Ten Ways to “Write” When You Feel Like Dragon Dung

I have this great post all outlined for today…and have been fighting some blechy virus for the past three days which, apparently, makes me incapable of writing that particular post.

So instead, I figured I would write about what’s top of my mind today, when the weather is lovely, I have several kid-free hours in which to dive back into my WIP—and zero energy and creativity with which to do so.

Helga Weber-2 Photo by Helga Weber

What the heck does a writer do when the body refuses to cooperate with the creative spirit?

  1. Take a creativity nap. Seriously. Ask yourself a story question, write it upon an index card, place it beneath ye olde pillow, and let your dreams work on the answer while your body works on recovery.
  2. Read your work-in-progress. Something about that not-quite-100% mindset can help you view your writing with fresh eyes.
  3. Read something fun. I know you have one—that pile of books waiting for you to find a spare moment so you can read them. Let some amazing tale transport you away from your not-so-amazing reality for a while.
  4. Read something boring but necessary. Hey, it might help you get some much-needed sleep!
  5. Watch a You-Tube video or documentary related to your work-in-progress. It’s work. Really. It just feels like you’re wasting time.
  6. Watch something completely unrelated to your work-in-progress. Did you know that many creative leaps are inspired by seemingly unrelated inputs? The live webcam of that squirrel nest box might be just the thing to spark your next story twist.
    Free live streaming by Ustream
  7. Surf the web. Collect ideas for stories, blog posts, or characters.
  8. Daydream. (See #5 for justfica—for explanation.)
  9. Clean your office. Sometimes I’m not sick enough to take the day off, but not well enough to be very creative, either. This is a perfect opportunity to clear the decks so I’m ready to write when my brain cooperates again.
  10. Journal, doodle, etc. Because you can.
The hidden price of "productivity" every writer needs to know - www.cherylreif.com

You’ve probably read the same tips I have: Have a smart phone? Check Facebook while standing in line at the post office! Respond to Twitter messages while waiting for your dentist! Catch up on your news feed while sitting on the pot! For years, I thought the path to increased productivity was to squeeze in MORE–more […]


  1. says

    Brilliant! There are so many ways to work on a creative project besides actual execution, and I’m glad to see you justif–I mean, validate–them here.

    I hope you’re feeling better soon, but if not, I wouldn’t be surprised if you make great leaps on your writing while you’re sick.

    • says

      I think the break was useful. It definitely helped me recoup physically. I didn’t know I COULD sleep that many hours in a row….

  2. says

    It’s weird to think how many parts of your brain are involved in writing and editing, and that we only notice it when there’s some kind of short circuit. When I got my radiation treatment for thyroid cancer, part of the prep is to go completely off thyroid replacement for a month. For about a week I was fine, then had two weeks where I couldn’t write new stuff but could still edit, and then it was all downhill from there. But it was an interesting insight into brain function (or lack of it!)

    • says

      Wow, you were REALLY sick. I was only flu-ish for a few days. There’s definitely a brain-body connection. I’m glad you got through the whole cancer thing and hope you are 100% recovered!!

  3. says

    I hope you are on the mend quickly. I’ve been recovering from a concussion for over a month now. So strange how I can still win a game of Lexulous but not remember throwing my manapua in the trashcan instead of my empty drink cup. The brain works in mysterious ways…and takes longer to heal than I would have EVER guessed. When does the vertigo go away? I feel your sea-sickness. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery for us all.

    • says

      Ouch, are concussions going around right now? I have a good friend locally who is just getting over a concussion, and my poor sister fell down the stairs more than a month ago, landed on her head, and is only just well enough to start driving again. I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the brain. I’ll keep yours in my prayers!

  4. says

    Great suggestions. I like to dive into one of the books in my TBR stack. Good writing always re-energizes me. Music also works.

    • says

      Ooh, music is a terrific one, too! Thanks for the suggestion :)