Reasons a Writer Can’t Write

Writer's Stop

Writer's Stop

Or reasons a writer finds NOT to write.

A humorous dialogue between the writer and her wall on the reasons a (feel free to insert your name if this sounds familiar) writer finds not to write


Are you writing?
“My butt doesn’t fit in the chair. I need to go on a diet. I’m researching diets.”
You’re butt’s fine.  Focus.
“I found a recipe for Banana Cream Pie.”
I thought you were going on a diet. Why are you surfing
 “My butt doesn’t fit in the chair. I need to go on a diet.”
Is banana pie diet food?
“It’s got bananas and dairy products so it has to be good for you.”
You could stand to lose a couple of LBS.
“Bite me!”
 “Good. You’re pissed enough to write.
“After I find a suitable diet, I’ll write.”
Your butt is fine. Meld with the chair, be one with the chair. Now sit.
“You’re one dimensional, no curves or slopes, no BMI, what do you know about body fat.
I’m the wall, I know a lot. I’ve been hanging here since the forties.
I can’t write.”
You can write. Fingers on the keyboard, clickity clack, clack, clack. Come on.
“I need a donut.”


“It’s 9:00 AM. I have to write for two hours before I can get off this chair. OK?”
OK. You write, I’ll watch the clock.
“Good Wall, what would I do without you.”
Hey you, where are you going? It’s only 9:08. 
“Starbucks, I can’t think without coffee. I’ll be back in ten minutes.
Back so soon? 
“Shut up, it’s only 11. I got sidetracked.”
Guess so since it’s 11PM.

What are you doing? I thought you were going to write.
“My eyebrows, there should be two. I have a uni-brow.”
“What do you know, you’re a wall.”
I didn’t ask you to talk me.
“A writer needs a friend who understands.”
Have you tried conversing with the West wall?  She’s all love and kisses at sundown.


How many words? You’ve been typing for forty-seven minutes.
“It’s not the number that matters, it’s the quality of the writing. I’m a perfectionist.”
Read me what you wrote. You tell me I’m a good listener.
“It’s too soon. It’s a shitty first draft, barf on a page.”
Quoting Annie Lamont, again, that’s never a good sign.
“What does that mean?”
Nothing. If you don’t want to share, I can’t force you. 
“Mr. King says not to let anyone see the writing until the writing is ready for eyes to read.”
He said that?
“Not exactly, but it’s gist of what he meant.”
If you don’t want to read your words, you don’t have to. I get it. No problemo. I’m here when you need me. 
“Wall, don’t get all moody on me.”

“Wall, you’re such a girl.”
I thought you likeed this shade of pink. You did pick it out.
Are you going to read or not?
“I hate you.”
I thought I was your best friend?  A writer needs a friend, you said. A writer only has her wall, you said. A writer is an island, you said.
“Geez.  You’re so bloody demanding.”
I did take three coats to get this shade of pink.
“Here goes, ready?”
I got from here until the next big earthquake.
“Very funny, here I go…   Milk, yogurt, whole wheat bread, Skippy peanut butter, chicken, cheese wiz, blue…”
That sounds like a grocery list.
“A writer needs to eat balanced meals you know.”

“Hey Wall, I’m back.  Are you ready to rock ‘n roll. I’ve got the mojo tonight.”
Did you say PARTAY? Bring it on. I can almost see the word count mounting.
“I’m ready, so very ready. I’m so ready it hurts.  My head weighs 800 pounds. I gotta write it all out. READY?”
I’ve got nowhere else to be but here with you.
I thought you said you got mojo. Bring on the words.
“I do. It’s on fire.”
Then why are you leaving the room?
“The mojo needs mood. Wine sets the mood.”
Is the mood set?
“It and I are stewing in the grape. I’m an artist. I need to ferment. I need space. I need quiet.”
Writing is a verb, you said.
I’m writing in my head. That’s cerebral action.
And NETFLIX, is that like Sudoko? It helps with the cerebral action...?
“I’m not inspired. I need inspiration to write. I need magic. I …
You need to sit your butt in the chair and write. That’s all you ever needed.




