9 Things You Can Do When You're NOT Writing

I have said before that taking a break from writing is a good thing. Getting away from the tough slog that is writing a novel can help you work through those annoying problems. But you can also do things related to writing - when you're NOT writing.

Writing related activities 


Whether it's reading Stephen King's On Writing, a blog post over on The Creative Penn, or simply flicking through the latest Writing Magazine, reading about writing helps. I've read On Writing more than once, and Writing Magazine is full of useful tips and tricks, competitions, and published fiction from other authors. It exposes you to different styles of writing and gives you insight into how the publishing industry works. All useful if you're hoping to become a published author.


Crime shows, true crime documentaries, and police documentaries all feature in my watch list. As a writer of crime fiction these shows help me in varying ways, from showing me how real life criminals commit their crimes to how to represent a story to my audience. While reading is the primary thing most people talk about when helping your writing, I like to watch a lot of shows too. So whether you write crime fiction, historical fiction, or even romance, turning to the TV can help you.



Your research may fall into the reading category, or the watching category, but either way you're learning and it will help your writing. I've been learning all about the anatomy of the body and how the body reacts to impacts from various weapons. It's been an eye-opener and I've learned so much about how the body works and how the brain works. It's helped me with my book but it's also helped me learn more about safety for myself and my family too. I bought books, watched YouTube videos, and read online articles. My brain feels full of information and I like it. It's a good feeling when you're learning something new, but especially if it can help you. So use your research to not only help your book, but you too.

NON-book/writing related

Take a break

Okay so most of the writing related things involve reading or watching, but you can always take a break. Stepping away from the keyboard or notebook and getting outdoors can make an enormous difference. Many times I've felt stuck on a topic, struggling to find a way through a problem I've created for one of my characters, but by getting outside and going for a walk I step away from the problem and think about other things. I don't know why but whenever I go for a walk my mind feels freer and I'm able to work out how to get around my problem. Even when I'm not really thinking about it, the solution will pop into my head, it's like magic. Which is why I'm such an advocate for getting out of your office or away from the computer and getting outside.

Cross stitch


Cross-stitch is one of those hobbies where you can sit and create something beautiful without having to tax your brain too much, which is a pleasant relief when you've spent the day researching brain function. It's nice to sit and pull thread through Aida while you watch a picture appear. Now I know cross-stitch may not be for everyone but if you're willing to give it a go,   it's a good way to step away from the writing for a while.

Play Games

I'm talking video games. I'm married to a programmer who has worked in the games industry for over 25 years so as you can imagine we're a household of gamers. But to be honest gaming is a great way to relax at the end of a long day of writing. You force your brain to think about something else and have fun too - what's not to like? Some games I would recommend if you're just getting started are Lego games on any of the consoles - they're great for kids but also have some funny references that only adults would get. Mario games are fun and simple. And if you have a Switch or Switch Lite, I'd highly recommend Zelda: Breath of the Wild - it's one of the best games I've ever played and you don't have to take on the difficult tasks, you can just wander around a world picking things up and fighting monsters. 


Read For Pleasure


I know I've mentioned reading before but there are two types of reading - reading to learn and reading for pleasure. This one is the latter. Lose yourself in a novel, any novel. It could be the latest horror from Stephen King, an easy read by John Locke, or a softer touch like something from Jojo Moyes. Either way, get sucked into a book and forget about being a writer. Allow yourself to be a reader for a while.

Meet Up With Friends

When we've all had to stay away from each other because of COVID-19 getting together with friends can help you with your mental health and your writing. Interacting with others, popping to the local coffee shop, or even going shopping together can help you with your writing. And everyone loves meeting up with friends for a chat.

Try A New Hobby


Want to try drawing? Or maybe photography? Now's the time. Grab your pencils, or your camera and get started on a new hobby. It'll get you away from the computer but still being creative and may even help you think up new ideas along the way.

So there you have it, many things you can do when you're NOT writing. I spend a lot of my time NOT writing, but I always feel like I'm learning. I like to get away from the writing part and give my brain a chance to think about something else, but inevitably it always ends up coming up with new ideas or solutions to problems I'm facing. The point here is there are plenty of things you can do when you're NOT writing. 

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