What to do when you have the writing blues

Sad puppy

Spend 5 minutes on #AuthorTwitter and you’ll see tweet after tweet lamenting the gloomy spell cast over every writer at one point or another. An off day can easily turn into a week or a month, bringing on a bout of depression like no other. I’m here to help. Let’s talk about where you write. For some, it’s bed (warm, comfy, cozy…I know) and for others, it’s a coffee shop, train station, or maybe that corner of the basement no one else uses. Wherever it is, that your spot and you’re used to it.

But that could also be exactly what’s wrong. You see, too much of a good thing is…yeah, you know the saying. Sometimes, a change is what you need to spice things up and throw your brain into gear. Writers tend to find a nook and nest there permanently, but routine can become too familiar and stifle your creativity.

So? Get out there! Pick up your laptop or notebook and go somewhere else. When you find yourself thinking poorly of yourself, your writing, or just can’t seem to find anything to say, a change of scenery may be just what you need to get the brain juices flowing. You ever read over your last chapter and realize you’re saying the same thing over and over again in six different ways?

Yeah, time for a reboot. If you normally write at home, then go outside. If you are normally out and about, then try writing at home, for a change. Do the opposite of what you normally do and see how you feel. You can even change your method! Typists, get off the computer and grab a notebook and pen. Handwriters? You get the idea. Jump on the computer and try typing instead. Do you outline? Try freewriting. Do you normally write first and think about it later? Try a structured outline. Mixing things up will keep you fresh and hopefully keep the blues away.

You may need to stop writing.

No, not forever, silly! Sometimes your block will be so bad that you need a day or two to refocus.

Don’t be afraid to take a break from writing altogether. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you’re not a writer anymore. Like anyone else, you just needed a short vacation. Stop writing, get up, and do something else. Take up a hobby or plan a few nights out or days in with friends.

Strike up a conversation with someone and really listen to them. Observe their body language and how they express themselves. Pay attention to the topics that make them happy, sad or angry. You can learn a lot about people this way, which will give you insights that you can take back to your writing. If you were having trouble writing great dialogue, then having real-life conversations can help you overcome that. Perhaps you were stuck on new topics for your blog. Well, people are always talking, and usually about things that interest them. The more conversing (and eavesdropping) you do, the better you will become at finding topics to write about.

Don’t try too hard. Sometimes the more you overthink the issue, the worse it becomes. Beating yourself up, feeling useless and entertaining doubts aren’t going to help you get any better at writing. They will only weigh you down and keep you from doing what you love. So relax, sit back and ride out the little storms that are often a part of the writer’s life! If the mood doesn’t strike to write, don’t force it. If you want to write, but don’t know what to say, freewrite until you stumble on the right thing (it happens)! Do enough of that, and you will have at least one page of writing to refine into something meaningful. It may sound crazy, but you are far more likely to find the motivation to edit a pageful of nonsense than to create a masterpiece in one attempt from a blank page.

Published by Kim-Lee P.

Kim-Lee Patterson is a writer, editor and poet from Toronto, Canada. She enjoys writing fiction, poems, and Quora answers. To learn more about her editing services, visit www.kimleepatterson.com.

2 thoughts on “What to do when you have the writing blues

  1. I am so sorry for not checking all of my emails all of the time, for this morning I found this gem in my in-box reminding me of what I’ve been missing.

    This young lady again! Kim, Canadian of West Indian heritage, just like me. I have featured this talented writer/editor on my Facebook offering a link to her bio (which actually brought tears to my eyes). Again, I am floored while reading Kim’s writing. The corners of my mouth go up, my eyes squinting into the smile. How fluid and natural yet powerful, memorable.

    I read, realizing that I’m being fed the “tools” of creativity, and that I can also think up countless ways to shake things up regarding blocks/setbacks of all kinds in life. Kim’s writing is received with a smile because reading it kind of feels like a friend stopped by to help you out. Part of the smile is directed to those who will read her blog posts daily (yeah, *from now on* – you sign up for newsletters, the in-box swells, things get overlooked 🤦🏿‍♀️) and who will want/really need their own text to flow just as smoothly. Editor, 🤔 you say? Many may even forgo the free sample Kim offers. All will undoubtedly be satisfied with her services.

    I appreciate not only these great tips for getting past a temporary writing block, but the great boost in confidence offered by a writing “friend.” Reaching your audience is the name of the game, writing with joy and every other fruitful emotion is the way. The “where” is something I had never really considered. I now feel “life-coached,” my experience as a writer understood and my potential encouraged. Thank you Kim 👍🏿.


  2. Claire! If you only knew how much it warmed my heart reading your comment. I’m thrilled that I could help… I have always felt that the one thing I want my writing to do is to make others feel happy. 💕 Hearing what you have to say gives me so much peace. I often wonder along with the whole writer’s community if I’m writing well enough, and then I remind myself that writing from within is all that truly matters. I sense that you are heartfelt and passionate which are beautiful traits to have, especially these days! Thanks so much for saying that and I hope you do know that you’ve put a huge smile on my face today! ☺


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