Me and the Wall have an understanding. I bitch and complain and she, being all pink and sassy, promises to stare back at me with the evil eye until my fingers are flying across the keyboard. I tried telling her about the hangnail in my left thumb tonight but she glared at me until I finished the post.

“I love you, Wall.”
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.


What’s your biggest distraction (and cleaning out the lint between your toes doesn’t count)?

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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

48 thoughts on “Reasons a Writer Can’t Write

  1. Okay, I definitely have a problem. I’m the opposite extreme. I write all the time. I can’t pull myself away. I have to remind myself that there is more to life than writing–sometimes. :) When I’m not writing, I think about when I’ll be able to write. And when I am writing, I’m lost in a world of amazing characters and a world so much more exciting than my own.

    I do still live. Don’t get me wrong. I love playing with my daughter, running, reading, laughing with my husband, and watching the occasional movie. But I LOVE to write. Creating something from nothing is a miracle in my mind. And I get to perform miracles everyday. That’s what drives me.

    Am I crazy? Maybe a little. 😉
    Kelly Hashway recently posted….Fiction is More Believable Than RealityMy Profile

    • Not crazy, Kelly. I am not quite at your zeal, but I am always thinking about writing. I was trying with this post to take fun at the writer’s excuses for not writing, not my excuses, well maybe except for the eyebrows, but mostly this is is all written for a laugh. You are beautiful exactly the way you are, one of a kind.

    • Kelly, spoken like a true writer! I know exactly what you mean. It’s like we were born to write. I could do it 24/7 if I could. I work all day long, and even though I come home all tired out, I can’t wait to get to my computer and start writing. There are always so many ideas spinning in my head, and I love to pound away at the keyboard. By nature, a writer’s life is a solitary one, and I love getting lost in my writing world (and dread when I’m invited somewhere, though I do allow for going to one event/activity/party per weekend so I can spend the rest of the time writing). It’s an addiction, this business of writing!

      Fun post, Brenda, but kind of alien to me. 😉
      Monica recently posted….Ship of Fools: Our Excellent Adventure RevealedMy Profile

      • Thanks, Monica.. I am the same, well except for movies and reading books. I will put writing aside to read and watch a movie at night. The post is entirely from my imagination, and written for fun and for the writer who gets lost before sitting down and actually writing. Such is the burden of being an I writer. In any event, I hope you left with a smile.

          • Monica, it’s mutual. I was thinking about you yesterday working all day and coming home to write. That’s similar to my schedule, although since I treated myself to a MacBook Air, I am able to write during the day more (assuming my work schedule permits). About a month ago I got stuck in a moment – I’ve been writing but not working on the second WIP–and only figured out why I was stuck. Phew. I hate when that happens to me, but such is the mind. I have to write everyday. I may not be writing anything I’d post or submit, or I might be writing poetry (which takes a while), or there is the Dear Diary stuff, but not working on the next WIP was weighing heavy on my heart.

  2. Lynne Favreau

    I thought mojo said mojito which made we wonder if I had any mint. If I don’t have mint I could make sangria since I do have a bunch of oranges…if I defrost the puff pastry I could make cheese twists to go with it…I wonder if I have emmentaler? If I could interrupt the synaptic impulses for food references, that’d up my word count for sure. Probably lose a few pounds too. Dammit there’s fresh strawberries out there just begging to be dipped in chocolate.

    I could use one of those apps that blocks the internet while I’m writing too. I get so distracted by stupidity in the news. Like last night, in response to the MIGOP shutting up the female legislator who dared utter the word vagina on the floor of the house during a debate about—you know—stuff that happens in vaginas, I sent a flurry of tweets off to the MIGOP, including a detailed anatomy lesson. And I did my part getting #vaginamovielines trending. You’re welcome.
    Now, all I want to do is talk about vaginas.

