Ways to Improve Your Writing Without Actually…Writing

So, obviously the only way to become a better writer is to write. Regularly. But some days writing just doesn’t happen, for one reason or another. Maybe you are on vacation, or feeling really sick, or just feeling burnt out.

Stop feeling guilty or like you will lose ground. While this shouldn’t be a regular occurrence, it happens. Give yourself some grace. And then remember that there are other things you can do that aren’t actually putting a pen to paper that will still have a positive affect on your writing. So, in no particular order. Here we go.

Do some beta reading or critiquing. Sometimes, I think this works even better than writing to make you a better writer.

Read a book and pay attention to what makes it good or bad. Analyze the plot structure, the voice, the characters.

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Make a pinterest board with images to use for your book. Photos of your setting and people who look similar to your characters will help you make the details more vivid.

Read a book on craft.

Do some research for your book. Every book needs at least a little research.giphy (3)

People watch and write down little details about a person that bring them to life.giphy

Sit and listen to conversations in a crowded area to get a feel for how people talk and interact with each other.

Do something creative other than writing. Knit, garden, paint, dance. Whatever it is. It will fill that creative well that you need to draw from when you write.

Do some positive reinforcement for yourself. I know people who have taken headshots for their future announcement, written “I am pleased to announce blah blah blah” on a sticky note and put it on their computer, even bought the dress they will wear to their future book signing. When I was querying, I drafted my nudge email before I had an offer to nudge with. Do something to really visualize your future success and bring on the positive vibes.

Talk with someone about a book!

Go analyze some other kind of art and figure out why it speaks to you. Brainstorm how you can bring that into your writing.

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Go spend some time asking and answering questions on the SCBWI blueboards.

Go through PM and MSWL and make a list of agents to query.


I’m sure there are more. What about you? When you can’t write, what kinds of things do you do to make up for it?

2 thoughts on “Ways to Improve Your Writing Without Actually…Writing”

  1. These are great suggestions, Amanda! Sometimes I like creating an old-school Pinterest board–a paper and paste collage 🙂 Also, walking with a writer friend and talking through characters and plots.


  2. When I first set out to write with publication in mind, I assigned myself a *minimum* of two hours every week day. That did not mean two hours of writing a new an original draft, but two hours related to everything a writer should do towards that goal. It included many of the things you mentioned in this good post.
    I think writers write all the time, even when our fingers are not grasping a fountain pen or clicking keyboard keys.


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