Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

When Non-Writing Days Proliferate

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Girl sleeping - she's definitely having a non-writing day...

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

This month we’ve been talking about non-writing days – those days when you just don’t want to sit down to the page.

All of us have days like that. As Creativity mentioned in her post last week, there’s no need to panic if you’re having one. There are plenty of other things you and your Creativity can do for that day.

A little rest and relaxation often does you and your Creativity wonders, leaving you refreshed and ready to get back to writing tomorrow.

But what happens when those non-writing days start to proliferate? What about when you’re having non-writing weeks? Or non-writing months?

When that starts happening, you know the situation is becoming more serious.

There could be several reasons why you and your Creativity aren’t interested in writing. Let’s have a look at a few of them.


The most likely reason is something has spooked you. For some reason you’re worried about sitting down and writing.

Perhaps your mind is spinning those ol’ thoughts about how your writing isn’t good enough and how you don’t have anything worth writing about.

How can you tell if fear is the cause of your problem?

Warning Signs

  • You wake up feeling great, but the very idea of writing suddenly makes you feel ill or tired.
  • You try writing, but you feel really tired. When you get up from your desk and do something else, you suddenly feel fine again.
  • You try writing, but your stomach is rumbling. You feel like you’ve just got to eat even though it’s only half an hour since your last meal.
  • As you try to write, you hear the voice of your Inner Critic picking holes in your words.
  • You find yourself editing your words as you write them.

If that’s sounding at all familiar, then your problem is likely fear of the page.

What Should You Do?

You’ll need to work through your fears, firstly identifying them and then deciding how you’re going to overcome them.

There are more details on how you can go about doing that in Creativity’s post Creative Action: Freewrite About Your Fears.

Physical Exhaustion

Another cause of writing problems is physical exhaustion. This often happens because we put our writing time low on our list of priorities and can only get around to the page at the very end of our day.

You’re never at your best when you’re physically tired, so your writing will naturally suffer.

Warning Signs

  • You feel tired before you start writing.
  • You feel tired while you’re writing.
  • You feel tired when you get up from your writing.
  • You fall asleep while you’re writing.

What Should You Do?

You need some rest. Go to bed early or have a nap. There’s no point pushing yourself.

Try scheduling your writing earlier in the day when you’re feeling fresher.

Mental Exhaustion

Creative acts, like writing, require brain space. If your brain is already crammed full of thoughts from your day, or your brain fuel has already been spent on other activities, then writing will be a chore.

Writing is not something you can usually do on autopilot. It requires concentration and emotional investment. If you’re not able to give that, then your writing will show it.

Warning Signs

  • You find yourself writing To Do Lists rather than your novel.
  • You can’t remember your main character’s name, defining physical features or personality quirks.
  • When you sit down to write, you feel like it’s the first time you’ve stopped all day.

What Should You Do?

Make sure you’re not using your writing time as your sole down time. Find times in your schedule where you can pause from your busy life to walk in the park, read a book or have a good soak in the tub. (If you’re looking for more suggestions, try the e-book Tips for Those Contemplating Insanity.)

Mental exhaustion should not be ignored as it can eventually lead to other problems (such as prolonged fatigue and breakdowns). Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and giving your mind as well as your body regular opportunities to rest.

Creative Exhaustion

Creativities also need their down time. Without regular refilling of the creative well, your Creativity may find her/himself winding down – perhaps even too tired or stressed to continue producing the ideas and inspiration you’re relying on.

Warning Signs

  • Ideas do not flow regularly and freely.
  • Ideas become clichéd and lose their variety.
  • You don’t receive sudden, random sparks of inspiration at awkward times (in the shower, just before bed).

What Should You Do?

Your Creativity needs some attention – perhaps even a holiday. Take the pressure off. You may even have to remove some deadlines.

Find yourself some creatively refreshing activities, like reading or traveling, to rejuvenate your Creativity and refill your creative well.

Take Care of Yourself and Your Creativity

As you can see, if you’re suffering from a proliferation of non-writing days, don’t ignore them. Don’t keep pushing.

Take a little time to look for the cause and then start making some changes.

If you’re having trouble with mental or creative exhaustion, then you’ll love the announcement I’ll be making next week. Stay tuned!

What about you? Have you experienced any of the above symptoms in your writing life?


Author: Jessica

I'm a writer who refuses to pin myself down to one genre, hopping from science-fiction and fantasy through to literary and even the odd western now and then. Check out what I've written at or follow me on Twitter @jessbaverstock.

One thought on “When Non-Writing Days Proliferate

  1. Pingback: Releasing the Creative Cleanse E-mail Course for Writers | Creativity's Workshop

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