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How to Write

by Maurice A. Miller

All writers, at some point, do not feel like writing. Maybe this feeling comes before sitting down. Maybe it hits when you are in front of a screen or page. Maybe you have a writing practice you are trying to follow, or maybe you have a book you are trying to write, but for whatever reason, writing is the last thing you want to do at that moment.


This is normal. It is normal for writers not to feel like writing. Accompanying this resistance is often a feeling of guilt or shame. We have an image in our head about what writing should look like, what being a writer should look like. We know we should be writing. We know it would be good for us or that it is important to do it. However, even when we understand, we still don’t write, or we do it dragging our feet and without enthusiasm or joy. Writing doesn’t have to be this way. The process can be vibrant and alive each time we sit down to write. The following is a guide about how to write when we don’t feel like it.

When we give ourselves a map for when we feel this way, we will be more likely to write even when we don’t feel like doing so. Using this map will help us approach writing with vibrancy and momentous energy—one word at a time. Staring at a blank page can be one of the most exciting parts of writing, but it can also be one of the most intimidating. At this point, it is easy to imagine what our writing process should look like, how writing should flow, how our energy should feel approaching a project. However, we need to keep in perspective that writing happens one word at a time. I love the story that Stephen King tells about how he writes, in his book, On Writing:

“When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time.”
This is an important perspective to hold throughout the writing process, but it is essential to hold when we are faced with not wanting to write even if we put down one word on the paper that is progress. Set a goal of writing one word. Often, when you put that word down, another will follow, then another, then another. Start with the first stone.

Get physical–write by hand. There is something special about writing with a favorite pen on a piece of real paper that wakes up the muse. Writing by hand allows us to connect with our inner longing to write. By writing by hand, we engage with writing in a much more physical way. By feeling the ink land on the paper, the words come through our bodies. By feeling the curve of a “g” or a “y,” the swirl of an “s,” we gain momentum and energy for the process. When writing by hand, allow your body to guide you to your own particular rhythm. Trust this yourself. Trust your inner voice. Trust your body. Trust your writing process. Write about not wanting to write. I have had some of my best breakthroughs with writing when I write about my own resistance.

Start by writing: “I don’t want to write right now… ” and go from there. There is a reason, under the surface, for not wanting to write. If it is a self-limiting belief about ourselves, or we are tired and need to slow down. This is an opportunity to use times of resistance as a time for exploration. Use writing to explore your own process. Doing so will give you insight into what your soul needs. Plus, you will be writing at the same time. Win, win. Set a word count goal and set a timer. This writing hack is not new, but it works. Grab your phone, decide on a time frame you want to write in, set a timer, and press start.

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