How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like It

Posted by annastan on July 8th, 2014. Filed under: Blog Tour, WIP, Writing Rants.

This week on the PRANK LIST blog tour: I share my messy bookshelves with the world (including my Star Wars ones) and I talk about using picture book techniques in novels

I’ll be honest. There are days when I should be writing but just don’t feel like it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s experienced this particular phenomenon, right? But the trick is, I’m on deadline for my next book right now which means I HAVE to write, even if it’s the last thing I feel like doing.

I’d like to say there’s an easy solution to this problem. And I suppose there is. Stop whining, sit down, and write.

But sometimes tough love isn’t enough, so here are a few others techniques that have been helping me plug along with my project.

Formulate a plan

I’m not an outliner, but I do write a synopsis of the story that helps me figure out the overall narrative and the character’s emotional arc. Having this synopsis worked out beforehand–even if it’s pretty general–gives me a map to follow as I’m drafting.

Create a spreadsheet

I like to make a spreadsheet of each chapter, including length, POV character, major events, and anything else that seems relevant. This helps me flag chapters that are too long or short, too boring or too cluttered, etc. It also helps me see which chapters I need to write next. (I don’t always make this spreadsheet when I’m drafting, but I always make one before I start revising.)

Make a list

Write down what’s fun about your book, or list the scenes you’re looking forward to writing. This can help make the process of writing the project feel less like a chore and more like the exciting creative endeavor it was when you first started.

Use another book as a guide

When I was having trouble getting into the mood of the second UnFairy Tale book, I went back to one of my favorites, Whales on Stilts, to help get me in the right mindset. Analyzing the book also helped me to figure out why my project felt like it was lagging.

Reward success and forgive failure

Sometimes a reward method is a good motivator–if I finish this chapter, I get to eat a cookie. Sometimes having a daily or weekly word count goal can help keep you accountable, especially if you get others to cheer you on. But if you miss a day or even a week, don’t beat yourself up. Just write out your “what makes this project fun” list and find a way to get back into it.

Do you have a technique that helps you keep going? Share it in the comments. Happy writing!

5 Responses to How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like It

  1. Mirka Breen

    Making a plan (if it’s a reasonable plan) has worked for me, and I haven’t been on deadline most of the time. It’s almost harder when no one is waiting on the other side, but it separates the writer from the could-have-been….

  2. Kristen Wixted

    This is very smart. I like the ideas! I don’t do any of this, and I just may take some of this advice.

  3. Andrea

    I love your suggestion about using another book as a guide. I find that so helpful, especially when trying to work out pacing and plot.

  4. Kimberly G. Giarratano

    I make a scene list before I begin so if I’m not in the mood I just pick a random scene to write rather than go in order. I usually select a fun scene, something humorous. This way I’ve written something and it’s actual progress.

  5. Marcia Strykowski

    Good tips. Deadlines make it so much easier for me, like an invisible coach cracking the whip. On my own, forget it!