What To Do When You Haven't Written A Word in Weeks

This is Jasper, the little gnome that keeps my carrots company.
A month or so ago, the writing world was all atwitter with BEA and Backspace and all those lovely conferences that mark the beginning of summer.

While there are a few still to come, most of those are over now.

And then we all went on vacations and now we have to take care of our mini humans that are no longer holed up in a brick building for 10 hours a day.

And most of us aren't writing.

Somewhere in the excitement and bustle of the start of summer, we've forgotten to set aside time to sit down and get some words on paper. And as a result, a good chunk of us haven't written a word in weeks.  Weeks. Sometimes MONTHS!

So if you're one of those who hasn't written in forever, what do you do?
1. Don't feel bad. We all go through rough spots. Things get busy, stuff happens, the well runs dry, the muse is on vacation, insert relevant phrase here. It happens.  It happens.  Instead of feeling wretched and lazy, congratulate yourself on recognizing your shortcomings. You now know that there is a problem, and you can fix it. 
2. Set aside some time.  You can keep saying that you'll get back to it when you have a free moment all you want, but until you actually MAKE a free moment, there won't be one.  We're busy.  The washing will always need doing, the lawn will always have to be mowed, and the novel will have to be written.  If you make time to wash and mow, you can make time to write.
3. Read a good book.  Sometimes fixing this writing sludge is as easy as picking up a good book and instilling that sense of awe and wonder that fills you and makes you want to write like that again.   Heck, read a bad book; tell yourself that you can do better than that, and then do it.
4. Read over your own stuff. If that half-finished manuscript has been open on your desktop all day and you just can't face that next blank page; don't.  Go back a couple of chapters, go back to the beginning if you have to, and fall in love with it again. Get back into the mood and groove of your writing. Visit your characters as if they are old friends and you want to know what they've been up to for the last month.  Hopefully they'll tell you, and you can start writing again.
5. When you do start writing, don't force it.  If all you can do is 100 words, that's 100 words you didn't have before.  Try again later.  Celebrate those 100 words.  Rejoice if you can get 500 words.  If you can get to 1000, allow yourself five minutes on Twitter to celebrate with your writer friends.  Set a timer though. And then get back to work.
Take small steps.  After a four week or longer draught, you're not going to be back to writing 2500 words a day.  Build up those muscles slowly so you don't burn out and hopefully soon you'll be back on your way to a finished manuscript!

You can do it!


  1. These are great tips! I go through periods of non-writing. It's natural.

  2. Yep. It was yesterday I realized that I haven't written in weeks. This always seems to happen in the summer. Summer saps my creativity...

    Glad I'm not the only one. :)

  3. How ironic, I just wrote a sentence in my novel and left because I couldn't write. Thanks!! I will now go write!

  4. It also helps if you write flash fiction in your WIP's setting. You can use minor characters, or even your main character if you don't know them that well. :)

    Great tips, Cassandra!

  5. Thanks. I needed this. I've edited and done rewrites over the past six months, blogged and reviewed others' work. I think I've written a grand total of MAYBE four pages of fiction. I know it's partially the post partum depression of completing the last book. That's not all of it. I'm not finding a story that floats my boat as much as my last one did. It's not for lack of trying, either as a lot of the last six months has also included reading/researching and note taking. I worked on world building the other day. Does that count? Please tell me that counts....

    Oooh. Ten on the whine-o-meter! Sorry. Gotta watch that. ;D

  6. Great tips... I write when i can.

  7. Thanks for the post. I had an amazing writing day almost two weeks ago and have come up busted every day since. Partly because I started getting inspiration for a new novel and partly because I'd hit a wall (and didn't know it yet) with my current wip.

    Over the last two weeks I've gone from agony to acceptance to, finally, a whole new direction for my manuscript. No wonder. I'm ready to sit and write. Hmm, maybe now?


  8. I just started working on something new and am easing into a writing schedule after a month hiatus. It's not easy, but these tips are great reminders on how to get back into it. Thanks!



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