How to be a Writer (Part IV): how to write when you’re not inspired

We’ve all had bouts of “writer’s block”. We’ve all had those “want to write but can’t” days. But what are we supposed to do about them?  In this post, there are ways we can get past that feeling so we can write again. Because isn’t that what we all want? How to be a Writer: How to Write When You're Uninspired // Writing AbbyWe’ve all had bouts of “writer’s block”. We’ve all had those “want to write but can’t” days. But what are we supposed to do about them?

In this post, we’re going to detail some ways we can get past that feeling so we can write again. Because isn’t that what we all want?


First off:

PLAN YOUR WRITING

This is important if you’re struggling to actually write. What’s worse than staring at a blinking cursor for an hour? Not much. But what can you do when plotting is like pulling teeth? A few things. (You didn’t think I’d leave you guys hanging, did you?)

If you struggle with outlining, planning out your writing session isn’t fun. I understand. But, the first thing we can do to combat that feeling is to not think of outlining as outlining. Think of it as “story-starting”. ‘Cause that’s what it is, right?

If you’re freaking out about doing some serious, 20-page outlining before each writing session, don’t worry. I’m not going to make you do it if you don’t want to. All you have to do is find something that inspires you. (Need some help with outlining? Check out Are You a Plotter or a Pantser for some plotting resources.)

Does your heart beat a little faster when you read a certain quote? Write it down and keep it next to you while you write. Does a particular image on Pinterest remind you of your story world? Save it to your desktop and glance at it when you need inspiration.

Here’s a list of things you can do to foster that inspiration we crave so much:
  1. Use an inspiring picture (like on Pinterest)
  2. Create a storyboard (in your spare time, Writer, please.)
  3. Find an inspiring quote (like on Pinterest)
  4. Write a one-sentence summary of your scene
  5. Fully outline your story
  6. Read through the story you’re writing
  7. Curate a list of ideas
  8. Brainstorm new directions for the story
  9. Talk with your brainstorming buddy
  10. Fill a page with story-inspired doodles
  11. Create a map of your story’s main setting
  12. Create a mind-map of your story’s plot
  13. Watch a movie/television show

AVOID DISTRACTION

Easier said than done, I know, but it’s necessary. I wouldn’t leave you handing on this one either, so here are some things you can do to keep distraction at bay.

Find a Quiet Room

I’ll be the first to admit that this step is difficult. However, if you want to avoid distractions, find a quiet room to write in. You can use your own room, the living room, the front porch, or the bathroom. I write in my closet, sometimes.

Here’s a shout-out to all you fellow home-schoolers, though. You guys are probably used to working with noise in the background. Like kid brothers who like to swivel around in squeaky office chairs. Anyway, I know that I can’t concentrate without some background noise. So, ya’ll are good. Skip this step, you bucket of awesome-sauce.

Check Your Outline

…as soon as you sit down to write. Don’t forget your outline. It can focus your mind on writing, as well as your story-world.

Set a Timer

For some reason, there’s something about a clock ticking away at your writing time that gets those brain-gears churning. Set the time for fifteen or thirty minutes, and get cracking.

Turn Off Internet

If you’re easily distracted *raises hand*, this is a must. No contact, Writers. Just do it.

Set Word Count Goals

If setting goals is helpful to you. I highly encourage you to set a word count goal. My personal favorite is 100-at-a-time. You write 100 words at a time, only stopping once you’ve reached the next hundred mark.

If you’re need help on how to make word count goals interesting, or if you can’t come up with a goal, here’s an excellent tool. It’s called “Pacemaker”, and once you input your specifications (which is an easy process), it creates a writing schedule for you. How cool is that?

Really cool.

Create Checklists

Even if you’re not a Plotter, or a regular planner, these can be helpful.

Create a checklist for each Act, or chapter, of the story you’re working on. Create a checklist for each scene in a chapter. Reward yourself by checking off those scenes once you’ve finished writing them. It’s an easy way to keep track of how much you have left to accomplish, and how far you’ve come. It’s motivational.

You can say, “Wow, look at how much I’ve written. I’d better go back and write some more.” Or, “Wow, there’s still a lot more I have left to write. I’d better go get that done.”

Also, once you’ve checked off a scene in your list, you have the official right to reward yourself with a piece of candy.

FREE-WRITE

You might have heard about free-writing. It’s where you don’t question what you’re writing — you just write. It’s a process used to garner inspiration, and foster creativity. I personally do this exercise each morning because daily writing is a habit worth cultivating, and it helps jump-start your brain.

Free-writing is best done long-hand, but if you prefer a computer, I won’t send my hamster minions after you for doing so. You rascally rebel, you.

To free-write, simply grab a piece of paper and a pencil/pen, deposit your rear-end in a chair, and set a timer for at least ten minutes. Then, start writing about whatever pops into your head.

Are you pondering the white fluffy tails of bunny wabbits? Write about their cuteness. Do you wish you were back in bed? Write about that feeling. Did you have a crazy dream last night? Write down each detail (and cut out that sharp cheese before bed).

If you don’t know what you’re going to write about, write “This is boring” over and over.

WRITE IN THE MORNING

Are you a walking zombie before that morning cup of coffee? Ditto. So, I like to write in the morning.

Like I said before, it helps jump-start the brain, and I find that I’m too tired to notice whether my words are coherent or not. A helpful tactic when your inspiration is stifled.

USE A WRITING PROMPT

There are a variety of writing prompts available out there on the net. If your inspiration is gasping for air, check some of them out.

Here’s a list of writing prompt resources for you:

The Writing Abby “Writing Prompt” board

Daily Writing Tips: Writing Prompts 101

25 Journal Prompts to Nurture Inspiration

50 Writing Prompts to Spark Stories

Writing-Prompts.net

Writing Forward: 25 Creative Writing Prompts

Writing.com: Writing Prompt Generator


So, there are some ideas on how to write even when you’re not inspired. I hope this post gave you some ideas on how to beat the mythical “Writer’s Block”, and I’d better see you writing again real soon.


Tell me, how often do you get uninspired? What do you do when you have “Writer’s Block”?

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