘spark’ that went out by doing things that inspire me, fill me with awe/wonder, make me feel alive, or discovering/learning new things.
This could be gratitude; to stop and take note of the little moments, and thank all the things that make me feel glad to be alive.
I hope that helps.
I don’t really know.
I write for comics, so even when I need a big piece of text, it’s rarely more than a few thousand words.
And half an hour of writing can produce material enough to keep me busy at the drafting board for days or even several weeks.
When the time comes around again to write, after having spent many hours illustrating, (the real sweat and blood labor in comics), to be able to just dream about what happens next, to capture whole swaths of action and visuals with just words.
, why it’s like arriving at an oasis! I love writing!
Straight prose, however…
I’ve done my share of that.
It takes more discipline, but not really that much.
Not as much as people think.
-The first three minutes are the worst; it can be like trying to start a stubborn old gasoline engine, but if you can push through those first three minutes and get the machine turning, then it becomes easy, carries its own momentum.
Push yourself into action and you’ll find yourself in the process, enjoying hours of creativity.
As a writer, what do you do when you just don’t feel like writing?
t depends; sometimes I write about not feeling like writing, or I simply write anything that pops into my head.
Other times I might read.
I’m not in a position where I have to force it, because it’s not an income generator (yet?) and I earn my income in other ways.
Once I even wrote a short horror story about the traffic warden who ticketed my vehicle.
I felt the ticket was unjust so wrote a piece about her ticketing the vehicle of someone who had recently been released from a secure psychiatric establishment and the consequences thereof: healthy revenge without lifting a finger (except the typing ones).
You can make a short story from pretty much anything if you have a vivid imagination.
*I’m just your average aspiring writer, so writing is pretty much just a hobby.
Hopefully only for now.
“Do you have anything better to do?”
“No you don’t.
“You know what, you’re right.
I’ll just shut up and let your precious little characters waste away in the abyss.
They’ll die, wailing that they never got a chance to be alive.
You’ll never finish editing this chapter, and you’ll be stuck here, the events you REALLY want to write out always stuck beyond your reach.
Your hobby will halt.
All penmanship will cease, and all those little wisps of discarded dreams in your OneNote app will be for naught.
You’ll never be able to bring something to life, the way you always dreamed.
So yeah, I’ll just let you skip today and take a day off.
Soon, it’ll be tomorrow too.
Then a weekend.
Then a week.
And then a month.
So, just forget about Freya and Aria and the Vigilante.
And all those characters you haven’t named yet.
Titus will never see the end of his war, even though you’ve planned it all out.
Yeah, don’t worry.
Just take a long vacation-”
“…I’ll do it.
Now chop, chop.
You also have that school assignment due in two days.
Don’t forget about that.
Sometimes, you just have to guilt-trip yourself into doing it.
That’s what I do.
The best thing to do to make yourself keep writing is putting a short of challenge up for you.
There’s something called the 365 day challenge.
Push yourself, because you can’t always get someone else to do it for you.
The first link includes all my best tips.
The second link is a review of a book that will almost certainly help and inspire you.
Remember: writers write.
Gotta show up.
Thanks for asking!
Honestly, you don’t inspire yourself.
Writing per se is not an inspiration thing- it is a matter of diligence, consistency, and basically the intellectual equivalent of running a grindstone to turn wheat into flower.
Not to say that you can’t find more inspiration, but when you have no inspiration, go back, read what you were writing before, and just make some dry, logical stuff.
This is the foundation for your later editing/developing process, which can turn dry writing into amazing writing.
So when you run into that slump, stick to your routine- set an amount for yourself to write, just like you would set an amount of repetitions to do at the gym, or laps to run, and go and write it.
You don’t have to feel inspired to be functional- and function, in this case, results in productivity.
Hope that helps!
I am writing something almost all the time, and therefore when I do not feel like writing, I do give myself permission to be lazy and just not write.
Some people mistake Writer’s Block with the lack of desire, or just plain laziness, to write.
If it gets really bad and the time for lack of desire to write ends up being too long, then it may be time to readdress the idea of writing, to being with.
However, if you are a writer or wish to be a writer, then you should look at it as you would any job; sometimes you really need to take a weekend off.
I have been writing on and off since I was fourteen years old.
In the last two years I have placed 15 titles (books) on Amazon.
Several books are questions I have answered on Quora – so whatever I write, I will eventually publish.
I cannot tell you how much material I have to choose from and yet I am writing new stuff, all the time.
But, I do suspend desire sometimes, otherwise there is that fear of possible creative burn-out.
The whole idea is to be honest with yourself, as a writer.
If you don’t feel like writing, then don’t, but also make sure that you buck-up if you laze for two weeks and you are getting nothing done.
