Tips for Writing Sans Muse

Picture credit: The Bold and the Fabulous you ever feel… not super inspired?  I understand.  (Evidence: that first sentence.)  As I type, there is a five year old with a wad of play-do chattering (seemingly without pausing for breath) about the merits of fiskars safety scissors.  It’s kinda hard to work through.

Distractions come in many forms, some more lovable than others.  The trouble with distractions, though, is that you’re never really without them.  There will always be noises, interactions, hunger, worries, and the days when you just don’t feel like writing.  This is perfectly normal.  And while it’s totally fine to take a break once in a while, a short break can quickly turn into a weeks or even months long hiatus.  Those can be pretty hard to break once the writing habit is lost.

Here are some things you can do to wake that brain up when you need to write, but your muse is nowhere to be found.

Refreshing Things

  • Go for a walk with an eye to setting.  Think about where your characters live and what it’s like there.
  • Read part of a book and take notes about things you like/dislike.  Read like a critic and think about how those lessons can be applied to your own writing.
  • Go to a party, the library, some social setting, and strike up a conversation with a stranger.  Imagine that person is suddenly thrust into the plot of your book and imagine how they would fare.
  • Choose a hobby of one of your characters and immerse yourself in it for a few hours.  Get in your character’s head.
  • Take a wicked long shower (or bath or do dishes or whatever relaxes you) and just relax.  Mull over whatever you’re working on.  (I literally sit on the floor of the shower for more time each week than I’m prepared to admit.)
  • If you’re really frustrated with something in your writing that you just can’t figure out, work on something that requires some degree of attention (coloring books, Sudoku puzzles, Candy Crush, whatever) until you don’t feel as frustrated.

With all of these things, be sure to get right back to writing as soon as you’re feeling refreshed, preferably that same day.

Ain’t nobody got time for that?  If you need to write and you need to now, here are some:

Tenacious Things

  • Sit down with a timer and force yourself to write for a set amount of time, even if it’s terrible.
  • Free write for five minutes the inner monologue of your POV character in a scene you’re struggling with.
  • Skip that scene you’re struggling with and move on to the next one.  You can always come back to it later.
  • Pull out a pack of jelly beans (or gumdrops or M&Ms or Runts or whatever favorite tiny candy) and let yourself eat one for every fifty words you write.
  • Hop online and find some writing buddies to sprint with.  I’m way more productive when I have a time limit and some friends to impress.
  • Assign yourself punishments.  If you don’t write X number of words in Y minutes, you have to go clean out the gunk accumulating beneath the oven.  (Do not assign punishments you would have to do anyway.  Make them special, one-time-only offers.)
  • Assign yourself rewards.  If you do write X words in Y minutes, you get to buy that new Weird Al song you’ve been dying for.  (Do not use rewards that you will get yourself anyway. Make them special, one-time-only offers.)

The most important thing in all of this is to keep going.  As busy people with full lives that probably include things like jobs, other humans, dependent life-forms, etc, we can’t afford to only write when the muse is there.  Time is limited.  So do what you can to make sure that the time you do have for writing is as fruitful as possible.

Happy writing!


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