5 Ways for Writers to Stay Creative When You’re Not Writing

{Guest Post by Emily C.}

Finding the time to write can be hard. The less I write, the less I feel motivated to write. It’s like I get in a hole of “writing depression” and I can’t pull myself out. But sometimes, even when I do want to write, there’s simply not enough time!

Of course, then I get trapped into thinking “What was I even doing with this story?!” and “Why was I so excited about it?” I absolutely hate the feeling of losing excitement for characters and plot lines I had been so happy and giddy about just a week or two before. Losing interest in your story because you don’t have enough time to be excited about it sucks.

Between school, (home)work, family, and other extracurricular activities sometimes, no matter how many Pins you find on Pinterest, you can’t make time for anything else.

But I’ve found easy ways you can stay excited about your writing (novel, short story, poetry) – without having to give so much time to the actual writing part. This way, when you do finally have time to work on it, you’ll still want to write.

how to stay creatvie

1: Talk to your characters.

Just thinking about them can get you pumped. It’s always awkward talking to someone you haven’t seen/talked to in so long – so what can you expect when you finally sit down to write? If I go a day or two without writing, I remind myself about my characters, and – I know this sounds funny – but I talk to them in my head.

“Hello, love! How are you today?”

“Oh, I’m fine, just fine, really. Only… my dad is worried about the war raging…”

And so on. This way, when I write, I don’t feel like I have to start over with my characters.

2: Keep notes.

I always have a notebook at hand. I write all sorts of things in it – I’ll tape things I cut out of magazines, or copy down quotes I like, or write down character interviews. Sometimes, if I’m bored, I’ll doodle or do anything to keep my creative juices flowing. All sorts of things inspire me to write. You’d be surprised what gets you thinking.

If you don’t have a notebook, grab your phone and type up a name of a street address or character name that you like. And if all else fails, a napkin or receipt nearby!

3: Put faces to names.

I find it much easier to write descriptions if I have a face to imagine when I write about a character. Pinterest is a wonderful resource for all things writer-inspired, but I also imagine actors and actresses as the character. Sometimes I’ll even think of people I know personally. “She looks like Sally Green with Bobby so-in-so’s nose.”

4: Take pictures, everywhere.

One time, I was out shopping with my mom, and I saw this plaid sweater and whipped out my phone. I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is exactly what Catherine would wear!” I could see my mysterious Pinterest-picture-girl (who I’d decided was Catherine, the heroine of my soon-to-be novel), wearing the sweater with a pair of faded jeans and her old sneakers. It was like Catherine, my character, was there, shopping with me, and as soon as I got home, I wanted to write the scene the sweater inspired.

Whether it’s a plaid sweater, a golden sun set, or anything else that sparks your mind – take a picture!

5: Write about your own experiences.

This might be obvious to some writers, but keeping a journal about your own life is essential. I’ve been keeping a diary of a sorts for the past two years now, and I love looking at old entries. Not only is it really cool to see how far I’ve come, the things I’ve learned, etc., it’s great to get scenes going in a story!

I don’t write everyday. Maybe once a week, sometimes once a month, or longer. I make lists of exciting things that have happened to me, or people who have made an impact on me. This tip also bounces off of #2, keeping notes, but I usually use my journal for writing about specific events that happen to me. This way I can really capture the feeling of the experience, and I can use my own words as my character’s.

When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. It’s the only way I can think to describe how I keep the excitement of my story alive. We all have writing “slumps,” so it’s good to take a break every now and then. But if you’re passionate about your story, your readers will be able to tell.

Your enthusiasm will shine through!

You can read more of Emily’s writings on her site For the Bookish.