What to Do When You Are Not in the Mood

Not in the Mood

Here’s the situation. You have a blog post, eBook, article, etc. that you want to write about. Maybe you just thought of it, maybe it was assigned to you, or maybe it’s been a topic sitting on your “to be written about” list for ages. So you’ve sat down, you’re looking at that blank text entry field. And nothing happens. Maybe you type in a few words, maybe you just stare at the emptiness.

You are just not in the mood to write this content.

So you have a few choices here. You can try to force it out – sit and try to write about this topic. You can say to yourself that you’ll get back to it later and hope for that “creative spark” to ignite. Or you can move onto something else.

I would suggest the latter.

One Unwritten Idea Can Cause Writer’s Blog

I have been there. The top example of this phenomenon was when I had agreed to work on an eBook – not mine about blog promotion, but another one. I had the greatest idea in mind for it, but because it was for someone else, I was told I could only focus on a certain aspect of the topic, which essentially killed all of the awesomeness I had planned for it.

This led to a writer’s block that lasted months.

Fortunately I had a lot of guest posts in my inbox, so I just exhausted most of those. And after several months I was finally able to force myself to write that eBook. Once it was finally done, it was like blockage moved out of my creative system, and I was able to start writing again.

Then I had another case of this. I was going to write a post that was going to be awesome. For some reason, when I got to the writing stage, I just couldn’t do it for whatever reason. Every time I’d start to research the content, I would just end up stuck. I was determined to write this post. And that determination led to me not being able to write anything else for any of my other projects. That lasted for about a week.

But in this case, I decided not to let it stalemate me like the other eBook did and move onto stuff I wanted to write about. I picked some new topics, said to let go of the other post, and voila, my writing began again.

Just Let It Go

So that is they key point. If you can’t get going on a topic, then move on. Write about something else. If it’s something you were assigned to write, see if you can write something else instead. I would say to let them know that it is going to be delayed, but sometimes just knowing in the back of your mind that you’ll have to come back to that topic can create the same kind of blockage.

Having Multiple Interests

This is when it’s good to have lots of different interests, which in my case means having lots of different websites to work on. If I’m not in the mood to write about blogging or social media for this site, I can flip over to affiliate marketing topics, collecting infographics, finding pictures of puppies, editing photos, and working on a myriad of other interesting things that will eventually relax me back into writing again.

What Do You Do When You’re Not in the Mood

Now it’s your turn. What do you do when you’re stuck writing one piece of content – move on or keep fighting it? Has it ever led you into writer’s block? Share your tips on what you do in the comments below.

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  1. says

    I have an “idea list”. When I’m not in the mood I check it and I run over it with my eyes.
    If I have 10 ideas on “social media” but I’m not in the mood to write about it, I change the topic to “web design”.

    P.S. Thanks for this great post.

  2. says

    When I don’t feel like writing, I usually don’t want to force anything. That probably isn’t the most productive idea, so I try to at least be more active in blog commenting and Twitter. Some socialization can be relaxing, and a lot of things discovered this way can also be inspirational.

    As you might have guessed, I really don’t feel like writing, and I haven’t for a few weeks now :)
    John just posted The wrong ways to use Twitter

    • says

      That’s exactly what I do John. I find the social interaction and comments lead to different ideas that I’m ready to write about at that moment. Definitely good idea not to force it in my opinion.

  3. Rosemary ONeill says

    I like to use the “draft” mode feature for my blog and just throw down the few words I can get out on the subject, without worrying about style or flow. Then when I’m ready to write, I’ve got something to start from other than a blank page. I’ve got a stack of about 5-10 half-baked ideas in the draft queue at any given time.

    • says

      That is a good way to do it. I have most of my ideas in my drafts in Gmail, but if I have a paragraph or two, then I move them into WordPress. I have a ton of half-baked ideas myself – nice to know I’m not alone! Those are great though – I sat on one for a year, then used it in a blogging contest and won with it. :)

  4. says

    Although I’m a newbie blogger, I’ve definitely experienced days when I have total writer’s block. One of the things I do when this happens is to review my past posts and find a topic that could use more exploration. A good starting point is often something you’ve already done. Plus, reading some of your past posts can give you a confidence boost when you need it.
    Marianne Worley just posted Branding Yourself With Color- 3 Everyday Sources of Inspiration

    • says

      That’s a good idea Marianne. It’s something you’ve already comfortably covered, so it will give you good flow. I like it!

  5. says

    Hahah I absolutely love this headline! Very creative 😉

    This post raises some great questions. On one side, you know you HAVE to finish writing the article because perhaps is for another site. On the other hand, you know that if you do write it (when you’re not in the mood) it might come out really bad.

    My trick is to put the article away and write something else…BUT, then pick up the article again and make yourself write it. This way, the creative juices that were working for the second article, will hopefully flow into the one I was struggling with.

