Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Don’t Want to Write Today? Five Solutions You Can Use

I always schedule my writing for the morning. But, some mornings, I just can’t focus. I open up my laptop, turn off the Internet, open up a Word document, but the words don’t flow.

Does this ever happen to you? If it does, what should you do?

Should you push through and write anyway? Or should you do something else instead? There is no right answer to this, but there are a variety of things you can do when you are having trouble moving forward in your writing.

Solution #1: Write anyway.

Give yourself a time or word-count goal. I often say I'll write for only fifteen minutes. Those fifteen minutes often turn into thirty or forty minutes. Just the act of writing becomes comfortable and you will find yourself on a roll. If a time limit is too harsh, try writing 500 words. Either way, you will have written more than you would have had you turned the Internet back on and given up.

Solution #2: Change your writing task.

Sometimes I get to my laptop, and my task-list tells me I need to write two paragraphs on agency and resistance, but I don’t feel like doing that. That’s fine. If this happens to you, go down your task list and pick another task you’d rather do.

If you find that whenever it is time to do this particular task you don’t feel like writing, pay attention to this pattern and try and figure out what is going on. Maybe there is some deeper reason for why you don’t want to do that task. Maybe you don’t feel capable or perhaps you are ready to move on to a different theory or method. It will be easier to figure this out once you take notice of your patterns.

Solution #3: Change your writing time for the day.

If your calendar tells you to write at 10am and to go to the library at 1pm, and you don’t feel like writing at 10am, try swapping one task in the calendar for another. Make sure that you don’t just knock writing out of your calendar, though!

Take note of this when you do this, as it may be the case that simply changing the time you plan to write could provide a quick fix for you. If every time you plan to write at 3pm, you don’t, it might be time to rethink when you are scheduling your writing time.

Solution #4: Use a pen and paper.

Sometimes the laptop is just not very conducive to productivity. When this happens, going low-tech can be the best option. Put away the laptop, and pull out some old-fashioned pen and paper and feel the ideas flow.

Many writers find that certain kinds of writing, such as outlining an initial draft, are easiest to accomplish using just a pen and paper. Using a pen and paper is one sure way to avoid a blank screen.

Solution #5: Skip your writing appointment.

Even though I believe strongly in the idea that you should write every day, every so often, I decide not to write. If you are writing consistently each day and one day you just don’t feel like it, it is perfectly acceptable to make a conscious decision not to write that day.

Of course, you don’t want to get in a pattern where you are making a conscious decision not to write every single day. However, it could be the case that you just need a break. It might also be the case that five days of writing a week is not sustainable for you, but four days is. If you notice that you are skipping your writing appointment every single Friday, it might be time to move or cancel that Friday writing appointment.

Resistance to writing is very common. Sometimes the resistance is at a deep level and you need to work hard to figure out how to move through it. Other times, a few simple tricks such as those listed here can help you keep your writing appointment for the day.

When in doubt about the importance of writing every day, remember Brian Clark’s Ten Steps to Becoming a Better Writer - the first of which is “Write.”

Whatever tricks you use, I wish you the best in your writing.


  1. Very timely! I have been skipping my writing appointments lately, and I think #1 is just the cure I need. Thanks!

  2. Good luck, Ann! Let me know how it goes! I guess I could add tip #6: Tell someone you are going to write ... It is amazing what accountability can do!