When you can’t write, you need writing inspiration of a different ilk. These practical tips are inspired by the best writing quotes from famous writers – and by my experience as The Writer Who Didn’t Get Published. Yeah. More about that below.
First, though, how invested are you in writing? If you don’t have regular encouragement to write, then your muse will wither. Invest in a magazine such as The Writer. Invest your time, energy, and thoughts in things that will inspire you to be The Writer you dream of being! Don’t wait until you feel like a writer…because the truth is that even the most famous successful published authors feel like they can’t write sometimes.
When you can’t write, the first thing you need to do is figure out the cause of your lack of motivation. Writing is blocked by many different factors, from being distracted (the internet, the dirty clothes, the pretty birds) to being emotionally constipated (scared to write, jealous of others who really are The Writer, sad because you’re too old to write). Read Why You Can’t Write – 5 Causes of Writer’s Block to learn more.
Can’t Write? Inspiration for The Writer in You
So many writing quotes from famous writers, so little time! Don’t spend too much energy trying to figure out what motivates other writers, no matter how successful they are. Instead, look within. Or look up.
Build foundations – Thoreau’s quote for The Writer in you
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau.
Perhaps you can’t write because your ideas are fantastical, too nebulous to put into words. Your writing inspiration needs to take the form of practical steps towards achieving your goals – towards putting foundations under your work.
For me, this means batching my work. I’ve been doing this for years in other parts of my life (eg, grouping my errands so I don’t waste time running back and forth to different parts of the city). I finally caught on to the concept of an “editorial calendar” – and now I take time every week to find writing quotes from famous authors and research keywords that writers are searching for. I’m more professional and businesslike in my blogging, which is gold when I can’t write!
How can building foundations feed The Writer in you when you can’t write?
Discover what you believe in – Saroyan’s inspirational quote
“I believe in anything that works,” said William Saroyan.
How many writing tips and inspiration have you encountered over the years? Dozens. Hundreds. Thousands. And yet you still can’t write. That’s because you’re reading tips and then forgetting about them. Instead, you need to actually apply a strategy, consistently, for at least a month.
I believe in God. Much more importantly, I have a relationship with Jesus and have found a well of writing inspiration from the Holy Spirit. When I can’t write, I re-read my purpose for living. It stirs up The Writer in me, and it is turning out to be all the writing inspiration I need.
Here it is…
Bathe in writing inspiration daily – Zig’s quote for The Writer in you
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily,” said Zig Ziglar.
Often, I feel like I can’t write. I feel insecure, like I have nothing valuable to offer. So I wrote my life purpose or mission statement and I read it to myself every morning and afternoon: “My purpose today is to write one blog post that brings light to a dark world. I will address a specific problem, and encourage readers to turn to God for peace, healing, power, and joy. I will share how God is alive in my life…I will spread the good news!”
If you already know your purpose for writing but just can’t find inspiration, read 6 Tips for Staying Motivated to Write From Successful Writers.
Know what brings you alive – writing inspiration from Thurman
“Don’t ask what the world needs,” said Howard Thurman. “Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Does writing bring you alive? Maybe you can’t write because you’re writing the wrong thing. Maybe you’re not The Writer of Vampire Novels – maybe you’re The Blogger for Poets Who Prefer Pomeranians. Maybe the writing inspiration you need when you can’t write is encouragement to write something else. Write differently than you did before.
I probably don’t have to tell you what brings me alive! You probably already figured out that God inspires me, energizes me, and frees me to live fully, write freely, and accept anything He allows into my life. When I can’t write, I go find the wellspring of life. That’s all the writing inspiration I need.
Tell the story only you can tell – Jack Kerouac’s writing quote
“If you tell a true story, you can’t be wrong,” said Jack Kerouac.
Ah, this was the key that helped me overcome the biggest reason I always said “I can’t write”! I call myself The Writer Who Didn’t Get Published because I’ve had two different literary agents and a tentative contract from a publishing house, yet I’m still not published. This makes me feel like I’m not a writer, much less The Writer I Want To Be. Can I be a writer without being traditionally published in print? No. So I stopped writing for this blog (formerly known as Quips and Tips for Successful Writers, now The Bounce Back Babe).
How can I offer writing inspiration if I can’t even get my books traditionally published? By telling my story even if I don’t have a literary agent or a publisher. By sharing myself with you. In Learning to Write Without Fear and Trembling I describe how difficult – and how rewarding – it’s been to tell my stories.
A final quote for inspiration when you can’t write – Dillard
“A work in progress quickly becomes feral,” said Annie Dillard. “It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, “Simba!”
Your writing is something to be respected. It is wild and holy (like Jesus!), full of possibility and sizzle (like Jesus). Never approach your writing lightly. Honor your writing with your time and your energy, even when you feel like you can’t write.
You are The Writer you’ve always wanted to be…even if you don’t feel like it. Are you so stuck, so blocked, or so scared that you hate writing? Read How to Love Writing.
I welcome your thoughts on what to do when you can’t write, or finding writing inspiration, or these writing quotes, or God!
Stay in touch!
Feel alone? Join our tangled garden of wildflowers:
Go in peace, fellow scribes. Write what you need to say and what you want to read. Find your source of inspiration, and hold on tight.