Motivation to write when you feel like a slug

As a writer, I admit I'm not raring to go at that keyboard 24/7. These are things I do when I don't have the motivation to write for whatever reason--laziness, stress, antsy-ness, boredom.

In no particular order:

Small chunks—Tell yourself, I’ll just write for fifteen minutes. It might be an excruciating fifteen minutes, but it’ll be fifteen minutes more than you had before. Then take a break, get distracted, go crazy.

Sit and Pray—Sit in front of that computer and quiet yourself. Remember your desire to serve God with your writing. Ask God for help to motivate yourself to start typing.

Snacks—Since we’re all careful about our health, go easy on this one, but sometimes your brain can speed up while you sit and munch on snacks, or sip your favorite tea or coffee.

Comfort—Take a moment to notice your comfort level at your writing station. Back or neck pains? Room temperature too hot or too cold? Too noisy or too quiet? Bad smells? Too dark or too bright? Adjust accordingly. It might be something unconsciously making your writing station unpleasant.

Time yourself—Write down your start time and display it near your workstation and your clock. Sometimes a small bit of self-accountability will increase productivity. After a while, you may find you’ve written for longer than you thought you could.

Read about writing—Dust off a writing book, magazine, or online article you’ve been meaning to read and dig in. It might provide inspiration, an answer to a tough question, or a renewed urge to get back into your wip.

Listen to conference workshop tapes—Informative and inspirational.

Put in some mood music—Pick out CDs that relax you or stimulate you, whatever you need to get back into that creative groove.

Let aromatherapy take you away—Aromatherapy scents like citrus can stimulate the mind, or lavender can melt the stress away. Some exotic scents or combinations can create a certain “atmosphere” that might play on your creative senses, or perhaps trigger a mood or a feeling that thrusts your imagination into the world of your characters.

Critique someone else’s work—Since you can’t feel motivation to work on your own stuff, utilize the time to help someone else, either a critique buddy or one of the online writing communities like Sometimes working on someone else’s work can motivate you to work on your own.

Change the scenery—Go someplace else, even if it’s a different chair in the same room. Go to another room in the house, or leave the house. Even the backyard is better than your usual writing spot. Go to a park, or a coffeehouse, or the library. If you don’t have a laptop computer, take an Alphasmart or a pad and pen.

Change format—Switch to pen and paper rather than your computer, or switch to an Alphasmart. Use post-it notes or pin notepaper on the wall. Tape up a huge piece of butcher paper or several sheets of paper on the wall and use a marker or a crayon. Write plot or character points on index cards and line them up on the floor, or toss them in the air and see how they fall.

Stretch and exercise—Much as I hate it, sometimes all I need is about 15-20 minutes of stretching or cycling on the exercise bike to get my creative juices flowing. I think it must be due to increased circulation through my muscles and into my brain. If you don’t have home exercise equipment, go for a short bike ride or a walk. Toss a ball with someone or play a little one-on-one. Even shooting hoops solo will get your energy level up and might help you think clearer, be inspired to write.

Hit the tub—If I’m aware I’m stressed, sometimes I’ll indulge in a bath or hot shower. The relaxation and soothing temperature of the water often inspires creativity as it leeches the stress out of my body.

Read a really good book or a really bad book—One will inspire you to write words like that, the other will motivate you to write better words than that.

Clean your house/work area—Sometimes I discover that the reason I can’t write is because I’m distracted by the mess either around my writing area, or the rest of the house. Twenty minutes spent cleaning will not only clear my workspace, it’ll clear my mind, too.

Read the newspaper or blogs for story ideas—But be careful not to use it as a procrastination technique.

If you have any other ideas, please e-mail me. I'll add them to the list. I can always use new ideas to motivate myself.


  1. Thanks Camy! Love the advice-- wrestling with a screenplay, my first on comission (yay!).

    Rock n Roll,
    Mr. Write


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