How to Start Writing When You Don’t Feel Like It

By Michael

As a professional editor and copywriter, my biggest problem with clients is not that I get poorly written material from them. Oh no, not by a long shot. My biggest problem is I don’t get anything from them at all.

I don’t mind the grammar or spelling or punctuation mistakes that my clients make. I just want them to write something. They’re the experts on the subject, not me. My job is to edit and rewrite. But as long as their wisdom is bottled up in their heads, I can’t do my job.

If you care about something, you can probably talk about it, if you can talk at all. The strong silent types might need a little extra help. But the rest of us just need to prime the pump, to get the words flowing and the wisdom pouring. If your hours in the English classroom has left you with a chronic writer’s block (a problem which is almost epidemic), then learn to write differently.

When writing is hard for you, how can you get started? Write about what you care about, and write to someone who cares.

  • If you have to write about your business but can’t get started, pretend your husband wants to know what you do for a living. Write an email or write a letter to him.
  • If you’re writing a paper for school, imagine that your teacher is really interested in reading every word you write. Too much to imagine? Pretend that you’re writing an article for your favorite magazine.
  • Or pretend you’re writing to your grandmother or your best friend or your long-lost childhood friend.
  • If you can’t find someone who cares about what you have to say, imagine someone who does care. For example, I care. Don’t you feel better already?
  • If the thought of writing an email or letter still makes your words bottle up, make a phone call. Leave a long answering machine message for yourself, and then type up what you said.
  • Call a friend and have them take notes while you talk. Anything to let the words loose.

You may not be impressed with what comes out. But the sooner you get your wisdom out of your head and into your fingers or onto paper, the sooner you can make it better. No chance of improvement until you start.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


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29 Responses to “How to Start Writing When You Don’t Feel Like It”

  • Arifa Ahmed

    please give me chance to write my real painful story.

  • Ashwin

    A great post, Michael. Talking to friend and taking notes is a good tip…

  • Azhar

    hi…..everyone,

    As I am a banker, not a writer at all, and that’s why I always wish that I could communicate my massage to others through figures instead of words (lolz). In other words I am 100% zero in writing.

    Few days ago I be successful in finding out this so great site and got registered here, and now I read daily every ‘daily tip’ carefully. It would be unfair if I dont record my appreciation for you all who always here for help out peaples writing problems. I know very well that this site is specially for writers not for such a person who is entirely blank in this field.

    Actually I wish to have such a person or site that can reproduce my own sentences in different ways, mentioning my mistakes in respect of grammer and use of words. I would really be grateful if any of you could help me in this connection (this text of mine may be considered as my first lesson, please).

    My email address is:

    azhar23@worldcall.net.pk

    God bless you all…!!!

    Thanks & Regards

    Yours truly,

    Azhar

  • nanieyd besh

    at last, i manage to find what i want…
    hmm… how to start writing when i don’t have feeling to do so…
    to be honest…i like to give comment on anything that that i read, view or watch…
    but somehow, i feel afraid to do so..
    afraid? it sounds weird right?
    hmm..
    i discovered my greatest problem within myself i s i have a concrete mental block…i always afraid to put my thoughts inti words…
    yup..afraid…whenever i want to start writing, i always think that i don’t have rich vocabulary..
    i frequently use the same words..really bored to read…
    that’s why i just let my thoughts fly away…
    hee..
    then, it make me feel low self confidence to write…
    now . i realise that i must do something with my fear…
    fear of myself..
    fear that other reader will laugh at my writing..
    because of many silly mistakes..
    huu..
    how can i overcome my low self confidence?

  • Michael

    I sympathize with you, Nanieyd Beysh. My fear was with speaking more than writing. I stammered so badly they sent me to a school speech therapist when I was six or seven. You might be encouraged by my companion post Write First, Edit Later. If you’re afraid that people will laugh at your writing, DON’T LET THEM READ IT… until you’ve had a chance to edit and improve it. Or ask a friend to. Just like you, I often use the same words over and over, so I simply write them down without worrying about them, then try to think of different words while I’m editing and revising. A thesaurus can be a great confidence booster – it gives you many similar words. Have you ever tried Visual Thesaurus? It’s fast and interesting.

