What to Do When You’re Motivated to Write Right Now, But ‘Literally’ Can’t

Ugh, so frustrating!

I come across many aspiring writers who worry that they either don’t know what to write about or don’t have the “motivation” to get anything done. (And to both of these things I say … just write?).

But what happens when you’re SET and READY to go … and something gets in the way?

You’re totally motivated to write RIGHT NOW.

But you’re about to leave to go to an event.

Or your fur/human children need you.

You’re out with your laptop but it’s dead and you forgot your charger.

You want to sit down right this second and write. But external obstacles are preventing you from doing so.

How do you deal?

First, don’t worry that your “motivation” to get work done is going to pass. It either will, or it won’t. There are times you can decline certain things so you can focus on writing, but it’s not a realistic option the majority of the time.

Second, if you’re worried that an idea is going to “escape” you before you have the chance to nail it down, write it down in a note in your phone. Do it now. Don’t wait, or it will drive you crazy. But once you have it down, it’s OK to leave it alone. Chances are, it’s going to start growing and expanding in your head without touching it any further. That’s OK. If it’s an idea worth pursuing, it won’t disappear.

I also think it’s healthy to let your ideas sit in your head for a little while before you flush them out. I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s fun to let a small seed of an idea sprout into a giant, can-barely-be-contained monster of a tree inside my brain.

You have to practice, in a way, not being able to write the minute you’re compelled to. Because in the real world, you can’t always just stop in the middle of what you’re doing to work on your novel or start composing a song or whatever. The real world doesn’t work like that.

This is why I also recommend writers always block out time in their schedules specifically for writing. Because on those days you do have to set an idea aside for later exploration, you do eventually have to give yourself some space to give it the attention it deserves.

And if you no longer feel motivated to work on it … well. This is another thing we all have to learn. Sometimes, you have to start writing even when you don’t feel like it. Nine times out of ten, I can pretty much guarantee that once you start, you’ll have no trouble continuing.

Writers don’t always have to follow all the rules. But we do have to learn to fit into society’s demanding, often inconvenient schedules and demands. It’s OK. It does get easier, eventually.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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6 thoughts on “What to Do When You’re Motivated to Write Right Now, But ‘Literally’ Can’t

  1. For me, a big part of this is having a backup plan, and knowing what it is.
    For example, I like to always have a notebook and pen with me.
    I also usually have my cell phone, which I can use to text/email myself.

    In many cases, if something else is demanding my time, I typically say “1 minute” and quickly write or type out the essentials of what I’m thinking right now, and save that as a prompt/spark for later.

    I’ve certainly known those fleeting moments where writing just seems so natural, but being able to “cultivate” that state is also an important skill for any writer to learn.

    I think your point about “not always being able to write when we want to” is well made. Granted, I’m a firm believer that one should always be able to step aside for a minute or two, just long enough to jot down the essentials, just enough to help me “remember” later.

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