    • Lynne – you crack me up. EXCELLENT! A few writer’s I used to hook up with have that app you are talking about. It blocks access to the internet for user defined time periods. I am not lured by the news or social media when I am writing. I am lured away when I am stuck or trying to work something out, which ends in either two ways, I write something different or stop and think (often ends in a walk). Of course, there is the white noise of life but since that is never ending I am pretty good at ignoring it, thankfully.

    • Julie – The window is dangerous, bug also good. It inspires, we see rolling clouds, ideas floating through the air, the wind whispers in our ears, calls us out for a reason. The Wall is a harsh mistress, nowhere near as fun as the window. Hey, I heard that….

  3. Funny post. A nap usually looms over my shoulder, encouraging me to just rest for a few minutes. Or I forgot to email someone back or the kids are fighting and I’ve been called in to referee.. Hmm, I’ve got too many really. :)
    Andrea Miles recently posted….ChalkboardsMy Profile

  4. Usually, I’m distracted by something stupid, when I should be writing something. Something like Facebook, one of those games that people play, but I avoid, because they’re stupid.

    Or I get sucked into an online forum, where the conversation is so shallow you hit bottom on your first scoop with a 1/4 teaspoon. A forum I usually navigate away from, because…it’s stupid!

    Conversely, I’ve been needing to do some database work for a month now, and I’d rather write and read other bloggers than finish the database! LOL

    Also, “True Blood” from HBO, that can always distract me from just about anything. I don’t think it’s stupid but it doesn’t help me accomplish anything :-(

    Great Post Brenda, thanks! 😉
    Mike Adams recently posted….Compassion & Controversy: A Message for Unconditional LoveMy Profile

    • Mike, you’re too funny. The database work is my favorite reason. I’ve never seen True Blood, although it sounds good. I try to limit myself to movies, and the occasion on demand show before I hit the pillow. I do confess I am having a hard time this summer. My daughter is home from college and has a tendency to hang out with me in my bedroom at night (she is an even bigger movie buff). Writing is now being squeezed into hours between meetings at work. Oh, and lets not forget querying agents for my first novel. As for forums, step away!!

  5. Teriff post as ever! For me….Social media is the great snag for me. It’s necessary for writers, but I get sooooo pulled in. Also I’ve been working more (writing coach/editor) and it’s harder to get back into the WIP when I’ve been away from it for a few days, teaching workshops, etc. I used to be like Kelly–hypergraphic–but the need to (think of it!) make money keeps me away from the Endless Novel. And getting back into it is harder. My plan of attack–I have rented a writing space! Can I afford it? That’s another story.

    (I wish I had time to watch TV! I never watch TV!)
    Helen W. Mallon recently posted….A Great Summer Read: The Crosscurrents of Family and FortuneMy Profile

    • Helen – Thanks much. Believe or not, I work in Social media space. I am immersed in it all day,which explains why I am not drawn in to social and network as much as I should. I write everyday, but nowhere near the degree of Kelly (the day job) but I do my best at night and on weekends. The writing space is a dream for me, until then, I hit the library on weekends. I do watch a good number of movies. Like reading, they are actually helpful to a writer. I’d watch movies even if I wasn’t a writer, because it’s one of my guilty pleasures. Reading a script and how they are written is an excellent tool for a novel writer.. it teaches space, frugalness, keen awareness to the story. I could go on. Oh and my wall says when you’re away from the WIP, to reread the last twenty pages aloud before you start writing again. She said it helps.

  6. My biggest distraction? Visiting other brilliant posts like this one! Wow, this was so clever – the wall, angels in pink, trying to lure you back to the task at hand. It is so easy to get sidetracked when the one thing we, as writers, need to do is build a platform from which to launch our novels, poetry, etc.
    We must stay focused and, yet, be flexible and communicative. Not an easy task most days. An all too easy path when we seek distraction . . . instead of focus.
    Thanks for this awesome post!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….Didn’t You Hear Me Calling You?My Profile

    • Thanks, Martha.. My blog is simply an outlet for my creative energy. Sometimes I am serious, or writing on writing, or playing (as with this post). Having a platform until finding an agent, is about submitting and being published. For me, this blog is a distraction because I am posting and working on the second WIP, but then I run out of time to work on short stories. I am guilty of no writing between 12AM and 6 AM. I need to change my priorities.