  • Citra

    A very useful article, thanks for posting it. Now I have found a new motivation to start writing again. Well, I do have friends and loved ones who care about my writing, so why not write something for them? Thanks again!

  • Dens

    Awesome!
    It is one of my greatest desire to write english confidently. I have been looking this kind of info to help improve my english writing skills as well as speaking because I don’t like my communication skills to mention, speaking and writing. From now on, i’ll set a schedule to browse this site.
    Does this site offer tutorial? Since I badly want to be confident in writing english.

  • cheyenne

    i am still in high school and i like to write but i have trouble figuring out what kind of stories i want to write. i have started many stories b4 but i never finished them and every time i start a story now i cant get very far what should i do?

  • Michael

    Cheyenne, have you figured out what makes you stop writing a story? Do you get bored with it? Do you get unsure about what should happen next? Maybe your internal editor is too picky. While you’re writing, stop caring about what it sounds like. Until you revise it for your publisher!

  • Harsh Agrawal

    This happens quite lots of time…with me….
    Excessive writing leads to “don’t feel writing syndrome”

  • andrea w

    I have so many prior tragities Ihave had to get over – or did I ever have the chance to get over any of them! Approx. 12 “huge” what you call tregities-no one would ever want to experience- I feel to guide others, and for my self therapy I need to write and get these out of my memory bank-somewhat. I don’t know where to begin I mean the ultimate tragity first, loss of loved ones(all of them) and so on-

  • *skippy

    can you correct my grammar every week?

  • Anna Cott

    Listening to music helps me. Especially world music and other inspirational music that helps to generate ideas, images (especially) and story lines.

    If I’m stuck for ideas, I’ll go onto iTunes and download new world music. You Tube is just as good. Try it! You tube is visual as well so you get visual access to amazing world scenes and settings while you hear the fantastic music. Ideas will (hopefully) come to you easily.

    I know music and writing are linked for me.

    Everyone discovers in due time what works for them.

  • Melisa

    i have a passion thought of write, but i dont know how , and who can talk to ? Do you think you can help me to find an assistant or who be able to discuss with me here. Perhaps, that is my last wish that i need to finish it . Because, im not young anymore and just want to complete my dream to start writing. But, i am abit confused . The reason is the journey of writing, which is hard but must persistence. Please help here!
    Appreciate to all of you.

  • rehmat rehan

    even if you write garbage by pro standards it doesn’t matter. recycle the garbage and find gems of wisdom within it. slow and steady wins the race. and what is normally called writer’s block is just an overstuffy ego that won’t let the “divine irrational” demon of poesy out of the bag (or in this case the brain). elaborate and elucidate. something original is better than critical commentary on some boring tome collecting dust in a library.

  • Naomi

    Can you give any advice to a young writer like myself? (I’m only 14, by the way)
    I love writing! It’s my best subject, but it seems like when i try fiction, or even none-fiction writing on my own, it doesn’t come out right. If it does come out right, i usually end up getting writers block after about the first two or three paragraphs, or sometimes senetences…

  • anil

    Hello,I am anil

    dear sir/madam i have no comunication idea to explain other persons.please give some idea for writting of mails so that we have resolved this problem.

    Thanks,

    regards,

    Anil Lohan

  • Brian

    Do you have something to write about? Maybe its a how to guide, maybe its a report. Maybe its about how to start a business, a recepie, even a question!? GuideToStart.com would like to welcome your articles, comments and questions as it begins its online blog community of how to articles, questions and answers. Make yourself known – GuideToStart.com

  • fizul

    seriously,once i try to start with writhing,especially writhing in English, i got this kind of feeling,which is i m really so negative of my ability and finally it ends out with nothing. I think what i really need is the guideline. I hope that you all here can share with me,the tips or if you have any interesting website to look on,just let me know…thank you

  • maya

    Dear Sir,

    I have the intension of writing an article even i tried with my professor who used to say whatever mistake i made.

    To your kind notice i would like to inmate you thatif we what to write an article give us a chance to write by guiding me in the write way.

