What to Do When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

- by ria, on Wednesday, 18th August 2010, 10:30am
A Writing Schedule

If you find it hard to sit at your computer for 6-8 hours typing out the images in your head, then I may have some advice for you.

Sometimes, a routine can help with getting you into the right headspace for writing. This is where an outline comes in handy. Figure out all the free time you have during the week for writing. Make a chart that shows the days of the week (or, use something like google calendar – that’s what I use).  Now, look at all the scenes in your outline and try to guess how much time you will need for each scene. Let’s say a scene a day. Find your first free day and mark in ‘Scene 1.’ Find your second free day and mark in ‘Scene 2.’

If you don’t have whole days to work with, you can spread your scenes over two days. Try not to spread your scenes too far. You are trying to write a book, here. Even if you only have an hour, you can get 500 words done. 1,000 words make a good scene. At most, you should only need three days for any one scene. If you are editing, do the same thing, but instead of scenes, do chapters per day.

This may seem hard, but it’s the only way to get a novel written this decade, especially if you don’t have much free time. Or worse, if you have all the time in the world. In that case, you feel that you have plenty of time, no need to sit down and start yet. Wrong. Start now. Before you know it, your time will be gone and you won’t have your book written.

When that Doesn’t Work

If you suffer from laziness, lack of inspiration, not knowing where your story is going, and you don’t feel like writing, try writing anyway. The only way to get over these problems is to write through them.

If you really don’t feel like writing, don’t write. Simple as that.

I suffer from occasional apathy, and on these days I can’t do anything. If I force myself to write when I really don’t feel like it, I end up with the worst prose and usually have to scrap it and go again when I actually feel like writing. Fortunately, these apathetic moments usually only last two or three days.

Do Something Else

If you think it’s just a passing phase, that you will feel like writing next week, don’t stress. Maybe write something in a blog, write a letter / email to a close friend, write ideas that you may have. You don’t even have to turn on your computer; you can jot them down in a notebook.

If you are inspired but can’t face your manuscript, don’t. Use some other format. Sometimes when I don’t feel like writing, I get an A4 pad (I prefer blue or yellow paper) and start writing (in pencil, fountain pen, marker). A change of scene is great to get me out of a slump. Now, I could just as easily suggest you go somewhere that you don’t normally write, a café, park or something, but I hate doing that. I need peace and silence for writing and don’t get how anyone can work in such a distracting environment.

If none of that works, stop trying. Go read a book, or play a game, get some exercise, clean the house, sew, go shopping, whatever. Maybe you need a break to get your inspiration flowing again. Whatever happens, don’t let a little unenthusiasm (firefox tells me this isn’t a real word – oh well) turn you away from your novel. Give it a week and come back, or move on to a different scene.

Whatever happens, don’t give up.

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category: writing

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