All writers, at some point, do not feel like writing. Maybe this feeling comes before sitting down. Maybe it hits when you are in front of a screen or page. Maybe you have a writing practice you are trying to follow, or maybe you have a book you are trying to write but for whatever reason writing is the last thing you want to do in that moment.
This is normal. It is normal for writers to not feel like writing. Accompanying this resistance is often feeling of guilt or shame. We have an image in our head about what writing should look like, what being a writer should look like. We know we should be writing, we know it would be good for us or that it is important to just do it. However, even when we have this understanding, we still don’t write or we do it dragging our feet and without enthusiasm or joy.
Writing doesn’t have to be this way. The process can be vibrant and alive each time we sit down to write.
The following is a guide about how to write when we don’t feel like it.
When we give ourselves a map for when we feel this way we will be more likely to write even when we don’t feel like doing so. Using this map will help us approach writing with vibrancy and momentous energy.
One word at a time. Staring at a blank page can be one of the most exciting parts of writing but it can also be one of the most intimidating. At this point it is easy to imagine what our writing process should look like, how writing should flow, how our energy should feel approaching a project. However, we need to keep in perspective that writing happens one word at a time. I love the story that Stephen King tells about how he writes, in his book, On Writing:
“When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time.”
This is an important perspective to hold throughout the writing process but it is especially important to hold when we are faced with not wanting to write.
Even if we put down one word on the paper that is progress. Set a goal of writing one word. Often what happens is when you do put that word down, another will follow, then another, then another. Start with the first stone.
Get physical–write by hand. There is something special about writing with a favorite pen on a piece of real paper that wakes up the muse. Writing by hand allows us to connect with our inner longing to write.
By writing by hand, we engage with writing in a much more physical way. By feeling the ink land on the paper, the words come through our bodies, by feeling the curve of a “g” or a “y,” the swirl of a “s,” we gain momentum and energy for the process.
When writing by hand, allow your body to guide you to your own particular rhythm. Trust this yourself. Trust your inner voice. Trust your body. Trust your writing process.
Write about not wanting to write. I have had some of my best breakthroughs with writing when I write about my own resistance.
Start by writing: “I don’t want to write right now… ” and go from there. There is a reason, under the surface, for not wanting to write. Often if it is a self-limiting belief we have about ourselves, or we are tired and need to slow down.
This is an opportunity to use times of resistance as a time for exploration. Use writing to explore your own process. Doing so will give you insight into what your soul needs. Plus you will be writing at the same time. Win, win.
Set a word count goal and set a timer. This writing hack is not new, but it works. Grab your phone, decide on a time frame you want to write in, set a timer and press start.
You will kick into gear.
A variation of this is to find music and combine songs that add up to the length of time you want to spend writing. When they start do not put down your pen, or lift you fingers from the keyboard, until the music has finished.
If you want to set up a word count goal give yourself something manageable and see where it takes you. For example, tell yourself you are going to write 100 words and not do anything else until it is done. You will write 100 words.
Change up your location. Go to the coffee shop, the library, the car, the park. Go where ever you are drawn to and write from that place. We can get into habits of resistance when in the same place. We can easily get distracted.
By mixing up our location, inspiration is able to show up. Changing location is an opportunity to write, but it is also an opportunity to see our writing with new freshness and energy.
Additionally, doing so can afford people watching, which can be a great motivator and inspiration to write characters, dialog and various situations.
Approach going somewhere new and different with interest and curiosity. When you go with the intention to write and take action by changing places, the intention becomes strong, locked-in and heard by your muse.
Fake it. When you are not feeling like writing, play a game with yourself and ask, “how would the writer I am trying to be carry herself? How would she approach a writing practice? How would she face not wanting to write?”
Allow these answers to sink into your body. Take on the posture of your ideal writing self. Take on the thought process and approach she would have.
By embodying the traits of who we want to become, something shifts internally and we get new energy to engage in writing. Doing so may feel like we are putting on an act but when we start writing, our true power and potential shines.
What you envision as your ideal self is not someone other than you, she is you.
Mix up genre. If you are feeling like you don’t want to write, switch up the form or genre you are writing. If you have been writing prose, try writing a letter. If you have been working on an essay try writing poetry. If you have been journaling try writing dialog.
When we shift the form or genre we can see our work differently. Often the new way of writing creates motivation to write but it also will fit into the project you are struggling with–either by literally fitting in or by helping you see a new in a new direction.
When you don’t want to write, it is the most important time to write. When we are resistant we are also touching into a great potential. Experiencing resistance means we are touching something vibrant and alive, which can be frightening for our ego selves. When our ego selves become frightened, resistance becomes stronger.
Be kind with yourself, go slow and write from the knowing that your great potential lies under resistance.
Write with curiosity–recognize resistance as coming from the ego part of yourself–and invite your brilliance to come through.
It will with each word you write. Think of each word you write, when feeling heavy with resistance, as a weight that your vibrant voice lifts. Soon, with each word, resistance will be eclipsed by the brilliance strength of your creative self.
About Jackie Johansen
Jackie Johansen is a writer who is passionate about getting you moving on the writing project you have inside you. She blogs at Finally Writing, which combines soulful insight with actionable strategies to help you manage time, motivation and inspiration to get you writing and published. If you are feeling like writing is a struggle and you just want to get in the flow, check out Finally Writing Toolbox. It’s yours free and contains resources to get you immediately in the flow and finally writing:) Grab it at http://www.finallywriting.com