Author Life

What to Do When You Can’t Write

Sometimes, I don’t feel like writing. Some days, I just can’t write because of what’s going on in my life, and I’m thinking: “A writer who can’t write, how can it be?” That’s the exact moment when I go on the internet and read lots of articles saying that you should write every day to consider yourself as a true writer. But what’s a true writer? I should feel guilty for not writing enough words per day: Stephen King writes 2,000 words daily so why not doing the same?

Being an author is not only about the writing part. If you’re not simply procrastinating, there are many ways not to feel guilty about not writing.


If you don’t feel like writing because you have no idea what happens next in your story, that’s because it needs a bit of outlining. Take a notepad and a pen, and try to brainstorm what kind of scene should go next. How should it fit in your story? Maybe draw a timeline and write down all you know about it.


When you read fiction, you’re not only reading for pleasure but you analyse how the author managed to write certain scenes. Are you stuck in a battle scene? Read action, adventure, fantasy. Do you have difficulties with a romantic scene? Read romance, historical fiction. Reading doesn’t only help you finding out what genre you want to write but inspire you for your own stories. You’ve got a lot to learn from the already successful authors.


A big part of writing fiction is to do your researches. Of course you can’t be a professional in every field, you’re just human. Except if you’re writing about your own experience, you’ll need to find out how to describe a special movement in martial arts, or how to craft a bomb, or else. It’s part of the job to make your story look realistic enough for your readers to believe it.


Some writers will tell you that you should write your first draft without thinking about editing, just write. But it’s not always easy when you can’t write but want to work on your manuscript anyway. As long as you don’t edit over and over indefinitely, doing it can certainly help you getting back on tracks.


Being a writer is maybe a lonely job, but there are plenty other writers out there. Go to writing meetups, conferences and literary festivals. Talk to people online or face to face. You will eventually be surprised how inspiring they are, and how helpful they can be when you don’t feel like writing.

I tried to give you an overview of what you can do when you don’t write but still want to work on your project. Hope it helps and motivates you in some ways 😉


What do you do when you can’t write?
Feel free to tweet me @vdvestelle

2 thoughts on “What to Do When You Can’t Write

  1. I don’t think you have to write everyday to be a writer. I consider myself as a reader and I don’t necessarily read ever day! 🙂
    I like that you showed that writing was not just about the fact of writing but that it was bigger than that! Researches are important, inspiration and diversity as well!!! And sometimes I guess it’s good to let your text for a few days for your ideas to grow and mature. Again I am not a writer but here I make a parallel with the piano. When I was studying a piece, I sometimes had trouble understanding the emotion and the feeling of it. I could practice 2hours everyday during a week and it didn’t get better (very frustrating). Sometimes the best was for me to leave it a couple of days to step aside and understand it better! It always surprises me how much a piano piece could improve by leaving it for a few days without practice! 🙂

    1. Yes, exactly. I think we can make a parallel with all sort of arts. We might think it’s easy to just get the thing done, but it represents lots of efforts. Not only there’s the art in itself, but there are so many other things on the side that we don’t consider.
      That’s also why people will always ask to a writer what’s his/her real job. Because some people will always consider writing isn’t a proper one.

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