Writing life

Keeping a Writing Mindset When You Can’t Actually Write

If you’ve been around here lately, you probably already know that due to the current business of my life, I’ve haven’t been writing lately. Words have not been going down on paper. However, I’ve been doing my best to keep myself in the writing mindset. I don’t want to return to writing and then suddenly realize that I’ve lost my mindset. So here a few things I’ve been doing to keep my writing mindset when I haven’t been able to write.

1. Keep Your Next Story in Your Brain

I do a lot of brainstorming/outlining/development of my WIPs in my brain, typically when I am doing something somewhat mindless. Scenes play out in my mind, and I try to figure out what happens between them. Characters talk with each other, helping me figure out their personalities and voice.

By having my story playing out in my head, the idea stays fresh in my mind and I can continue to figure out the plot, even though I’m not sitting down with my computer.

2. Let Inspiration Keep Coming

I do not struggle from a lack of inspiration. In fact, I often find that new ideas and characters like to pop into my head at most inconvenient times, such as when I really need to be focusing on a different work in progress. I have a giant Google Doc full of story ideas, some ranging from dialogue snippet to picture prompt to a character idea.

Having new plot bunnies hopping around helps in a similar way to working on my WIP mentally. Instead of diving deep into one story, I can think about the random ideas I have, which helps if I am stuck on my WIP. It helps me to figure out a plot from the bare bones, when I know nothing about it. It keeps my brain asking some crucial questions to plot development.

3. Seize the Little Moments

The other day, I had a few minutes before lunch that were completely empty. I grabbed my computer and pounded out a few hundred words that will hopefully turn into flash fiction (but I have a hunch it will be a short story). Those few minutes helped me remember why I love writing so much. It was also a good mini sprint in getting words on the page as fast as I could.

During NaNoWriMo, I installed the Google Docs app on my phone so I could write wherever I was, even if it was for only ten minutes while I waited for my ride. I made an effort to seize the moments for writing.

If you try to pay attention to the little gaps in your day that you could grab for writing, even if only a minute or two, you might be surprised at the words you are able to get down when you thought that you didn’t have time to write anything. It is all a matter of priority and perspective.

4. Analyze Other Writing

When you become a writer, you become a critic when it comes to books. Subconsciously, you start pointing out all of the areas where the author is telling, not showing, or slipping up in their point of view. It does make it a little annoying when you read weaker books, since your inner critic gets really vocal then. But it does help me to see mistakes in writing and then realize that I do the same thing and then ponder on how I can fix that in my writing.

It is hard when you can’t write even though you really want to. I know from experience. But keeping a writing mindset will make things a little bit easier when you get to come back to writing. I hope that these help.

Tell me, what do you do when you can’t be writing? What are some of your tips?

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