    I hate the idea of quitting — so this kind of combines taking a break/sticking to the article.

    Great post!

    • says

      I’ve been trying that approach as well Sylvia. I end up writing 3 – 4 articles and still not able to do that one, even though it seems easy. Then a month later, viola – the article just kind of pops out. I usually don’t like quitting either, but I feel it’s better to quit one article than quit writing altogether. Thanks for your tip though – I’ll give it another go the next time I’m stuck on one!

  6. says

    personally I hit the forums. Usually I will find at least a dozen questions that I can answer and turn those into a new blog post. I did what you said about working on other sites for a while but I wound up with a lot of sites bouncing from one thing to another and not making the most out of any of them.
    James Pruitt just posted Google Analytics Stastics Are Wonky

  7. says

    Oh yeah, many times. I’ve finally figured out what to do though, and it works for me. I leave it in draft and walk away. I forget about it. I go have a smoke, get some dancing in, have some drinks. I go live my life offline.

    To me, if an article is to be, it will be. I don’t write for a living so I have that luxury. If it doesn’t come naturally and is instead forced, I’ve found those articles to not have the same “umph” as one that just flows out your fingers to the keyboard.

    Between people writing about being “epic” and Charlie Sheen’s Winning mantra, I feel like if it doesn’t have that natural flow, it’s a no go.

    My two cents. :)
    Wayne John just posted The missed opportunity many blog commenters forget about- 3 way links

    • says

      Thanks for your two cents Wayne! I think I have a subconscious mindset of no pain, no gain, so if the article is easy to write, it may not be that good. This article, for starters, was pretty simple for me to write. What’s funny is that the two articles I’m stuck on would actually be wildly successful, if I could get them out. :)

  8. says

    When I get really stuck, sometimes I’ll start on the easiest parts — and write a paragraph here and there without worrying about how to connect them together. Also, sometimes I’ll start at the end and work my way forward. When all else fails, I go to yoga which makes me stop thinking about it and concentrate on just trying to get through the class! This usually works and by the next day I can get back on track!

    • says

      I always do that Nancy – I write articles out of order all of the time. Usually my most difficult part is the introduction – sometimes that’s a lot simpler once you know what you’ve said throughout the post. And of course, if you get stuck on the intro while going in order, you’ll never make it through the rest.

  9. says

    Deadlines and Breaks have been my best friends when it comes to getting posts done.

    When I would never set a deadline for when a post had to be completed, I’d take forever to get it done. Maybe it’d end up never be finished. But as soon as I started making myself accountable to my business partner and giving him a time when I’d have it ready, sure enough my mind would come to my rescue and move into high gear to give me the answers I needed.

    This wasn’t easy at first. I’d had it my mind that if I rushed myself the post wouldn’t end up being any good. And yes, while some of my posts I put more time into may have been better, there’s plenty that never were completed or that took too much time away from other stuff that needed to happen in my business.

    The other part that helps me is setting a timer for 50 minutes and breaking away to go play when it goes off. This gives me a chance to play guilt free in the middle of my day instead of forcing myself to be productive for hours before I can have fun.

    These two together have been life savers and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

    • says

      I have a mixed feeling with deadlines. Sometimes they make me work faster, but sometimes they also make me work sloppier. I’d rather just let a post take it’s time to develop 100% than go “oh crap, this is due tomorrow – better churn out something.” I like the 50 minutes and a break idea though. I don’t know what time intervals I have mine at, but I give myself little mini-breaks throughout the day so I don’t feel like it’s just work, work, work and more work which can be frustrating. Thanks for sharing your advice Lewis!

  10. says

    This was me to a tee! I felt like that for the past few days and just said, “Screw it” and decided to go back to it when I was in the mood. I will not write anything if I don’t feel like doing it. Writing should never be a chore, it should always be something you love to do. I have learned how to just give myself a “break” when I need to and go back when I am ready.
    Sonia just posted How Dave Chappelle Taught Me How to “Keep It Real” On My Blog

    • says

      Exactly Sonia – the best writing comes from when you write about something you care about and the passion about your topic shows through the writing.

    • says

      That seems to be the patter, and I do that too, unless I’ve come back to it ten times and still have no better ideas than when I got stuck the first time.

  11. says

    If I want to write but am not in the mood there are a number of techniques that I have found to be effective for me.

    Firstly – time of day. I get most of my best writing done early in the day – as in really early. I get up and the first thing I do is turn on the computer and get writing. Somehow I’m full of energy and enthusiasm in those first few hours of the day.

    Next I find exercise a great help for clearing my head. So a brisk bit of HIIT along the beach is virtually guaranteed to get my blood flowing, my brain pumped with oxygen and – normally – plenty of writing ideas.

