What to do During a Writing Session When You Can’t Write

For an author, there’s no substitute for contributing to your project’s overall word count. It’s the act of interpreting our random thoughts and ideas into paragraphs and chapters that sets us apart as generative artists as opposed to wishful hobbyists. But what if you just can’t come up with anything? What if you’ve spent your daily writing session staring at a flickering cursor for three days in a row?

It’s not fair to beat ourselves up for not putting out a consistent amount of material at all times. We’re not machines. So for those times that we just can’t get reception on our Muse’s cellphone, here are some ideas to try during those otherwise unproductive writing sessions.

Remember: Only do these activities after you have made an honest effort to do some writing during your scheduled session!

Write in Your Story Journal

This isn’t like writing in your diary about your day. The purpose of this type of journaling is to give voice to all of the frustrations and problems connected to your story. What’s keeping you from writing? How do you feel about not writing? Take the time to vent your frustrations and try to identify something specific that’s keeping you from writing the story that way that you want to write it.


Once you’ve had a chance to vent your feelings, start writing ideas of ways to fix the story. Set a generous timer and force yourself to keep adding to the list until the time runs out. Don’t second-guess any idea. Just keep writing them down. Be ridiculous. Be crazy. Have fun with it. You want to start enjoying the creative process again.


It can be difficult to get where you’re going without a map or directions. An outline can provide the necessary structure you may need to solidify the amorphous ideas swirling around in your imagination. Even if don’t consider yourself a very organized writer, consider this an opportunity to experiment with a new approach to your craft. Who knows? You might find additional benefits from shaking up your creative process.


Maybe you’re stuck because you can’t imagine some necessary detail to your scene. Maybe you don’t have to. Whether you’re writing a historical romance or a dragon-riding fantasy, try doing some research into related subjects. Start with Google and Wikipedia and then delve deeper by examining the cited sources. Of course, you’ll need to be careful that you don’t fall into the blackhole of learning random trivia, but there is inherent value in time spent learning from almost any subject.


Hopefully you’ve created an atmosphere in your writing sessions where you can feel safe to be creative. With no other distractions, you can sit and listen to your music, stare at your candles, watch the other coffee shop patrons, or whatever it is that sets your writing sessions apart from the rest of your day. If all you can do is enjoy the environment you’ve created for yourself, then go ahead and enjoy it. The story will come eventually. Give yourself time, and relax. For this moment at least, you are living the dream of being a writer.

How do you make use of your writing sessions when you’re not able write? Leave a comment below and share your ideas and experiences.

A big shout-out to the wonderful members of my Writers Community:

Christine Herbert, Michele Cacano, Chelsea Mancilla, Jessica Mormann, Naltath, and Jo Sal.

If you’d like to learn more about my Writers Community, check out the following link:


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