10 Ways to Still Be Productive on Days When You Don’t Feel Like Writing - Laura Smith

Guest Blog by Laura Smith

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Making the Most of Your Writing Time

It’s true that even the most disciplined writers have days where they just don’t feel like writing. Maybe you aren’t in a good mood, you have a million other things to do, or maybe you’re just burnt out. It’s especially frustrating when you’ve been trying to carve out a time to write, and you finally have that time but not the inclination.

If you can’t write, you can’t write, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find productive things to do with your writing time. In fact, there are things you can do that will clear your head, your work space, and your marketing tasks so that when you are ready to write, you can actually focus on writing.

Below are 10 ways to make the most of your writing time when you don’t feel like writing, depending on your level of mental or physical exhaustion. Hopefully, these will get you through the guilt and sometimes a much-needed break from writing so that it remains a job that you love rather than a burden.

1. Journal

You may feel blocked or tend to procrastinate because of personal issues that are overtaking your thoughts. If that’s the case, spend your writing time writing in a journal. Get whatever is bothering you down on paper to clear your mind for other thoughts. Maybe you’ll feel up to working on some other writing afterwards. Otherwise, at least you still did some writing that day.

2. Work on Your Website or Blog

Writers need to have a website, blog, or both these days, and these usually away from your writing time. So, if you don’t feel like actually writing, at least go through your sites and decide if anything needs to be tweaked or edited. Add pictures, redesign, move items around, and keep things fresh for your visitors.

3. Do Some SEO Research

Maybe you’re blocked because you don’t know what to write about. If that’s the case, do some web searches. Find out what people are writing about. What topics are trending? Look up a topic that you frequently write about and try to get some ideas for new articles, stories, or blogs. Maybe you’ll find some calls for submissions or contests and already have some material that you can submit. Research counts as writing. Maybe tomorrow you’ll find something to write about based on your research notes.

4. Revamp Old Articles

If you blog, go through your archive, and update some old posts. Edit mistakes. Post new pictures with captions. Freshen up your content. Break up long paragraphs. Make it more reader friendly. Add keywords that will help your article show up in searches related to the topic. Incorporate any updates on the subject. Make the article worth reading again without having to start from scratch. You may even get ideas for related or follow-up articles.

5. Work on Your Submission Documents and Online Postings

If you write fiction or non-fiction, chances are, you have written plot summaries for your work. If you are a self-published author, your books are probably for sale on Amazon. Update these summaries. Tighten and clear up your sentences. Restructure. Add quotes from positive reviews of your work.

Take a look at your author biography. See if you can put a more creative spin on it. Add new accomplishments such as awards, publishing credits, degrees earned, etc. Add personal details such as interests, hobbies, and activities. Add a funny line or two. Sell yourself as a person, not just the owner of the name on your book cover.

6. Organize Your Files and Clean Off Your Desk

Writers are the most productive in all other areas of our lives when we’re supposed to be writing. We’ll change light bulbs, dust cobwebs, and take bags of old clothes to the Goodwill. Use that distracted motivation to your advantage. Clean and organize your workspace so that it’s more inviting and less distracting the next time you sit down to write.

Go through your archive of content. Move those documents hanging out on your desktop into folders. Create subfolders inside those folders for finished work, drafts, author photos, book cover images, submission spreadsheets, query letters, etc. Make sure that all of your writing materials are together and clearly labeled for easy access.

Clean out your filing cabinets. Place loose papers into folders. Throw away old or outdated papers to make room for new ones. Maybe you’ll find an unfinished story that you’ll want to revisit. Maybe you’ll find old notes with some good ideas. Either way, you’ll feel better about your work space when you’re finished, and you won’t have anything in that space to distract you from writing in future sessions (besides the Internet, of course).

7. Read and Network

Go to your favorite writing websites, and read articles by other writers. Leave positive comments for them. Take notes if they offer helpful advice or point you towards a helpful website. Follow those writers on their social media sites. Repost their blog or article to your sites. Look up writing hashtags on social media, and engage in conversations. The writing community isn’t like the rest of the social media circles. They’re supportive and will help you feel less alone in the struggle to get your work out there.

8. Make Charts, Spreadsheets, and Sketches

If you’re just starting a book, make notes, charts, and maps to refer to while you’re writing. If you’re artistic, draw sketches of your characters or even important scenes. Look up stock images online to find places, people, and animals resembling the ones found in your book. Make a list of characters, their descriptions, and their role in the story for easy reference while you write.

If you’re writing a memoir or autobiography, make a scrapbook or bulletin board with inspirational materials. Keep it where you write to look at later while you’re working on your pages.

If you need a book cover image or design, make one, or research artists/designers who can. Look up helpful writing services that you can utilize. Research publishers or agents interested in your type of book to query when you’re finished. Plan today so that you’re not overwhelmed with research tomorrow.

9. Go Through Your Bookshelves

Spend some time looking at the books in your home library. Reorganize them. Notice what types of books you like to read. Rediscover books that you forgot you had.  Maybe you’ll get inspired by a long lost book, decide to use a character’s name, or find a format that could work for your story. Look at book summaries and “About the Author” pages for ideas on how to write your own. Note the publishers of the types of books that you like to write. See if you can find some new companies to query.

10. Update Your Query Letters or Make New Ones

Query letters, like drafts, are always changing, and chances are, you have a collection of them. Go through these and see if you need to update any publishing history, tweak your bio. or summary, or start from scratch. Look up examples of good query letters to get ideas on how to improve on yours. Create new versions for specific company requirements.

About Laura Smith

Laura Smith is an author and blogger from Pittsburgh, PA. She has self-published three middle grade novels: The Stable House, Saving Hascal’s Horrors, and The Castle Park Kids. Since 2014, she has blogged for HubPages and started her own blog in January 2019. She also volunteers as an editor and book reviewer for LitPick.

She’s currently looking for guest posters for her blog and am running a giveaway which runs through May 1st. Anyone who signs up for her monthly newsletter will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card.

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