    Lastly I find that breaking down a huge project into smaller chunks can be very helpful. Often I’ll take an article or chapter of an ebook I want to write and brainstorm specific points and subheads I want to use. Then a run, where my subconscious will edit my work. Then I come back, make any additions/changes to the lineup necessary and get writing. Having the points laid out in advance makes the writing far easier and makes it appear far more manageable too.

    Warm regards,
    Richard just posted Why Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone Is Essential To Your Success

    • says

      Great tips Richard! Writing outlines does help make things better – I’ve noticed that when I get a topic idea, if I write down the outline right away, when I come back to it, it’s much easier to complete the article. Morning would probably be a good writing time for me, but that’s usually when I’m hitting blog comments hard for the day. It’s a form of writing too, I guess. Maybe a good writing exercise to start the day with.

  12. says

    I’ve never had writer’s block, but I’ve definitely had times when I’m just not in the mood to write, which is weird. Lucky for me, I often write a bunch of posts way in advance and set the dates to post later to take advantage of those times when I’m not in the mood.
    Mitch Mitchell just posted Make Your Blog Available Via Kindle

    • says

      That’s a good way to do it Mitch. When you are in the mood, mass produce that way you have plenty to tide you over while you’re in a stalemate.

  13. says

    This happens a lot to me, I even have tons of drafts and unfinished posts saved on my hard-drive. But what I mostly do to cope up with this kind of situation is – I rest and divert my attention, perhaps reading other blogs (not related to our niche), use stumbleupon, watch movies or to just listen to music to get more inspiration and to be able to gather concepts outside the box.
    Jason Acidre just posted How to Get Thousands of Visitors and User Sign-ups in a Day

  14. says

    I think this issue is faced by many bloggers but everyone has his own way to tackle it. When I am not in mood then I just logout from wp and spend most of my time on youtube videos for inspiration . I have just discovered very nice channel on youtube and they says that – “We believe that the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The fun theory.”

    You can check videos overhere – http://www.youtube.com/user/Rolighetsteorin . I am sute that you will like them …
    Atulperx just posted Twitter Management Tools – 10 Best Management Tools Tracking Accounts Stats and Followers

  15. says

    You can’t force good content to appear on your screen, if you do there’s every chance it’s not going to be your best work. Personally I will walk away and do something relaxing that will take my mind off it. This could be anything from watching a good movie to going outside and pulling weeds in the garden. It’s been my experience that getting away from the problem usually helps to resolve the situation.
    Sire just posted Easter- It’s More Than Just A Public Holiday

  16. says

    Hi Kristi,
    That’s what I do too. I hit resistance with certain topics that just don’t “speak to me” at that moment. When I try to force myself the same thing happens: writer’s block. I think the best thing we can do is allow the intuitive part of ourselves to be the writer. When we get all tangled up in the rational mind that says you HAVE to do this – we hit resistance. When I let my inner author guide me my writing flows much more easily. Thanks for sharing your process with us.
    Angela Artemis just posted The Power of Perseverance- A Message of Hope

  17. says

    Personally, when I’m not in the mood to write about a certain thing, it really just means I’m not in the mood to write at all. I’ll put that post to the side for the time being and maybe come back to it in a day or two when I’m more in the mood for it. It helps me clear my head a bit. If I try to switch topics, then I just feel like I’m writing all over the place and that doesn’t turn out well either.

    • says

      I think everyone handles it differently. I can be in no mood to write about one topic, but gung ho about writing about another. Usually when I have trouble with a topic, it’s just because I’m burnt out and need a change of scenery in terms of what I’m writing about.

  18. says

    There is some good tips in the comments. When I am not in the mood, I find it helps to look at my list of topics and choose another to write about, sometimes changing to a different subject helps. One helpful tip is that I have a specific time set aside to work on blog posts, by the time I get to that day of the week I find that I have it partially written in mind and it’s easier to start on it. Finally if I’m completely stuck, I just browse through my twitter timeline and read through the comments and posts and that often sparks an idea.
    Kathy Alice just posted Why Upgrade to Windows 7

    • says

      Comments and social media can definitely help boost ideas. I’ve seen people ask questions and it lead to a blog post for an answer.

  19. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Being a part time networker and blogger, getting blocked can be a major issue. After all, when I only have 2-3 hours each day to devote to my business, getting stuck is something that, if left to fester can drop my productivity down to near zero.

    Here’s what I’ve learned to do to combat this. I always have a list of topics that I want to write about. These are ideas I’ve gotten from research, reading other blogs or just ideas that have popped into my head. I keep this list handy on Google docs so that I can access it anywhere on my computer.

    When I want to write on a particular subject but it just “isn’t happening”, I go back to my list and find something that creates a spark. I’ll then work on that post and come back to the original idea at a later time.