  • Deo Durante

    In our case, writers, we are very familiar with our own language. However, the greatest fear in us is how to manage well the “grammar” of the language we use while participating in any online discussion , not actually the flow of our ideas or thought . Yes, you are right in saying that once we want to write something we must pretend a subject of our intent. However, this is too short still in order to properly convey the message we have in our mind if we are not at home or familiar with the grammar. Precisely, I am talking about English language. We need to write and write and write and write then read and read and read I think!Thank you

  • Heygo Allura

    i jus wated too say thank you for evthing im african and u have help me lot i write in african thank you !

  • what, does EVERYONE have a name these days?

    I’m supposed to be writing an article for the magazine I work for… but to be honest I’m just completely uninterested with my topic and I just don’t feel like even trying. I know that anything I type now will be bull shit… too bad I have to meet my deadline.

    Anyway, thanks your post somehow cheered me up, not enough to get working, but enough to actually open a blank document… which is a start for me
    so thanks
    I know this comment is useless, I just felt like talking I guess.
    well, bye

  • Visva

    It is a nice article for those persons, who need a starting point to write. It has been seen and self experienced by me that if you start something your half work is done, This article provides that half work and gives us different ideas to start writing.

    Again I would say nice job and thanks for this work.
    visva

  • Mehnaz

    I really love the way how you have expressed your thoughts through words. This is the first time I am reading this site. And I loved it. You have inspired me a lot
    Thanks, Really appreciate it

  • Camila

    This is the first time that i am visiting this website and i find it very inspiring and fascinating. I want put my life story to paper. reading all the letters and suggestions are so inspirational. is there anyone out there who can give me some tips on how to start. My son gave me a beautiful diary for my birthday and i will be using that just to start. i have met a friend from my school days and he said if i feel strongly about writing my life story i must not wait one single day to put it off. I would like to hear about other potential writers.

    Warm regards….Camila

  • Cleo

    Whenever I have trouble starting a piece of writing, I simply outline, or brainstorm, instead. I jot down random bits and pieces of ideas that I want to include, often ending up with messy pages of what looks like junk. Then I leave it behind to do something else entirely – cook dinner, shop for groceries, call a friend on the phone, etc.

    Hours later, I return to those messy pages, with a new focus: cleaning it up, grouping together similar ideas, looking better words to express each topic. Sometimes I do this more than once, for new ideas will pop up each time, to be organized again.

    I often need to allow plenty of time to clear my mind at each juncture, in order to avoid getting all of my random thoughts mixed up with my writing! The challenge for me now is how to shorten the time this process takes, and to keep track of my accumulating piles of notes! Does anyone have suggestions for me?

  • Lorraine

    I really appreciate this Website. It is so helpful on so many subjects. I’m having trouble finishing my Memoir that I’ve been writing for many years. I’m basically a poet but I’m not submitting just now. I ran my own small press for ten years and published poets from all over the world. I know I was a good editor/publisher and I found out that I was also a good writer in graduate school. I find it easier to communicate and help others. I still have a problem when it comes to finishing what I want and need to do for myself. I know that’s a common complaint from my generation. I’m determined, yet nothing happens. I know my material is good and will be very interesting. Oh, well, I will never give up.

  • Stephen Thorn

    I’ve been tremendously blessed in that I very rarely suffer from writer’s block or an “I don’t want to write” period. If anything, my keyboard would probably be glad of a vacation from the pounding I give it. My problem is in finding time TO write while not being too worn out from my daily life to put fingers to keys.

    If I were to give advice to the people who’ve experienced the “I don’t feel like it” problem it would be to connect with other writers — join a writer’s support/critique group, either in your community (preferably) or online — to get inspiration, assistance, advice, and someone who suffers the same trials and problems that you do. If you make some friends who will help you review and refine your work when it’s in-progress that’s great, but the best friends will also be there to encourage you when you need a boost to get down to work. Nothing gets me on-task better than someone whose opinion I respect telling me ‘You can DO it! You’re good at this, now create something great!’

    Go on, readers who want to write — set the keys to smoking and knock everybody’s socks off!

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