The other night I found myself with a couple hours on my hands. There was a long list of things I should be writing, but possessed, at the moment, the motivation to tackle exactly none of them. The words just weren’t coming.

Thankfully I had a backup plan. A project to update old blog posts has been sitting on the back burner for a while now as I made only slow, occasional progress. So, not wanting the evening to be lost completely, I dived into that and wound up finishing it.

Writers aren’t always writing, nor should they be. You hit walls, you lack motivation, you’re just tired. Something is blocking you.

But there’s usually something, often something writing-adjacent, you can be doing.

So when you can’t write, do that. Make headway in other areas. If you can finish a project that’s been looming in the background, you free up some mental space that can help you out when you get back to writing more effectively.

I’m not talking about procrastinating. Lord knows there’s no one better at cleaning a house or goofing around on YouTube than a writer on deadline. This isn’t about putting work off.

Instead it’s about getting something useful and productive done in those moments where writing just isn’t what your brain or body are willing to engage in. Make those most of that time to close an open loop so that the next time you’re sitting and staring at the screen, you can do what you need to and get your writing done, whether it’s a blog post, a freelance assignment or that book you’ve been chipping away at for the last four years.

Of course it’s acceptable – even encouraged – to just use those moments to take a break. Go for a walk, watch a movie or take a nap. That’s alright. If you feel the need though, and want to get that dangling sword out from over your head, look at your list of projects, not the things you need to write, and make the most of the time you have. It’s a great help on every front.