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Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

How to Motivate Yourself Even When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

From Bryan: This is a guest post by 13 year old writer, The Magic Violinist. She says she’s an aspiring writer, but there’s nothing aspiring about her writing. She’s a writer! Enjoy her first post here on Positive Writer and let her know what you think of it in the comments. Discover more about The Magic Violinist by reading her bio below, visiting her blog and checking out her posts on The Write Practice.

I’m sure all writers have had days where they don’t feel like writing.

Or reading. Or doing anything creative at all. I’ve had days like that. Thankfully not too many, though.

In this post I share with you some tips I’ve used to motivate myself even when I don’t feel like it.

Provided by Dreamstime.com

When I have days that I feel uninspired and lazy, the restlessness usually follows.

I’ll grab a book only to read a few sentences and set it back down again. I’ll check my e-mail, my Google Reader, and comment on a few posts.

Sometimes I’ll go to my blog and start writing a new blog post only to realize that I have no idea what it’s about.

In between all this I keep opening up my current work-in-progress just to stare at it, with no idea of what to write next.

The worst part about all of this is that I really do want to write.

Here are some tricks that I’ve used to help me motivate myself:

1) Get Excited

If you want to feel like writing, first you have to get excited about writing. (Tweet it!)

But how are you supposed to get excited when you don’t feel like getting excited?

Well, first think of some things that excite you, get you really fired up, and make you feel like talking.

My list would look something like this:

1. Harry Potter

2. Taylor Swift

3. Chocolate and peanut butter

4. My friends, family, and dog

Of course, there are a lot of other things, but those are just a few examples. If I want to get excited, I’ll pick one of those things and do something with it.

For example, I could read a Harry Potter book, or listen to one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs. Not only will it get me excited to write, but I’ll probably have some ideas inspired by those activities, too!

2) Write

This one’s fairly simple.

If you don’t feel like writing, write anyway. (Tweet it!)

It might be slow going at first, but if you write long enough, you might actually get excited about what you’re writing.

Some of my favorite warm-up exercises are free writing and writing poetry.

3) Take a Walk

Get outside, go for a bike ride, or just spend a little time with nature. Try to do this alone, so you can really observe everything around you. This is one of the best ways to recharge and get your creative juices flowing.

Writing again

After I’ve tried one of these–or all of these–motivational tips, I realize that I can finally write again.

The feeling is almost as good as the one that you get after finishing a novel or another writing project.


What are some of your favorite ways to get motivated when you don’t feel like writing? Share in the comments.

About The Magic Violinist

I am a home schooled teenager who daydreams, writes, reads, and does nerdy stuff in my free time. I have two awesome parents, a wonderful little brother, and an adorable, crazy dog named Scout. I blog at The Magic Violinist. I'm also a contributor to The Audacity to be a Writer. I'd say that I want to be an author when I grow up, but I don't think I can wait that long.

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  • I love your tips! They are the same ones I use when I don’t feel like writing. I find setting a goal, like a word count or a time limit, helps me to get past the restlessness and forces me to get to work.
    Thank you for your beautiful post. Keep up with your writing. You’re doing a great job. 🙂

    • themagicviolinist

      Thank you! 😀 Sometimes I use a time limit for a writing prompt (otherwise I’ll sit there all day and never get to anything else) but I can’t bring myself to set one when I’m writing my novel. It makes me feel rushed.

      • I agree, I don’t think it’s a good idea to put a time limit on when you should finish your whole novel. I find that knowing I will write for 15 minutes and then I can check Twitter or get up and do something else helps me focus on what I’m doing and sometimes when the timer goes off I don’t want to leave.
        It’s more of a trick to stop myself from being distracted when I write than forcing myself to finish.
        I think having a time limit with a writing prompt is a very good idea.
        Thanks for the reply. 🙂

        • themagicviolinist

          That helps me, too! Thanks for commenting!

  • When I don’t feel like writing I still write, even if some of my first words are, “I don’t know what to write…” I know that lurking behind my resistance are words that are dying to come out. Why should I let them remain imprisoned? Great post. I really enjoyed it. I also go out for a walk sometimes and notice EVERYTHING. You never know when an idea will sprout up while you are drinking in what’s around you.

    • themagicviolinist

      Ha ha, I have a lot of those free writes. 😉 I’ll just sit there and type randomness and before I know it I’m typing a scene. The first chapter of my novel came from a free write. I think people offer the most inspiration. I like listening to conversations at coffee shops.

    • Mary

      I recommend the book The Artist’s Way—really helped me with my journal posts and opening up creativity!

      • themagicviolinist

        Ooh, I’ll have to check that out! 😀

      • Thanks Mary, I have not read that as yet.

