Heart Breathings

How To Write When You Don’t Feel Like It

April 23, 2021 by Sarra Cannon

A Writer's Life | Writing Tips

Are you planning to participate in NaNoWriMo in November? Do you have days where writing is the last thing you want to do?  The reality of it is, if you want to win at Nano, you’re probably going to be writing every single day of the month, and the likelihood that you feel like writing every day is pretty low.  How do you find the energy or the motivation to write when you just don’t feel like it?

I ’ve had these days of not feeling like I don’t want to write, too, but over the years, I’ve taught myself 5 tips that have helped me get past that feeling.  In this video, I explain these 5 tips, to help you sit down and write, and win at Nano!

Watch my video with 5 tips to get you writing (even when you don’t feel like it).

Tip #1 – Trick Yourself

Sometimes the task of sitting down to write for 2 hours or to write 1000 words can be daunting and overwhelming, or, let’s be realistic, there’s something else that just needs to get done (the pile of laundry’s calling your name, isn’t it? Just when you wanted to sit down and write, too…)

But what if you could trick yourself into writing for this length of time?  Acknowledge to yourself that you really don’t have the motivation for 2 hours or to write 1000 words, but can you write for 10 minutes or even 100 words?  Yes!  Set yourself a timer for 10 minutes, or set a limit of only 100 words.  Open up your laptop, maybe read over what you’ve written before , and now…WRITE.  At this point, the pressure of feeling like you have to write for 2 hours or write 1000 words is gone because you’re only going to write for 10 minutes.  Once your timer goes off, you’ll think, now that wasn’t so bad, maybe I could do another 10.  Or another 100 words.  And so on… until now you’re tricked yourself into writing those 2 hours! 

Take the pressure off.  Trick yourself and then keep writing!

Tip #2 – Bribe Yourself

This tip is one that really works well for me.  If you’ve been following me a while, you know I love pens, and notebooks and stickers, and washi tape, and Hello Kitty, and even coloured sticky notes!  Find your own currency, so to speak, that will motivate you.  

“If I write these words, I will reward myself with…” 

For instance, if I write these 1000 words, I can reward myself with a Netflix binge, or a nap, or those stickers that I saw online that are now $5.  If you find something that you can use that will excite you enough to sit down and write, use that as your reward.

Find what works for you and bribe yourself!

Tip #3 – Excite Yourself

What I mean by this is think ahead to a part of the story that you’ve been looking forward to writing and write that now.  

You might be in that hard slog part of the story, but if you can even think of one scene, one little micro scene, that you’ve been really looking forward to writing, give yourself permission to be naughty and write that scene.  You don’t have to write the story in order, and it doesn’t even matter if you end up using the scene later or even if you delete it later – anything that you can think of that excites you and gets you to sit down and write is going to be a step forward.  The more you overcome this feeling of “I don’t feel like it” and “I’m not motivated”, the more you’re going to get used to writing.  It’s just like flexing muscles – the more you use them, the stronger you’ll get. 

Find something that gets you excited, and then sit down and write!

Tip #4 – Remove Yourself

This is also something that really works well for me.  What I love to do is, if I don’t feel like writing at home, maybe I’ll feel like writing at Barnes and Noble and being inspired by all the books around me and so my mood changes.  Once I’m in that setting, and have my laptop open, I’m much more likely to write.

Do you have a place you can go to write? A coffee shop, a bookstore, a park?  Or you could set a date with a friend that also writes and go to lunch and write for a few hours at a cafe or even their house.

Get all your things together, pack up your laptop and pens, and notebooks, and go out to where you feel inspired and see if the words will come!

Tip #5 – Inspire Yourself

Another thing I love to do, because sometimes all the other tips just don’t seem to work, is to find something to lift my energy, change my mood, and get me inspired to write again. 

I find something to inspire me – such as reading a few chapters of this book I’ve been reading.  Or watching a movie?  Even if it doesn’t inspire me to write today, it may inspire me to write tomorrow.  Or if I’m not feeling like writing, I may head out to the beach, because that’s a place that brings me inspiration.  Are there places that inspire you?  Or do you go to a play or the movies?  Read a book?  Paint?  

The more things you can find to inspire yourself, the more ways you’ll find to get your creative juices flowing, and then sit down and write!

Sometimes, yes, life happens, and you don’t feel like writing.  I don’t feel like writing, you say.  If you keep saying this, over and over, you could live your entire life allowing yourself to say that you don’t feel like writing.  But if you look ahead at this future life, this vision for yourself, that you really want to have, and the reason that you want to be a writer, you can see how disappointing it will be if you fast forward a year, two years, and you haven’t written a word.  

If writing is something that you really, truly, desperately, want to do, and you are not finding the energy or motivation to write, maybe you can trick yourself, bribe yourself with a treat, excite yourself, remove yourself to a different spot, or inspire yourself, into writing again.  Find a way to write to follow your dreams and get to that life you envision!

Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to get yourself writing when you don’t really feel like it? Let me know in the comments here or on YouTube! 

Sarra Cannon

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Sarra Cannon

Hi, I'm Sarra!

I have been self-publishing my books since 2010, and in that time, I've sold well over half a million copies of my books. I'm not a superstar or a huge bestseller, but I have built an amazing career that brings me great joy. Here at Heart Breathings, I hope to help you find that same level of success. Let's do this.


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