Get it together and just write.
Sometimes, I just accept that I don't have anything good to write and then I either do some research on a topic, lay out some thoughts on the white board or simply ignore the whole thing and do some essential shopping.
Or I might turn around and spend 20 minutes practicing my piano lesson on my electronic keyboard.
Other times, I start writing and hope that the muse takes over and inspires me.
Sometimes she does, sometimes she's gone walkabout and left me alone.
But I have never bothered with that "You must write 500 words a day" stuff.
Some days I write nothing, other days I write 5000 words.
But I do know that once I'm engaged with a book, my mind is always working on it and at some point I will get the clear message to park my bum at the computer and start writing.
Mostly, I have little or no idea what's there bursting to come out, but it can be like opening the floodgates.
I have more of the opposite problem: I like to write so much that I neglect the basics like housecleaning and laundry.
There are, of course, times when I don’t feel like writing something that’s on my schedule.
Maybe I am supposed to be working on a travel article but all that is in my brain is the drive to write an essay on a socioeconomics issue.
Or I “should” be working on research for an essay but I’m drawn to a desire to write a reflective letter to a friend (write, as in fountain pen and stationery).
When I’m not under pressure, I give myself the freedom to write what I want to write that day, knowing that writing anything keeps at least some of my writing skills sharp.
Self-discipline is an important quality of character but not one to be used oppressively.
If there’s a deadline, sure.
I clear my virtual desk of everything but what’s relevant to what I “should” be writing.
Depending on what stage I’m in with the piece, I may do some necessary research rather than the writing part of the project that I had planned to do.
Other times, I create a content outline that allows me to go one step at a time, which is less daunting than thinking about the entire article/story/essay (and, certainly, book).
This is different from self-encouragement.
I can see the need for that if you’re a writer who tends to be highly self-critical or to make excuses for why you “can’t” write.
In my case, it’s self-discipline that works best.
I don’t need to be my own cheerleader.
I need to get out on the field and run with the ball, one foot in front of the other.
All of my dreams contain some sort of idea that inspires me.
My dreams are so outlandish, that I can pull whatever I remember and just start writing about it when I wake up.
Granted, those stories never really head anywhere because as I write them I get inspired to work on my main pieces, but whatever.
Drawings usually hold their own stories.
I mainly draw characters that I otherwise would not have created, since I wouldn't have thought them up.
For example, meet Bailey.
I'm going to be honest here.
Her story was really created in Minecraft, where my friends and I do this roleplay thing.
But still, the more I drew her, the more I thought about her story and her personality.
She was very distinct and memorable, because I drew her so much which gave me ideas to write down about her character.
When I feel writers block, or like I just don't want to write, I just go for it.
I write down words that come to mind, and soon a story with no direction appears.
I make sure not to do this on my main projects since that could really damage the story.
The way I started one of my main stories was just writing aimlessly.
I like clothes but sometimes I really don’t feel like getting dressed.
I have to, though, if I want to go outside.
So “getting dressed” goes in the same place as brushing my teeth, wrangling my hair into an acceptable shape, and taking a shower (Ideally not in that order.
I don’t ask myself if I feel like doing these things.
I don’t even exert much of an effort in getting them done.
They just happen.
These are habits, nearly involuntary patterns of behavior, practices, a routine, a discipline.
That’s where writing goes.
I'm in that spot now.
With roughly 20000 words left to finish a book, I'm stymied.
Rather than torment myself, I turn my attention to the next book which I began years ago.
The genre are different so I give myself a different perspective.
Ok, if that doesn't work, I think about writing a poem, which usually is always percolating in my head.
If that doesn't work either, I turn to music and let my mind drift and channel my inner “weird Al” and formulate parody lyrics.
BTW, AL Yankovic and I have the same birthday, and a similar sense of humor.
Al is weird, I'm just strange.
If that fails, I'll practice guitar.
If that doesn't work, I'll make something for dinner that I've never made before.
Allowing my creative juices to simmer for a while usually helps.
I usually just do what I always do when I don't feel like doing something; tell myself to at least do a small portion of it.
When I don't feel like practicing my sightreading on the piano, I tell myself to only sightread at least half a page.
Lo and behold, five pages flies by.
I do the same with writing; I tell myself that I can at least write two sentences without it being a drag.
By then, I'm already in the writing momentum.
Plus, even writing two sentences could give you more ideas about where your writing's going to go to the point where you don't wanna stop writing at just two sentences.
In a nutshell, it's good to push yourself into work, but sometimes you need to be easy on yourself so that what you're doing doesn't feel like a drag all the time.
Make small demands for yourself, and allow for big results.