    If nothing creates a spark that day, well then I simply pack up my computer, do something totally unrelated and come back to it later.

    Great ideas in this post. Thanks for writing it!
    Dr. Bob Clarke just posted Part Time Networkers- Can You Compete

    • says

      Exactly Dr. Clarke! I have just a few hours everyday to write too, so it’s pretty critical to use them productively. Thanks for sharing how you get past your writer’s block, especially in a time crunch!

  20. says

    When not in the mood for writing I’ve learned the hard way that switching off the computer is essential. If you live in a city then it’s great to go somewhere cultural and with vibrant energy and watch people. I used to live in Edinburgh and it was great because the old town is incredibly atmospheric with lots of street performers and general oddballs.

    Now I live in the Canary Islands in Spain so have the added option to go swimming in the ocean which is surprisingly thought provoking if you wear a snorkel. In general stop thinking about what to write and something will come to you. Much like when you’re single, stop looking for a partner and they will horde you. :)

  21. says

    The dreaded “”Writers Block” it happen to me at one point and that is how the Sunday Post Round Up came alive i just could not get my self to write but then i knew that i need to get my blog update so i get the the idea. It goes to show that sometimes good things comes when bad things happened. Nice tips
    lawmacs just posted Sunday Post Weekly Round Ups 17

    • says

      Funny, that’s how my Friday post came to be as well. I had nothing to write about, but had read a lot of great articles and though “hey, I’ll share these.” It turned out quite good in the end!

  22. says

    Hi, Kristi. You have touched the right topic for a post which bloggers or non-bloggers everybody face. When I am not in mood to write or have no idea for a topic, I shift to some other activity or have a break like watch TV. Usually while reading articles if I get any idea I pen down in drafts to expand later.

    All your articles are simply superb with tons of information, but I liked this article for it’s title and it would be my honor to include this post in my sunday shine series that will contain the posts I like. I will be posting the series in next 2 hours.
    Kavita just posted 7 Tips to Make Money from Sponsored Tweets

  23. says

    Good one – thanks! This nicely parallels brainstorming or ideation strategies. If you’re stuck, then take a mental (or emotional, or energetic) ‘excursion.’

    Taking an excursion is a proven technique that helps unlock us from a rut or standstill, sparking a stream (perhaps only a trickling at first) of new thoughts, possibilities and perspectives.

    Your excursion can be in your imagination (a mental journey or ‘vacation’ to a different place or time).

    Or you might want to up the ante and literally get up, move around, go outside, or do something else to positively ‘disrupt’ the temporary rut or stuck-ness you find yourself in.

    You may be surprised how taking a random thought or idea that came to you from (or during) your excursion can be ‘force-fit’ back to the objective or task at hand, with wonderful (abundant, in-the-flow) results. Have you ever tried this? Works like a charm :)

    Thanks again – look forward to more from you!
    Lil / Authentic Abundance just posted Four Strategies To Reduce Overwhelm

  24. says

    We all get writer’s blog (or is it block) sometimes. I have a few strategies to get over it.

    The first is to not let a week’s worth of barren ideas kill my output of content in the first place by building a “content bank.” Just as often as periods of writer’s block, I will have periods where stuff flies off my fingers and onto the keyboard. There are days when I am so juiced up to write that I can’t stop. When I have days like that, I will take a bunch of posts and put them “in the can” for publication at a later date. That way, when I go through a dry spell, I will have something to post.

    The second is to have some sort of regular feature to fall back on. I have a series of “hot dog news” stories on my Hot Dog Truck site where I’ll aggregate news stories related to my blog’s topics and publish/comment on them. This strategy has led to me following certain news events through to their closure-which results in even more posts.

    The third strategy is one I’ll probably use after I complete this comment. I read and comment on a few blogs fairly regularly and I like to find new blogs while doing that (I found you from John Chow). When I come across a post that particularly inspires me to write a detailed comment, I will often “spin” my comment into a post of my own (complete with a backlink to the original post). Reading is an essential part of writing and getting someone else’s perspective on a topic that hits your “hot button” will often enable you to fire off a good post of your own.

    These are just a few-I have some other ideas too- but I’ll be saving them for my now pending “How to Overcome ‘Blogger’s Block'” post!

  25. says

    Interesting post, Kristi. I’d never really thought about how not writing on a post idea could lead to writer’s block. As I read your post, I was reminded of many awesome ideas of my own remain unwritten. It seems the inspiration for these ideas always happens at the most inopportune times, and by the time I get to writing them I’m just not in the mood to match the awesomeness of the original idea. The problem is that these unwritten posts nag at me constantly. This spills over and zaps my motivation for writing any posts at all. Sounds like I either need to write through it or learn to let go as you suggested. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.
    Brad Harmon just posted Don’t Let Your Website Be Held Hostage