  • Sylvia Jones

    Nice post! A lot of my inspiration comes from “taking in nature” by myself, as well as while sitting on the beach. Looking forward to reading your work!

    • themagicviolinist

      Ooh, the beach! I love writing there. It’s so relaxing.

  • Great tips here! Though the inspiration may vary ( I often like soothing music and environment) it is always a good practice to keep on writing no matter what. A list, a line or two that may morph into a poem, a word to concentrate on as a timed exercise, any and everything can trigger what is needed to get words flowing free. And if they don’t, not to worry. It may be a call to rest, chill out or set aside for a while. I am awed and amazed at your insight, output on the blog and elsewhere, and the novel that looks set to hit the stalls long before adulthood is reached. Echoing Anne’s words here as I look forward to reading your work in the near future! Blessings 🙂 x

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks, Joy! 😀 Soothing music is always a great source of inspiration. I sometimes have a hard time stepping away from my writing. It feels like I’m giving up. Of course, I always feel MUCH better after taking a break.

      • I’m the same way, well, actually, I can’t write without some kind of music in the background. It must be soft and soothing, nothing that will distract me.

  • As a matter of fact, I had one of those days yesterday! I was restless, just as you said in your post. I started writing two different posts and just couldn’t seem to get clarity. Then I went out to my garden. Being in nature always allows me to “free think” ~ let my thoughts roll and tumble. Pretty soon, sentences form and I am able to go back to my computer and continue. Thanks for the tips!
    BTW, you ARE an author. An author is one who’s words/works are published. Blogging is published work 😀 Keep up the good work!

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks, Caryn! 😀 We have baby bunnies living in our backyard and it’s always soothing to watch them–until my dog start barking at them. 😉

      • Bunnies, Kate? Oh my, hope my wife doesn’t read this comment. She loves pets and she’d love to have some rabbits.

        • themagicviolinist

          Wild ones. 😉 We try not to let our dog chase them (she’s REALLY fast)!

  • Dave Johnson

    One of my favorite authors says, “I only write when I’m inspired. And I make sure to be inspired between exactly 7 and 11 am every single day.”

    Good advice. I’m going to get cracked on my current project with all of these in mind. Great article!

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks, Dave! 😀 Which author said that?

    • That is a great quote, Dave. I usually write between 5am and 9am. Well, to be honest, for the first hour I stare at the screen sipping my coffee 🙂 But that still gives me 3 hours of solid writing!

  • This is a great post! I’ve been having more days like this recently than I can count. I try to listen to music I love that puts me in just the right mood for the scene I’m writing. It also helps for me to just talk to people. If I just have a good time and stop thinking about it for a while, I usually do pretty good. I also love to read. Blogs, books, poems, anything! As long as I’m reading. It puts me in such a good mod for writing!

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks for commenting, Beth! 😀 Reading goods books (and sometimes bad books) is just a good way to get inspired.

  • This is a fabulous post and just what I need at this exact very moment, how did you know!? Thanks for sharing, looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    • themagicviolinist

      I’m a mind reader. 😉 Thanks for commenting!

  • Amazing post! Ironically, I’m reading blogs right now instead of working on my book proposal — gotta go write. Bye.

    • themagicviolinist

      Ha ha. 😉 (Don’t worry, I do that sometimes).

  • Great post! I “met” The Magic Violinist through the Story Cartel course and her enthusiasm for the craft of writing encourages me.

    Magic Violinist – I applaud you for taking these steps at such a young age.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks so much, Joan! 😀

  • I love your first point! We have to be excited, otherwise what’s the point? When I’m excited about my writing, I write faster, better, and obviously have more fun. This morning was an example of that. I was disappointed and surprised when my time was up, but happy to see that I’d exceeded my daily word count goal – after getting up a little late! I haven’t hit my goal all week.

    Nice to meet you! 🙂

    • themagicviolinist

      I say word count doesn’t matter as long as you’re having fun. 🙂 Writing 100 words that you enjoy counts for more in the long run than writing 1,000 words you didn’t enjoy.

      Nice to meet you, too! 😀

  • Want to be an author? Looks like you already are. I want to be like you when I grow up, MV. 🙂

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks, Jeff! 😀 Your blog really helps me with my writing!

  • Really enjoyed this! lmc

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks! 😀

  • Great post, MV! I found reading a good book or thinking of something profound one of my kids told me inspires me the most to write. I keep a journal of the things my kids say that are so funny in order to look at it when I am struggling with writer’s block. Oh, and we homeschool too. 🙂

    • themagicviolinist

      Yay, another homeschooler! 😀 My mom probably has a list of stuff my brother and I have said somewhere. I wonder if she ever uses it in her writing.

  • www.HeadenElite.org

    This seems to be sound advice. I am having one of those days today; mind racing and can not seem to focus. I plan to try a few to see the outcome. Learning comes in all forms…I like it.