Changing your type of writing can sometimes shake up your view.
It is very easy to get locked into one particular mindset.
Call it ‘stuck-in-a-rut’.
You do not need to consider anything as permanent.
You are doing a free float.
By imagining the strange, the beautiful, the unsettling, you begin laying down something new.
You forget for a time, where you were.
These little bits and shreds of thought can get encorporated into a new piece with possibilities and you soldier onward.
Whether it happens or not in a forever way, you are blasted free.
I don’t think any one approach works for everyone, but there are a few tricks I have used in the past.
Tip 1: Procrastinate.
This is kind of a weird piece of advice, but I know that personally I am more of a writer in the morning.
When I’ve had my first cup of coffee and plenty of sleep is when my brain is working and creative.
So if I have the option to wait until the next morning, I will.
I’ll often start a (probably bad) draft or outline of what I want while I am forcing it, then come back to it the next morning.
I often end up re-writing the whole thing.
This trick only works, obviously, if you don’t have a deadline that same day.
Tip 2: Free flow thought.
My second choice method (when you don’t have the luxury of procrastinating) is to just start getting stuff down on paper.
Time box it for maybe about an hour, so it feels like there will be an end and put yourself into the headspace of “there are no bad ideas”.
Mine usually start out with things like “I have nothing to say, so why am I writing? I should probably be making dinner…” and just go until your hour is over, or until you have stumbled upon a good idea.
Think of writing as a muscle and this is the warm up exercise getting you ready for the real deal.
Even if your free flow thought is total garbage by the end of an hour, you’ll have overcome the paralysis of getting started.
Tip 3: Relocate.
Go to a coffee shop or different room in your house so you don’t feel like you’re in time out and writing is the punishment.
You’ll produce better art if you’re inspired.
Go for a walk or (my inspiration spot) the subway.
Whenever I’m trapped underground with no cell service for distraction, I am alone with my thoughts, and I jot them down for inspiration that can be better constructed into a piece when I get to my destination.
Tip 4: Expose yourself to an emotional situation.
Not, like, a movie.
Something that will provoke a passionate response.
It could be re-reading letters you wrote to an ex during a breakup, a polarizing political issue, or a reddit thread on a topic you either passionately support or despise.
That kind of raw energy is easy to get out on paper, and you might surprise yourself with what you produce.
All of these have worked for me in the past as warm ups to get into “writing mode” so hopefully you’ll be able to use them too :)
Thanks for the a2a.
If you're serious about freelancing, you need to look on it as a profession.
An acquaintance’s wife heard me say that and began braying “profeshunnull”.
Sorry she didn't approve, but that's how I viewed it.
As a professional, you must write whether you feel like it or not.
It's your job.
Be proud of what you do, and you'll be encouraged.
Hey, not everyone can make a living doing this, so you have earned the right to be proud.
We're all in this together.
This is a wonderfully interesting question.
The author Peter deVries famously said, “I write only when inspired and I make sure I’m inspired every morning at 9 am.
” I’m my case the answer is that I work hard to write without encouragement, from myself or anyone else.
If you choose to write EVERY SINGLE DAY, whether you are inspired or whether you have anything at all to say, then you are opening a channel and keeping it open for those times when there is something that wants to come into the world through you.
Why not write every day, even if you show it to no one, even if you’re just writing “I’m only doing this because I said I would, dammit.
” You are not, after all, chiseling a one tonne block of Italian marble, are you?
Once I can persuade myself to start writing (it can take months, I follow Graham Green’s method: I write 500 words.
I don’t care if it’s the worst shitI ever read.
When I hit 500 I stop, in mid-sentence if necessary.
I do this (almost) every day.
At some point I go over it & take it from there.
Subsequent drafts get easier.
Of cours a deadline is a different matter.
Deadlines make it so easy.
Trouble is, I can’t set one for myself, because I know that I’m bluffing.
It has to come from either someone I’m slightly afraid of, or from someone offering me money.
I don’t write when I don’t feel like writing.
But then, not feeling like writing is a rare event for me.
I think if I had to force myself to do it, for whatever reason, I’d find another way to earn my living.
Truthfully, when I don’t feel like writing I don’t write.
Being a business owner, I have enough to do to occupy my time that I don’t need to add writing as another “gotta do.
Instead, I view writing as a reward.
“Ron, if you finish this inspection report and make contact with your leads for the day, I will allow you time to work on your novel.
My answer is invariably “Yes!”
Sometimes it’s helpful to play mind games with yourself.
View writing as a reward, not a duty.
You are not required to be creative; it is a gift and a privilege.
If you think of writing in those terms, you might find that you enjoy writing more.