We all have those days. You’ve been sitting at your desk for hours, staring at a blank page, and you just can’t seem to get inspired. Or maybe you haven’t even sat down at your desk, yet. You’re just dreading it. You feel unmotivated, drained, and totally unsure what to do about it.
Thankfully, there are plenty of other things you can do to spark your creativity and get those ideas flowing.
Here are five of the best things you can do when writing isn’t working.
1. Hour of Curiosities
An hour of curiosities is an hour set aside for creative exploration. No writing, just (fun) research. Use this hour to follow your curious and creative impulses. Go down rabbit holes, read conspiracy theories, learn fun facts, and type random questions into Google. Jot down ideas as they come to you, but don’t worry about writing or coming up with anything concrete. This time is all about ideas and letting your creative brain roam free.
If you’re like me and love research, an hour of curiosities is a GREAT way to get inspired. It’s also helpful because it allows you to generate writing ideas without actually writing. In other words, it gives your writing brain a break while still engaging your creative brain.
2. Artist Date
An Artist Date, coined by teacher and author Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way, is “a block of time… especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play day that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist.”
Artist dates are great because they prioritize you and your creative brain. They help you get out of the house and give you a chance to observe, notice, and think. Not only will this help get you inspired. They are also a form of self care!
Here are some ideas to help you plan your next artist date:
- Go to a museum
- Go for a walk
- People watch at a busy coffee shop
- Explore your local library
3. Find Another Creative Hobby
As I discuss in my blog post “How to Maintain a Consistent Creative Practice,” you should have at least one creative hobby in addition to writing. This will help you recharge your creative energy battery because it gives your writing brain a break but leaves room for creative exploration.
Therefore, if writing isn’t working and you want to get inspired, find another creative activity!
- Go to your local craft store and see what interests you. Then, go home and do some crafting!
- Settle down with a coloring book and let your mind wander while you work.
- Do some sketching, painting, etc.
- Find an interesting recipe and give it a shot.
All of these ideas will allow you to be creative without writing. They will leave you feeling energized and more inspired.
I love this option for three reasons:
- It’s open-ended
- It will allow you to rest
- You can engage with writing without actually writing
Reading is a great way to keep your creative juices flowing when writing doesn’t work. Plus, there are a million different options, from classics to nonfiction to high fantasy or audiobooks. In other words, reading supplies an endless stream of inspiration to tap into when your own novel isn’t cooperating.
5. Watch or Listen to Interviews
Watching or listening to your favorite authors talk about writing is one of the most inspiring and re-energizing things you can do for your creative brain. You can find hundreds of interviews on YouTube and if you want to take it a step further, you could even take a class on sites like Masterclass.
Listening to writers talk about writing will teach you about the craft. It will also give you a break from your own work and a chance to mull things over without staring, frustrated, at a blank screen.
Bonus: Write Anyway
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your writing is to push through the resistance and write anyway. If you’re like me, then convincing yourself to write is one of the hardest parts of being a writer. So if you walk away every time you feel resistance, then you’ll never get anything done.
Of course, pushing through resistance is easier said than done. Here are some ways to trick your brain into starting:
- Write about how badly you don’t want to write.
- Find a prompt online. Copy the prompt into your notebook. You might find that the simple act of putting pen to page (or words to the screen) gives you just enough momentum to keep going.
- Scribble. Make a mess of a piece of paper.
- Write stream-of-consciousness. Don’t think. Just word vomit.
With Love, Cats, and Coffee 💖,
The Present Active Writer