How I Work When I’m Not “Working”

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A few weeks ago, I talked about my decision to make plans instead of resolutions this year. I made some lofty goals New Year’s Day, including finishing a novel by December and submitting a short piece of writing to publishers every quarter, and since then I’ve been working out how to break those goals into manageable chunks week by week.

My plan for today is to make surface edits to a short story I wrote last year and to figure out what is going on in my novel. Already, it’s stressing me out, because I have to be at work by noon and I’ve just gotten out of bed. I know I could chalk it up to needing some rest and recovery after a crazy week last week or say I’m focussing on my mental health so I can be a better writer, but if I’m being honest with myself, I was just too busy reading through Star Wars theories to get moving.

Alas, the plan may be shot today, at least part of it. But that’s no reason to let a day go to waste. Writers know that even when we aren’t working on anything in particular, our creative brains are always in motion. An interesting person walking by could be our next main character. A line we read in a book could inspire a whole series of novels. Sometimes it’s annoying, at least to me, because I really do want to just read and go out in public for fun, but then I spot something and immediately have to jot it down in my word document (so much easier than carrying around a notebook). But if that’s what I label as work, even when I’m not working, I think I could be okay with it.

Even though I’m not sure if I’ll finish my planned work for the day, there are still some things I vow to do to fuel my writer’s life. Here are those ten vows:


  1. I vow to read a chapter of a book, paying attention to each word and how it works in the whole.
  2. I vow to enjoy my workday and the people around me, keeping an ear out for interesting articles to share and become inspired by.
  3. I vow to tweet at and retweet fellow authors, because I get a little giddy every time I receive a response and I want to share that feeling.
  4. I vow to read through a couple posts from the blogs I follow.
  5. I vow to write a quick passage off of a prompt from my writing prompts book.
  6. I vow to work on a response to From Whispers To Roars’ writing prompt of the week.
  7. I vow to notice five little things about a certain setting, things that add to its appearance but often go overlooked compared to the whole.
  8. I vow to read through my short story without picking up that dreaded red pen, reading like it’s someone else’s work that I can enjoy.
  9. I vow to spend the last ten minutes of today reflecting on the good things in life, and how far I’ve come as a writer.
  10. I vow to eat chocolate (because… chocolate).


We all need to remember that working as a writer doesn’t have to mean hunching over a laptop or journal and flying through a story. Sometimes, it’s necessary to look up and appreciate the little things we can do as creators to make our lives more… more.

What are some things you vow to do today?

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