  7. k~

    This was a great dialogue Brenda. I love the personification of the wall, especially as a sassy, pink girl, who won’t listen to your line when you explain what you need in order to write.

    I write everyday, here in this chair, for as long as I am able… the distractions are characters who multiply inside my mind and fly off my keyboard in grand style, characters that have not yet found a home between pages of my next unfinished novel.
    k~ recently posted….Lillie – Trevor’s Ride (100 Word Song)My Profile

    • K- I don’t write from the same place everyday. Today I am sitting on a bed in a hotel in Monterey waiting for my kids to take showers so I can go find java. I write everyday, but never at the same time or place. I used to keep a schedule, now I write when and where I can. I love the wall. I actually wrote a list of reasons, but I was listening to Matchbox Twenty when their song, ‘Unwell’, circled round on the MP3 player. There is a line, ‘Making friends with shadows on the wall….” and before I knew it, the list became a conversation.

      • k~

        I love that it was your inspiration Brenda. I used to write everywhere I went, and perhaps I should start with that pen of mine again. When I started writing on the keyboard instead of paper, it became more comfortable to sit in this chair, and write from this space. Now I have to wonder if I perhaps I am missing a bit of the magick of the giant trees I used to sit under, or the cafe’ full of conversations, or next to the riverbed, where some of my favorite poems were birthed. Indeed, you have given me something to think about… and paper and pen go anywhere I am…

        Thanks Brenda 😉

    • Linda – I seriously believe there should be fairies to stop by in the middle of night and take charge of the laundry and all those other domestic chores that get in the way.

    • Irene, always a ton of distractions in life that easily tempt us away from the writing. I am easily lured away when I am stuck on a something, which often makes me write something else.

  8. Besides the usual–need to check email, need to eat something, need to make tea, need to pee–my biggest distraction is my 9 month old grandson. When he peeks around the corner at me and smiles, then what can I do? I have to stop and play.
    Galen Pearl recently posted….Quotes of JoyMy Profile

  9. –HaaHAaaaa. Every writer can identify, Brenda.
    You are a very funny girl.
    Uuum, my biggest excuse is, “Ooo, shut up, Muse, “”So You Think You Can Dance”” is on right now!”

    My Inner Chick recently posted….ANGELS COMETHMy Profile

    • I do try, Kim, really I do. I am found of laughing and making fun of myself… I’ve never watched the show you mentioned, but I am hooked on watching movies are strange things, like Big Bang Theory.

  10. Blogging, Facebook, checking my e-mail and g-mail are my biggest distractions, not to mention food of course. I’ve started a new regime where I’ve committed to writing so many words per day – we’ll see how it goes!

    • Yay for you, Elizabeth… Since I spend my working hours in the Social Media arena I am not as distracted by it when I am writing, although the Wall has been known to talk my head off.

  11. What a great post! I feel like I need to find a supportive wall like yours! Erma’s picture is up in my office now ans she talks to me sometimes which is good b/c her voice is louder than my inner critic! I do need to make time for my writing because of so many other conflicting reasons not to write [insert whatever reasons seem familiar!], but I am just loving my writing right now :) and vow to devote the summer to get this book done [barring aforementioned conflicting but familiar reasons not to write!]!
    Astra recently posted….“I wish I could go back to college…”My Profile

    • Astra, I like that you have Erma’s picture in your room for inspiration. I have a watercolor hanging over my desk, which I bought when I was living in the UK. It’s a blue door surrounded by flowers, pots of flowers, hanging flowers, shrubs, and all the little things you expect to see in front of door to the imagination. It’s as simple farmhouse door somewhere in France, but to me, it’s the door to my imagination. If you are in the groove and writing like death is on your heels then you have the fire, keep moving as long as the flame is burning. Erma wouldn’t judge you if you fed the kids frozen pizza once and a while.

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