35 Things to Do Besides Write (Which Will Improve Your Writing)

Writers write, sure, but you can’t be writing all the time.  Take a break once in a while!

Here are a bunch of things you can do instead that will have you coming back to your desk reinvigorated and full of ideas.

  1. Read a book you love.  Pay attention to what makes you love it. Is it the author’s word choice? The suspense?  The rhythm?
  2. Read something you’ve never read before: new author, new genre, whatever.
  3. Play with a child (or a bunch of children)yerin park sled
  4. Go for a walk
  5. Take a shower
  6. Learn a new skill or hobby (who knows, maybe one of your future characters will be obsessed with bird-watching?)
  7. Try another form of art (drawing, making music, dancing, vlogging, photography, etc.)
  8. Help a friend edit his or her written work
  9. Watch a movie or tv show that everyone is raving about.  How does it work?  Why is it so popular?
  10. Play with an animal (ex. a litter of puppies)pug puppy
  11. Go see a play or other cultural event.
  12. Take a walk at night (you know, if it’s safe to do that where you live)–everything feels and looks different in the dark.
  13. Go to a museum
  14. Go to the art and photography section of the library.  Check out a stack of books with images that intrigue you or make you feel something.
  15. Exercise: run, swim, hula hoop, hit a tennis ball, play croquet, play laser tag, etc.
  16. Catch up with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
  17. Travel somewhere new
  18. Do something that terrifies you: go skydiving, or just go to the top floor of a tall building and look out the window.
  19. People-watchbluth judgement
  20. Read a newspaper.  Or a magazine (Lots of story fodder in there).
  21. Learn a new language
  22. Watch TED talks or listen to online lectures and podcasts
  23. Introduce yourself to someone new
  24. Do the laundry
  25. Volunteer, preferably in a capacity in which you get to interact face-to-face with the people you’re helping
  26. Read or watch something that you don’t agree with.  Something that makes you angry.
  27. Learn about the publishing industry
  28. Sit outside in naturescottish sheep
  29. Go grocery shopping, or run some other mindless errand
  30. Do something you’ve never done before
  31. Re-outline your work in progress (Okay, this is kind of still writing, but it’s also kind of not.  And it can be super helpful!)
  32. Really listen to what people are saying to you, and how they’re saying it, without planning what you’re going to say next
  33. Make a collage of visual inspiration, either about your work-in-progress or about writing in general
  34. Learn to tell a new joke
  35. Read another book.  Seriously, this will help like nothing else.


The moral of the story: almost everything will help you become a better writer, so long as you do it mindfully.  Part of being a writer is practicing writing, but it’s also important to go out and experience the world!  Observe and catalog everything.

Note: These things make great, enjoyable breaks, but they also double as procrastination tools.  Use them wisely.


8 thoughts on “35 Things to Do Besides Write (Which Will Improve Your Writing)

  1. This might sound silly but I feel really inspired by this post. When I do many of the things on this list, I feel guilty for taking time away from writing. But you are right that they make me a better writer. So I’m going take your advice and step away from the computer and go for a hike now. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Links for a Lazy Sunday | Hardcovers and Heroines

  3. Reblogged this on Sleepy Book Dragon and commented:
    Excellent list that reminds me at least that sometimes, focusing on writing too much can be a bad thing and that you need to get out into the world and explore it.

  4. Pingback: How I Spent My Summer Vacation (AKA My Break from Writing) | Don't be "a writer."

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