How to Write When You’re Not Writing

Coming back from a long hiatus is refreshing as well as slightly daunting. I’ve been struggling to come up with an idea for my “comeback” post. I’ll be sharing some writing advice in this one.

A lot of writers are of the opinion that writing every day will make you better at it. I’m sure they mean well, but I disagree. The frequency of writing should be a personal choice. On some days, I’m just too tired to pick up a pen or a laptop. On other days, I feel inspired to write for hours together. I take a few days off every now and then so that when I do write, I feel like keeping most of it. However, I’m constantly thinking about writing. Writing is not only about putting words on paper – one needs to have a good idea of what to write before uncapping the pen.

On those off days, here are a few things  I do –

1. Book Binge

There are few pleasures in this world that come close to that of finishing a book in one day. In the past few years, I’d been out of touch with reading. Now that I’ve rediscovered it, I find myself powering through books. I usually read fantasy because that’s the genre I feel most comfortable writing in. The stories give me a good idea of what works and what I should avoid. They are also the best source for ideas.

2. Research

Although I’m a “pantster”, I do my fair share of studying up on the go. I generally tend to read articles on what I’m looking for, but how-to videos sometimes drive the point home better. Talking to an expert also counts, but I usually have a discussion with a friend or family member about a topic I’m unfamiliar with.

3. Going on a Quest

It’s hardly as heroic as it sounds. There are several ways by road from my house to the college and I sometimes take a different route to break away from the monotony. The change of scenery is a good creative boost and acts as a spark for new ideas.

4. Logophilia

I always loved the exercise where we’d have to use a new word in a sentence of our own in my language classes at school. Through my Vocab Wednesdays feature and even otherwise, I love expanding on my word stock. I try to work them into my WIP whenever possible to get a good grasp of their usage.

5. A Task a Day

While the apple trick may or may not work, this has never failed to drive my story forward. I experiment with a new thing every day to broaden my knowledge and experience. As a fantasy writer, I have to be capable enough to build an entire fictional universe, which is no mean feat. Doing something new forces the mind out of its comfort zone and unleashes one’s imagination. I find that my story takes interesting turns when I sit down and think about it after finishing my task.


I hope you found this post useful and I’d love to hear your take on it. How often do you write? Do you take off days, and if so, what do you usually do? You can leave a reply in the comments section.

12 thoughts on “How to Write When You’re Not Writing

  1. It’s good to see you back, Nandini! I hope everything is going OK.

    These are all great suggestions on how to keep our creative juices flowing when we’re away from writing. Going for walks is not only a good chance of pace, but it also lets your subconscious continue working on your story (or whatever else you’ve been working on). Sometimes a new idea will come to me in the middle of a walk, and I’ll type it as a text message draft in my phone so I can remember it for later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Going for a walk is an excellent practice that I know I should be doing, but never find the time to.
      I’m starting to think any form of travel is a good exercise for the mind. For example, J. K. Rowling got the idea for Harry Potter while on a train.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ^^ Travel definitely is. It opens you to new experiences, new places and people, and – no surprise – new ideas. I thought of a couple new story ideas when I went to NYC for a writing conference last year. So, you never know what can happen. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I’m feeling a little directionless, but that’s a story for another day.
      Yup, that’s the first thing I could think of too. It’s the best way to stay in touch with literature while not working on your own pieces. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Inspiration Circle – Aug ’16 | Pages That Rustle

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