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How to Keep Writing While Working

Updated on January 2, 2018
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Jennifer is a writer, editor, feminist, and Potterhead. She also loves her cat and studying cat behavior.

A man writing poems, "Taken at the Royal Shakespeare Company."
A man writing poems, "Taken at the Royal Shakespeare Company." | Source

When Writing Isn't Your Focus

As a writer, you’re either hopelessly broke and sending in everything you've got, or you have a part- or full-time job in order to pay the bills.


Whether practical or with your head in the literary cloud, if you’ve been forced to put writing on hold like I have, then you’re well aware your time isn’t spent the way you’d prefer.

Make It A Priority!

I have several writing activities that help me keep my writing juices flowing, my creative jello jiggling, and my articulacy relays switched to “ON”. If you would like to make more time for your writing, here’s how:

  • Write More!
  • Write Often!

I know this sounds overly simplified! I know it eggs a "duh" out of you! That's okay. What we need is the motivation. As writers, we tend to use excuses of perfection to not do The Thing. Here are 10 ways to get yourself motivated in fun and exciting little ways to keep writing. =)

You can read my articles for each writing activity by clicking on the links, or you can simply read the descriptions for each. Either way, good luck! Always keep writing. =)

A Brief Interruption and Reminder:

Put your work on that paper!
Put your work on that paper! | Source

Activity 1: Doodling

Doodling is the perfect way to start your creative juices flowing for exposition and character development.

The line that started out as squiggles but ended up as an Alternate Universe-looking Squidward with Snape dreadlocks? Use this doodle to inspire you to write out a simple character sheet on his background!

The square that was supposed to end up as a 3D box but now has the wings of a spaceship? Write an opening scene for the next Star Trek movie! <more> Click here to read more about exposition, character development, and to even download a character outline!

Activity 2: Poetry Writing

There are so many forms of poetry out there! Look them up (but don't spend too much time procrastinating with research!) and take a jab at them. Do silly ones. Do serious ones. Write a sonnet to a planet!

The only thing more important than writing to a writer? Editing!

Pick a super difficult poetry form to write with and spend your afternoon perfecting it with your editing. Take breaks to look up different rules for the same type of poem and even loopholes for it! You’ll become a master at it before bedtime. <more> Click here to read more about poetry editing and even see some examples of the more difficult poetry forms!

Activity 3: Photography Captioning

Think you know descriptive writing? Bet you don’t!

Choose an ambiguous photograph and come up with multiple descriptive paragraphs for different events. Now would be a good time to look up synonyms and choose whether they’re necessary or not.

(Stephanie Meyer thought they were. Keep that in mind.)

Remember: simplest terms are the best terms! Make up a couple single-sentence captions to tell what’s happening in the snapshot. Remember to use present tense only and verbs where necessary. <more> Click here to read more about descriptive writing and captions and to see examples!

Mallard duck photo, taken somewhere in Canterbury, New Zealand
Mallard duck photo, taken somewhere in Canterbury, New Zealand | Source

Activity 4: Onomatopoeia Matching

Still think cows moo and ducks quack? Take a walk (Yes! Outside!) and keep your ears as open as possible. What's that sstsstsstsst sound? It might be what a cricket’s cricket actually sounds like.

I dare you to try and match stereotypical sounds with what’s actually being said by the animal kingdom. <coming soon!> Click here to read more about sounds, how to write them down, and even to peek at a list of the most stereotypical ones to see if you can match them on your nature walk!

Activity 5: Under Pressure Writing

Need to be under pressure to keep writing? Have drama queen genes and need a huge situation to focus on?

Time yourself! Put word count goals with little time to do it in! Make your brain focus and stress because you're UNDER PRESSURE. <more> Click here to read more about other ways to make you write under pressure and to see examples of my own under-pressure writing!

Activity 6: Sneaky Writing

Is writing forbidden? Is everything Except Work a huge no at your job? One of the best ways to keep writing when you have a job wearing you down is to make sure you take time for yourself.

Take a pen and paper with you to your bathroom or lunch breaks. Write notes in your phone or a notepad as soon as they come to mind, even while you’re sitting at your computer desk or while sanding the grains on that dresser in the shop. Keep sticky notes left and right with ideas!

You’ll be surprised at how much faster your muse comes back when you’re organizing the notes later for actual writing. <coming soon!> Click here to read more about sneaky ways to write while at work or while taking a few minutes for yourself.

"The Optoacoustics OPTIMIC 1140 is a standard lightweight fiber optical microphone."
"The Optoacoustics OPTIMIC 1140 is a standard lightweight fiber optical microphone." | Source

Activity 7: Eavesdropping and Recording

What are the funniest conversations to overhear? The ones on the bus ride during a trip across country? The tail end of one from when you’re walking past your kid’s room? Or is it the conversation you heard from the elderly couple last week while out to lunch?

Let’s keep track of them, shall we? Experiment with dialogue formats and see how fast you can write down what they’re saying. Use short hand if you need it! This is a great screenwriting exercise, and it will help you keep up with your own mind when it’s going 160mph.

<coming soon!> Click here to read more about documentation and data exercises, about how best to eavesdrop and record inconspicuously, and to even see some examples!

Activity 8: Procrastinating

We all give each other hard times for procrastinating, whether in fun or out of frustration, but sometimes it’s necessary to give ourselves that break from…well, ourselves.

When was the last time you finished the paper’s crossword? Read a book? How long has it been since you’ve been to the movies? Taking your mind off a subject is a sure-fire way to make sure that those thoughts can rest before you tackle them again.

Today you're going to put everything off and take time to do something that you enjoy but haven't had time to do in a while. <coming soon!> Click here to read more about why and how procrastinating can help you be more productive down the road, and to even see a list of activities to do while procrastinating!

Hey YOU! =) Answer this for me.

Do you have any activities you do other than what I've put in here?

See results

Activity 9: Bathroom Breaking

Bathroom breaks are not only for doing your business. Sometimes when you work in a fast-paced or constantly busy atmosphere, taking 5 minutes to lower your heart rate and blood pressure is the only way to stay sane. I swear by this!

I know that if a day is particularly hectic, I need to take more potty breaks than usual (generally including steamy daydreams =D), but believe me when I say it helps. Some of us writers are quiet, comfort-loving people after all!

We need this alone time to reset. <more> Click here to read more about other types of breaks that help you catch your breath, and why taking a break at work helps you write, whether at work or later on.

Activity 10: Cloud Watching

Clouds, ceilings, wood grains, and even birthmarks are fun. Remember your reactions as a kid (and as an adult!) when you found a rather creepy looking baby in a cumulus clump or when you saw an extra cute whale right next to it? Did the whale look energetic? Was it flipping its tail in excitement to start its endeavor? Or was the creepy baby headed for it with a look of supreme evil on its face?

This is a good way to expand your emotional descriptions. Pick a spot with lots of patterns. Now connect the dots, the lines, and the squiggles. <coming soon!> Click here to read more on emotional description and even see some examples!

© 2012 Jennifer Kessner


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