10 Ways to Write Without Actually Writing

Sometimes I have days where I am super motivated and ready to be productive, so I sit down and knock out two blog posts and a chapter and a half in only a few hours. Other times I have days where I have the same amount of motivation and I'm ready to be productive, and yet writing feels like the most impossible thing in the world to do.
But all of that motivation! All of that desire to be productive! It can't just be wasted, can it?
Absolutely not! If you're ready to get some work done, here are ten ways to be productive and write your book--without writing a single sentence.

1. Watch a movie/TV show
Yes, I said watch TV! How many times have you watched a movie in the theater and thought, "Wow, this is a cool storyline. I bet I could add a plot point like that in my book." Or maybe, "Hey, that character reminds me of my own character!" The key to using movies and TV to be productive is to make sure you watch something in the same genre as the story you are working on. For example, when I want inspiration for Unperfected, I watch sci-fi movies like The Hunger Games, The City of Ember (that was my favorite as a kid) and Valerian. Some other inspiring movies could be Les Miserables, The Princess Bride, Moana, and The Great Gatsby. I also like TV shows like Falling Skies, Reign, and Merlin. Once you choose what to watch, pay attention to the plot and its twists as well as characters and their dynamics. You could always take notes if you want, but that would take away from this whole "write without writing" idea, don't you think?

2. Listen to music
There are unlimited possibilities when it comes to being inspired by music. Have any playlists you created for your books? Put your headphones in and take some time to close your eyes and listen. Let your mind wander through your story world. Allow the lyrics to spark ideas and don't be afraid to explore every possibility. Or if you don't have playlists, create some! There are so many ways to compile, from Spotify to iTunes to YouTube. Spend some time listening to different genres and versions of songs. I love finding the karaoke or instrumental versions of songs (such as this version of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons or the gorgeous instrumental of How Far I'll Go from Moana) There are also a few different sites where other writers have put some awesome writing playlists together, so make sure to use Google to your advantage!

3. Read a book
This is a pretty straightforward idea and probably one you've done or hear before. But it's true--reading a book is one of the best ways for writers to grow without writing. Reading gives your mind a chance to see how other authors sound. Pay attention to the voices of the characters and the style the author writes in. It's fascinating to see how different authors compare, and it's even more fun to find an author with a style similar to yours. Reading is also a good way to check out the pacing of a story and make sure your own book is unfolding in the right way.

4. Scroll through Pinterest
Don't have a Pinterest account? Make one. Pinterest is an insanely useful tool for writers. You can create boards for writing prompts and inspiration, characters, story ideas--anything, really. With so many other writers and images at your fingertips, taking some time to scroll through Pinterest is a great way to plot out your book. Sometimes all it takes it one image to spark your brain and invent something brand new about a character. Heck, I saw a picture of Colin Ford on Pinterest and he immediately became a brand new character that I just had to stick in my book.

5. Do yoga/meditation
While this might not be for everyone, it can be really useful to just take some time to focus on your breathing and let your mind wander. I personally like to do a yoga exercise routine while running dialogue between characters in my head. It's a good way to put my productive energy to use in both a physical and mental way.

6. Take a walk or a drive
If yoga isn't for you, a walk or a drive might be! I love taking walks through the woods in the park by my house or around the bus stops when I'm at work. Or if I'm driving by myself, the places I pass by can be wonderful inspiration to get ideas flowing. If you need to figure out a chapter or work through a chunk of dialogue between your characters, a walk or a drive might be perfect for you. Just make sure to stay focused on the road while driving!

7. Paint or draw.
You may be artistic and you may not be. Honestly, it doesn't really matter. I cannot draw for the life of me, but when I'm motivated to work on something and I can't write, I like to sit down and just paint anything I want (though I must say my go-to is sunsets). Try to aim your art in the direction of your book. You could sketch out a map of your world, or maybe try to design the crest of your Kingdom or the necklace your character loves to wear. Or you could paint a canvas with your favorite quote from your book. Whatever you choose to do, don't worry whether or not it's perfect--art is art!

8. Read a reference book
Yes, this is different than reading a regular book. If you missed Tuesday's post, a reference book is an informational book you have to search through and read on occasion with specific purposes rather than reading through the whole thing cover to cover. I love looking through reference books. Sometimes I'll take some time to look through my book on rocks and crystals to find a gem that best matches the magics the characters in my Fantasy WIP have. Or I like to read through my Worst-Case Survival Handbook to see if there are any dangerous situations I can put my character through. If you don't have any reference books, take a look at Tuesday's post to see my absolute favorites and where to buy them.

9. Dress like your character/find them clothes
As strange as this sounds, it's actually really fun. Take a look through your closet and see what you have. Would your characters wear anything in there? What would they wear and why? I have a few outfits that make me feel very Avalon-like when I wear them, and it's really a fun feeling. This is also a good way to learn more about your characters, as what they wear often showcases some of their personality. If you don't have anything in your own closet you'd they'd wear, you could even go a step further and search online for some outfits (again, Pinterest is great for this). As lame as this may sound, when I searched for outfits for my characters I saw one that inspired me to change the way clothes are made available in my books, which in turn changed the overall system of the city/the world and ended up leading to some major (and awesome) plot changes. So don't knock this until you try it!

10. Plot in your head
If all else fails, lay back, close your eyes, and just spend some time plotting. Consider every possibility no matter how drastic of a change it may be. Look at your world, your government, your characters, their names, their origins, etc. What needs the most work and why? Usually once you get your brain going and idea start flowing, writing becomes a much easier task (especially because you'll have to write all of these ideas down before you forget them!)

It's so easy for us writers to feel like we're being lazy and not productive when we aren't writing, even though it's perfectly okay to take breaks and not write sometimes. Hopefully these ten ideas will help you to "write" in new and interesting ways and get your book one step closer to being finished!

Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. Colossians 3:23