When the Writing Just Stops

It’s so weird how this happens. I’m beavering away, have lots of ideas, am all eager to work and then… something shifts. The momentum completely stops. And I find myself drifting about feeling like I have never written anything and will never write again.


This morning I was up early, tossing and turning because I had inadvertently forgotten my phone at the climbing gym last night (Panic! Disaster! Missing limb!). I waited until a reasonable hour and then headed into town (brrr… it was -28C out there!). The climbing gym was still closed, but the very helpful (and sympathetic to my twitchy, desperate state) woman at the main desk at the rec centre took pity on me and let me in and – yes, there it was!


I embraced the phone and retreated to a table in the still-closed coffee shop to reactivate it  (I had been able to lock it and add an ‘I am lost’ message remotely through iCloud) and then pulled out my laptop. I figured that if I was out and about I might as well sit for a bit and work until the library opened so I could pick up a book that had come in for me.

There followed a great spurt of solid work on a screenplay I’m busy with. I was feeling pretty good at this point. Then I went to the library, grabbed the book, and headed home.


…and then a very entertaining squirrel sent my day sideways…

And then the wheels fell off! I checked email. I stroked my phone. I answered a couple of texts. Checked Facebook. Had a look at Instagram. Read a few blog posts. Watched a YouTube video about a squirrel trying to break into a bird feeder. I browsed through the library book (which is, ironically, about getting one’s social media footprint under control), and then decided I needed a nap before I could get back to work.


Yes, I napped (and no, not just for ten minutes). I woke up all groggy and had vague thoughts about about yoga. About my physio exercises for my elbow and shoulder. About writing. And did none of those things.

I drifted around the condo, trying to find a good place to work. The couch was too soft. The dining room table too hard. My regular work space with a decent office chair too boring. I installed the new operating system on my Mac and made some space on the hard drive. That took ages and, conveniently tied up my computer. Work? Impossible.

We were out of bread, so I needed to bake.


Not that the smell of fresh bread wafting through the house is a bad thing…

And that’s it!! Not much to show for the day!! The evening, which might have been a reasonable emergency back-up plan is shot because we have a Christmas party/bowling extravaganza to attend… So, yes, even bowling is taking priority over getting anything else done today.


In other ironies, one of the projects I have on my to-do list for today is to work on another module for the Beating Writer’s Block course I’m developing for the online writing school! Maybe I should go back to the units I’ve already finished and do the exercises again myself!


Or, maybe I should just accept that some days, a couple of pages on the screenplay is all that’s going to happen. And, maybe the fact I was done before the time of day when I’m usually finishing my breakfast cup of tea and arriving in front of the laptop is actually a cause for celebration. Maybe this was actually an incredibly productive day and what I should have spent the rest of my time doing was reading or going for a walk or calling friends or doing a yoga class or anything at all other than trying to work. Ok, maybe not the walk (you did notice the temperature, right?)

Whatever this day might have, could have, should have been, it’s pretty much over now. The good news is that bowling should be both fun and potentially inspiring (just think, what would The Big Lebowski be without bowling? And, yes, as it turns out, there is some bowling in my screenplay so maybe this evening will, in fact be all about research and not a write-off at all!!)

The Dude: Walter, ya know, it’s Smokey, so his toe slipped over the line a little, big deal. It’s just a game, man. —The Big Lebowski

**Most of the photos today came from unsplash.com – that’s how unmotivated I was. Couldn’t even get myself inspired enough to take a photo of my own fresh bread!

4 replies »

  1. Man, I can so relate to this. I think with so much of writing for me being what happens away from the keyboard or page, beneath my consciousness, in a place I can’t really measure, I find it difficult to acknowledge how productive I might have been unless I can quantify it by time and word count. I’m slowly trying to learn to let go of that restless nagging thing on the inside that refuses to let me look at my work and say – ‘hey, well done, today’s been a productive day.’ But one day I’ll get there… maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’d think that after all these years doing this, I’d have it figured out! But no – I STILL get to the end of a day like today and think… I want a do-over! And yes, you are so right that a lot of our work goes on when it looks like we are staring into space or making bread or… bowling… or whatever. It never really stops, does it? Thanks for stopping by…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can so relate to this, as well. I even asked myself today, “Why am I looking for anything else to do but write?” Then I took myself over to Goodreads and answered the Ask the Author question: “How do you deal with writer’s block?” My response included going for a walk, so I did just that (thankfully it was only -6C!). After returning home I actually worked on revising a story, then did some research for another story.


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