Writer’s block happens. And let me be clear: I don’t believe in writer’s block as an excuse for not writing. Most of the time, when a writer self-diagnoses writer’s block, it’s really a case of I-should-be-writing-but-I’d-rather-be-doing-something-else or my-muse-has-left-the-building-and-I’m-too-lazy-to-look-for-her.
There’s never an excuse for not writing, but there are times when the best course of action is to take a break and do something else. If you’ve been writing all day, then you deserve a break. If you pumped out 10,000 words this week, then you deserve to put down your notebook or step away from that work-in-progress, give your writing muscles a good rest, and engage in non-writing activities.
What you’re about to get are a bunch of writing activities that don’t require you to sit at your computer staring at a blinking cursor for hours on end.
But you’re still a writer, so here’s the catch: you tackle these activities in a way that only a writer would.
23 Writing Activities That Don’t Involve Writing (but Involve Thinking Like a Writer)
Leave your keyboard, notebook, and pen behind, but keep your writerly head on your shoulders as you scoot through these creative writing activities. The idea is to engage in actions that can shape and inform your writing, so try to look at everything through your writer’s lens.
- Read. This is the most obvious non-writing writerly thing you can do. Catch up on your subscriptions, pick up a good novel, or take a stab at reading a book on writing. Don’t forget to put your feet up!
- Observe. Do a little people-watching at your favorite café or at a park. Listen in on some interesting conversations and get ideas for dialogue. Notice people’s body language so you can bring it into your narrative.
- Get up and move that body. Yes, the writer’s creed in the 21st century is butt In chair, but if you want to keep that butt in shape, you’ve got to get off it every once in a while. Go for a walk, do a little dance, make a little love.
- Cook and/or eat. But here’s the catch — make it something special: one of your favorite dishes or restaurants or that new recipe you’ve been dying to try but just haven’t had time. Cooking and eating are sensual activities (because they engage your senses!), so think up descriptions for the food. How does it look, taste, sound (sizzle), and smell?
- Watch a movie. There are tons of great films about writers. Here are a few to get you started: Misery, Stranger Than Fiction, or Throw Mama from the Train.
- Do a crossword puzzle. This is kind of a cheat because you sort of have to write to fill it in (unless you’re using a digital crossword). Word puzzles are a great way to build your vocabulary!
- Play a game. I love logic games. Clue is my favorite because it’s a thinking game and you get to make a matrix (f only making a matrix was as cool as it sounds!). In any case, there are lots of brain-games that promote thinking. Play them.
- Take a stroll down memory lane. Have you ever set aside some time to go through your old notebooks and files? It’s enlightening on many levels. You’ll come across that poem that you always thought was so profound only to discover that now it sounds like a tween rant. You’ll stumble over a short story you thought sucked but now makes you laugh. You’ll realize how much your writing has improved, but you’ll also find treasures that showcase your raw talent. You might even find some old projects that are worth resurrecting.
- Remember your other hobbies? Now would be a good time to pick one of those back up, even if it’s just for the day.
- Fix your website. I mean it: fix your website. Log out of your site and then check it out as a visitor. I guarantee you’ll find something to add or update. Compare it against some of your favorite writers’ websites. Are you missing anything? Got too much going on?
- Work on your five-year plan. Some novelists spend a decade writing a single book. Surely, you can work out your writing (and non-writing) goals for the next five years.
- Geek out. You know that thing you used to be obsessed with (and maybe still are)? You know what I’m talking about. You bought the action figures. Yeah, go enjoy that some more.
- Try something new. Do something you’ve never done but have always wanted to do.
- Try something even newer — something you’ve never dreamt of doing. Maybe even something you’re a little scared of doing. Take a risk.
- Spend some time supporting fellow writers. Promote them on social media, buy their books, post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Head down to your favorite indie bookstore and buy a book.
- Attend an event. You know, a writing event. A poetry reading, a book signing, a lecture. Trust me, these events are a lot more fun and interesting than they sound.
- Watch a video on writing.
- Sharpen your pencils.
- Join a book club.
- Rearrange your office or writing space. Sometimes a change in your environment recharges your drive and creativity.
- Get some fresh air. Take that book or your iPod outside and soak up a little vitamin D.
- Learn a new skill. There are lots of skills you can master to give your writing career a boost: blog technology, social media strategies, query letter guidelines, copyright laws, marketing, and interview techniques.
- Read aloud. Let’s say you get published. You might have to do a book tour; you’ll probably do local signings. Even if you self-publish and do all your marketing online, you might have to do a phone or video interviews. So practice.
Pick and choose from any of these activities, and if you have any creative writing activities to add to this list, leave a comment. And keep writing.