    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks! 😀

  • This advice is totally golden. Thank you for sharing!

    • themagicviolinist

      Thank you! 😀

  • JM Randolph

    These are great ideas. My list of stuff to get excited about actually looks an awful lot like yours; I just have Rush and My Chemical Romance in place of Taylor Swift 🙂 Your advice to just write anyway even when you don’t feel like it is very valuable. It shouldn’t surprise me by now but it does: when I sit down and write, words get written. Happens every time, and doesn’t happen when I don’t do it.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks for stopping by! 😀 I’m always surprised by how MUCH I write when I don’t even feel like writing. Apparently words are always at your fingertips, even if you don’t see them right away.

  • Karla

    Hi!! It’s really exciting to know that you’re a teenager and this article is really inspiring :). I’m a teenage girl myself and a writer too so it’s definitely great to see other young people who have succeed in the field, and I agree with Bryan–you ARE a writer!! :).

    • themagicviolinist

      Hi Karla! 😀 Thanks so much for commenting! I wish you luck in your writing and I hope to see more of you. 🙂

  • Christina

    Hey! I just ran across this post, and I must say I was surprised to find that you were a teenager. The advice is inspiring, and very relatable.
    Harry Potter would be on my list as well 😉
    I hope that you keep this up! I will definitely be checking out your other articles.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thank you, Christina! 😀 I look forward to hearing from you!

  • Drezden Archer

    Hey. Great post. Just reading it helped me to get a little more motivated. I know that I love the idea of writing–and I often have happy daydreams of incredible things that I could write, but the first execution of the dream rarely meets my expectations. More and more, I’m realizing that even more so than meta activities (e.g. writing about writing, character sheets, brainstorms, etc). It’s important to just *write* a story–even if I have no idea where to start.

    Also, I heartily agree with the idea of taking a walk. I spend a lot of time on the computer and my life is relatively routine; so exercise and fresh air do wonders!

  • Annie Liu

    I’ve had writers block, but please read my story on WattPad. My username is “TomatoQueen” and the title is “Drama Dream.” Thanks!

    Avalon has always been friends with Brittany. But ever since second grade, she’s been categorized as The Loser of the school – due to emotions problems from her father dying and her mother being an alcoholic – while her best friend is the captain of the school’s cheerleading team. And to top that off with a sour tomato on top, she’s also the most popular girl. They decide to have a sleepover one Friday night and Avalon finds out many things. And one of the things she learns is that both of them have the same crush: Damon. When Brittany decides to throw a party that Friday, Damon and his brother attend, along with everyone in the cheerleading team. Can a simple game of “Seven Minutes in Heaven” change everything, even their friendship? Please comment and vote. This is my first finished story and I hope for it to become published. Please spread the news and tell your friends! Thanks a bunch of tomatoes! And of course, don’t forget to eat tomatoes! 🙂

    “Avalon, we haven’t had a sleepover in such a long time,” I hear my best friend’s usual perky voice say. “Wanna have one this weekend?”

    “Sure,” I reply automatically; the second my best friend, Brittany finishes talking.

    “Wait,” she says, frowning. “Don’t you have to tell your mom?”

    I roll my eyes. “She’s not going to care. Beer is much more important to her than her own daughter.”

    “Just call her,” Brittany pesters me.

    “Fine,” I say, surrendering. Grabbing my black iPhone 4s, the one I bought with the money I earned, I dial my alcohol-addicted mother.

    After 5 rings, I wonder if it is necessary to call her, but she picks up on the next ring. Right off, I can tell she is drunk when her voice comes out slurred. “He…hello,” she says, before giggling for no reason.

    I want to get off the phone as quickly as possible, so I get right to the point. “Mom, I’m gonna go to Brittany’s for a sleepover.”

    My mom giggles out of nowhere. “Who’s Brittany? Is she Lucash?”

    I sigh and slowly, like I am talking to a baby, I explain, “No, Brittany is not my dad. Lucas is your husband. He died when I was in second grade. Brittany is my best friend.”

  • Viru

    Amazing article! I will be eternally grateful to you! Please provide more insights in future. Lots of love to you from India!

  • mora bishay

    thanks a lot for this article ….well two years ago I started to write my novel ..of course it is not as excellent as a novel should be ..but at least I was trying ..my problem is that during school time I don’t write or I mean to say I don’t have much time to think of the story I write and even when vacation comes I am like well I have already lost enthusiasm ,,what will I write or from where shall I be inspired and motivated ,,thanks a lot for this advice shall try it ,,hope for me to finish my thing as quickly as possible

  • Janelle Keith

    Inspiring to know I’m writing like the pro’s, the published, the polished. I do these things too!