Have you noticed how much your mood affects your writing – or even your ability to write?

We had some bad news in our family yesterday, not devastating end-of-the-world type news, but it was bad enough to cause stress. When I sat down in the evening to write I just couldn’t. My mind froze up, my chest hurt and my fingers wouldn’t work. I’m a curious mix of pent up aggression and utter lethargy with nothing in-between. It will get better, things always do. It’s the natural ebb and flow of life. You get the highs and the lows with a whole bunch of grey areas in the middle. The writing works best during the grey areas I find.

There is the school of thought that one can use the harsh realities of life and take that into their manuscript. If you can manage to channel your anger and upset into the plot and characters, then it’s almost guaranteed to come out as a much grittier and realistic version of what would be written during a chilled moment. Similarly, when going through a period of good news and happy feelings, you can pump that word count up and pen some uplifting moments in the book.

I find there is a fine line between using real-life mood to enhance a story, and the real-life mood getting in the way of actually writing the story. Right now I’m unable to write. The emotion is too raw and the stress of the moment is too recent. The sensible part of my brain knows this will pass, all I need is a bit of patience and to stay mindful of anxiety levels, and hopefully in a few days I can get back to it.

To all my fellow writers who may go through something like this in the future, all I can advise is this-

Give yourself a break. You’re only human. If you can channel the stress into your work then do so, otherwise close the document down for a while and focus on yourself and your loved ones.

Even the foulest mood is temporary, and the biggest setback can be overcome.

All you need is time.

Write on!


A lot of writers are introverts. I speak as one of them – in the extreme (no offense but I much prefer my own company to that of almost everyone else on the planet save for two special people and my cat).

It’s an interesting trait of introverts to be very self-aware. It’s almost a disability in some respects, you become conscious of yourself at all times, you give pause to the myriad of possible outcomes for each choice you make, especially in conversation, to the point where you end up saying nothing because you can’t decide on the most suitable comment. Underpinning this is a fear. A fear of failure and of judgement in the negative. Add an unhealthy dose of anxiety and occasional severe depression and you end up with an interesting cocktail of a psyche. It’s a wonder I manage to achieve anything sometimes.

Picture this

Someone asks you how your day was-

My extroverted friends will say something like this: “great thanks! I achieved loads and had a good chat with a friend for hours, she told me she’s pregnant isn’t that wonderful…”

The introvert will run through an internal analysis: (internal musings) “my day was mediocre, nothing much happened. I can’t say that because it will sound dull, but I don’t want to make something up because I won’t come up with something believable and then I’ll have to remember the lie. I could mention the fact that the coffee machine is broken but they may assume that by me mentioning it, that I was in some way responsible for it, so I’ll just forget about that.” - an uncomfortable silence fills the space between the questioner and the introvert until finally they manage to say “fine thanks.”

Why am I mentioning this? Because that state of hyperawareness and over-analysis is pervasive. Especially when it comes to writing. We read and re-read and doubt, and judge and condemn our own work with reckless abandon. It’s never good enough. After all, how can someone who can’t even engage in a casual conversation without bringing themselves to the brink of a meltdown, possibly write anything of worth?

I’m a published writer. I’ve had inexplicable success with my writing, and yet I still doubt my ability. I still read what I wrote yesterday and think it’s awful and wonder why I bothered. That self-doubt is debilitating and depressing and the spiral continues until we either give up or learn to ignore it to some extent.

Of course, I’m sure the rare breed of extroverted writer does this too, so if that’s you, please don’t think I’m excluding you. Oh dear, now I think this whole blog post is not good enough, people won’t like it and they’ll think I’m talking shit. And they’ll be right because I do talk shit. I should just give up this whole thing…

Write on, it’s the only way to escape your own craziness for a time.




I’ve been struggling with a chapter in book three for weeks. It’s not like me to get so stuck. I know the action that I want to happen, but for some reason my brain has stopped effective communication with my fingers. I think there’s some kind of war going on between them that they haven’t told me about. It’s like having two naughty children who have declared each other mortal enemies over some small spat and there is just no talking to them.

I’ve tried it all

– I’ve ignored the book for a few days hoping I can come back to it refreshed

– I’ve physically forced myself to write even though I know the words are awful and will need a heavy edit

– I’ve tried reading a new book to see if that will spark the imagination.

None of it has helped.

I don’t want to call this writers block, because as I said before, I know what to write, I know what happens in the scene/chapter, I’m just struggling with the ability to write.

Then I had a mini breakthrough. A small nugget of character dialogue popped into my brain and I know precisely where it belongs, right at the end of the chapter. So I wrote it, leaving a big gap between the linear parts that are done and the bit I’m working towards. All I have to do is fill in the stuff in-between. Now I have that goal to work towards it feels as though a fog has lifted and as soon as I have the time to focus on it properly (preferably without being bleary-eyed from a lack of sleep), I know I’ll be able to move on.

So next time you’re stuck, try the back-to-front approach. Write the end point of a scene/chapter/entire book and with any luck it may clear the miasma of ineffectiveness.

Good luck

Write on!