Creativity / writing

Writing Wednesday: Conflicting Advice on Writing When You “Can’t”

Last week’s goals:

Posts made as usual, and my comments on others’ blogs were also adequately accomplished.

I completed the release weekend of “A Tail of Two Species.” Due to the delay, I have moved the next release date to September 4th – it will most likely be “Cat’s Paw” (Herc Tom #10.)

Speaking of “Cat’s Paw”, it’s done (unless I decide to revise again) at just over 11,000 words (a novelette.) That makes four of this year’s eight stories completed.  I also finished the rough draft of “Crypto”, which is just under 5,900 words. Maybe I’ll have figured out what the real title will be by the time I finish revising.

All available stories are out to markets (I don’t consider series continuations for Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire or Detective Jimmy Delaney to be “available” to markets. I’ve tried submitting some of my subsequent series stories before, but no publisher wants to buy the non-inaugural stories in a series, so there’s no point expending effort on submitting them. Best to just ePublish.)

I produced another 5,725 words of fiction last week between “Cat’s Paw” and “Crypto.”  (Yes, it is easier to beat my 3,000 word quota when I don’t have a day job. That and Covid keeps me MOSTLY stuck in front of my computer…) I only wrote on five days – there was one day when I did no writing at all, and another where all I did was review my notes from last year for Swordsmaster’s Sequel (working title), and start reading Swordsmaster to refamiliarize myself with my novel (If you think forty years of thinking and writing a story is enough to keep it in my mind, you would be WRONG.)


I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but generic wisdom seems to come in contradictory pairs. For example, “Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t quite agree with “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, does it? And yet, aren’t both true?

Context matters.

In one section of the Writer’s of the Future online class, there’s an essay by L. Ron Hubbard in which he discourages any attempt to push out tons of production (wordcount.) When you “can’t” write, or don’t “feel it”, you should step away and not write at all.

This seems to fly in the face of all the writing advice I’ve read and been given about how you MUST WRITE EVERYDAY, and push through to put words on the page. And yet both pieces of advice are valid, depending on the context you place around them.

Those who say to push through are concerned with the need of a writer to develop the habit of actually WRITING (this is the main failing of would-be writers – they WANT to write, but never JUST DO IT.) Writing anything, even if it’s not your best work, helps to strengthen the writing habit. It gets the words flowing and exercises your writing muscles. The more you exercise, the easier it is (and from my own experience, the more days you take off, the harder it is to get those muscles back to work.)

But Hubbard doesn’t say NOT to write and leave it at that. He was an advocate of writing as a BUSINESS, and sometimes the writer has to do other things. He was particularly keen on the need of the writer to leave his office and experience the WORLD OUTSIDE – to do research and expose himself to new ideas and possibilities to help inform and inspire his writing.

In the time that Hubbard was writing this, he didn’t have the internet to help him find ideas and information – he did a lot of his research by walking into places and talking to people on the job. Not to say that you can’t do that now (it would be easier if it wasn’t for Covid restrictions), but Tim Powers (one of the three course instructors) extols the value of a writer using internet searches – especially of photos – to help inform and flesh out his writing.

When you “can’t” write, it isn’t always for the same reason. Advice should always be taken in context. Just saying…

What are the reasons that YOU “can’t” write, and what do you do on those days when you “can’t”? Feel free to tell me in the comments.


I’m participating in the Smashwords July Summer/Winter Sale. The sale lasts for the Collection10 Coverentire month of July (which is summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere, in case you were wondering WHY it’s called the Summer/Winter sale.)

All of my story collections AND Swordsmaster will be 50% off on Smashwords. You can find my books on Smashwords here:



ATailOfTwoSpecies“A Tail of Two Species”, my ninth Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire tale, has been released

The Lynx hasn’t returned from his mission, so it’s up to disfavored Champion of the Empire Herc Tom to discover what’s happened to him, and what the deceitful feline Isabella and the diabolical canine Lord Phylo are up to in this tale of two species.

“A Tail of Two Species” is a fantasy novelette, and is available now at several retailers, including, but not limited to:




Swordsmaster is ready for your enjoyment, so give it a read, won’t you?

Fate is neither something to run away from, nor something to run towards.Swordsmaster4

The first bright-eye to be seen on the mountain in living memory, Sandrik didn’t want anyone to think of him as they did the ominous Aurae of legend, so he had worked hard to keep his special abilities hidden. But there was more to Sandrik than even he knew. Now that it was time for him to enter the ancient ruins of Taernfeld and be declared a man, what other changes might he be forced into?

Swordsmaster is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords (at 50%-off for the Summr/Winter sale):



PurrMissionCoverSeriesWilliam Mangieri’s writing, including “Purr Mission” (one of his Writers of the Future honorable mentions, which is also FREE on Smashwords as the first of the Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series), as well as another 80-some-odd (well, mostly odd) short stories (plus his collections) can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
• Smashwords:
• His Amazon Author page:
• Barnes & Noble:


He also has a story (“A Background Poorly Written”) on Daily Science Fiction, here:

• His site on WordPress:
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:
• His Goodreads author page:
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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