How to Write When You Don’t Wanna Write (As Told By Other Writers)

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How to Write When You Don’t Wanna Write (As Told By Other Writers)
Photo by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 / Unsplash

I’ve been in a slump lately. Ideas are flowing, that’s not the problem. I have zero desire to sit down and actually write the things. I call this strange feeling The Funk™️.

Feeling stuck, I reached out to a number of writers’ whose work I greatly admire and asked them a simple question: How do I get out of The Funk™️?

These are their gracious answers (published in no particular order with the writer’s permission):

Compartmentalize. Sit yourself down for 15 mins at a time. Write furiously for those 15 mins, and don’t worry if it’s any good or not. Eventually something should emerge, right? Or you do my proven method: Wake up early, have a long hot shower, make yourself a big black coffee, sit down at your computer, slap yourself across the face and then, very sternly and seriously, say out loud to yourself, “Ok, be funny”.
-Chaz Hutton
Write shitty shit. Trust your technical abilities to write something moderately sensible, moderately coherent. Write some shitty shit. Warm up your fingers and assume you will never look at it again. See if that helps.
-Oliver “Shiny” Blakemore
I almost always have a running notepad app list of story ideas. The really good ones get written right away and the bad ones just kind of hang out there until I need to write something — ANYTHING. To pump myself up I go on Medium and try to find the absolute worst quality story recommended for me to remind myself that I’m probably my own biggest critic.

I know it’s not groundbreaking advice or particularly nice but it does the trick. Especially when Medium thinks you want to read a poem that is actually just plagiarized Airborne Toxic Event lyrics.
-Devon Henry
Turn off wi-fi.
-Ryan Luikens
Sometimes I need to let an idea sit in my mind so I can marinate on it and let it develop. Maybe this takes a few days, maybe a week, maybe longer. Other times, if I feel like I have somewhat of a grasp on the idea and I feel like I need to write SOMETHING, I write shit even if it’s a struggle. Sometimes it will actually turn into something good, and if not, it at least allows me to put the idea to rest. (This is also why I have so many unfinished drafts…)
-Stella J. McKenna
When my ideas don’t jump at me, I sometimes just let them sit. Write something you are excited about. Use the time to read, soak up and marinate.
-Ernio Hernandez
Sometimes it’s not that you don’t feel like writing. You don’t feel like writing *that* story. Find those stories that excite you, that you want to shout to the world, that you want to make love to. That you can’t help but to write.
-Alexandro Chen
One thing that sometimes works for me is to write something just for me that I don’t plan to show anyone, like a journal entry or a silly story. That helps me get out of my own head and gives me momentum to write something better.
-Jessica Jungton
If you’ve never read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield or Do the Work (also by Pressfield) then I HIGHLY encourage you to read it. I re-read portions of the War of Artyearly and practically ruined my copy by highlights, notes, and just battered use over time.
-Benjamin Sledge
My corner desk is my fav place now. To be honest, I just sit and start if I had a break in writing. I do not know what I’d be writing, and which way my words will take me, but I just sit and start. Maybe about the day, something that I ate, something that I saw, anything. The other day I saw someone smiling, and his teeth shone like something I’ve never seen before. I guess he had a cleaning done which also made him smile more. I wrote about that. Even if nothing comes out of my writing, at least that mental block that I’m constipated is away. Constipated is a bad word, I know!
-Sravani Saha
Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!