Stuck On Your Story? Here Are Fifty Things to do That Have Nothing To Do With Writing

If you’ve spent any time in the blog-o-sphere, or even in any of the online writing communities of Twitter and Reddit, then you’ll know you’re not alone in being in a “writing rut.” The majority of us can’t travel for inspiration. Or do that once planned visit to research in the largest library in the country (my derailed plans from last year – thanks ‘rona).

Here’s the cold hard truth: you have ambitions, yes. But perhaps it’s time to step away from that computer/writing space/etc. and get out of your head. Do something mindless. Do something you used to love and try doing it again. Don’t know what to do? Here’s a list of Fifty Things To Do That Have absolutely Nothing To Do With Writing:

  1. Ride a bike
  2. Go ice skating
  3. Walk the dog (or cat?)
  4. Redo that troublesome closet
  5. Buy yourself flowers
  6. Plan this year’s garden
  7. Learn a new skill
  8. Cook a favorite meal
  9. Take a hot shower/bath (seriously)
  10. Declutter your workspace
  11. Visit a local home improvement store for project inspo
  12. Fix that thing that’s needed fixing for a long time
  13. Zoom with family or friends
  14. Start a blog
  15. Go through your old stories
  16. Watch soap-making videos on YouTube
  17. Get lost in social media (but not too lost. Save your sanity!)
  18. Reread a favorite novel series
  19. Try outlining your own work-in-progress for the first time
  20. Conduct interviews for your characters
  21. Offer to edit a paper or two for students you know
  22. Support small businesses in your area
  23. Find a local charity and see what they’re volunteer needs are
  24. Try your hand at freelance writing
  25. Learn how to use a graphics design program
  26. Build “mood boards” for your characters, or theme boards for inspo
  27. Have a “binge” day – eat the food you want, watch the shows you want
  28. Snuggle with your snuggle buddy
  29. Splurge on all those teas you’ve had your eyes on
  30. Find a new genre of music to listen to
  31. Learn calligraphy
  32. Consider caring for fish. Or plants?
  33. Make a #WIPAesthetic to visualize a character’s emotions
  34. Have a movie night where the film’s themes match your own WIP
  35. Pick a random topic and research research research
  36. Learn needlepoint or knitting
  37. Join a local writer’s group
  38. Plan your spring farmers’ market trips
  39. Clean out the basement or attic (or both)
  40. If you can, offer to shop for a neighbor
  41. Redesign a space in your home
  42. Power wash your drive/walk/siding
  43. Clean out the gutters (you know it’s probably time)
  44. Make a purchase from that shop you’ve been eyeing for a long time
  45. Donate to a food pantry
  46. Pick back up an old family tradition
  47. Create a playlist for your work-in-progress
  48. Go for a run/walk
  49. Find all those things you know relax you and just RELAX
  50. Write letters (yes, old school snail mail)

Looks like SOME of the suggestions have something to do with writing. Writing doesn’t always have to be a chore: constantly drafting, especially when stuck. I used to do needlepoint but often got frustrated and never completed them. Thus, wasting money. A few weeks ago, however, I decided to try again. This time, I bought a pattern where I don’t have to count my stitches. Why do I still enjoy it? It’s really freed up my mind, doing something mindless. You don’t always have to write at warp speed. Slow down. Give yourself a break. And perhaps, perhaps, you’ll find some story inspiration along the way!


Four More YouTube Channels I Watch When I Should Be Writing

Tastes. Sometimes something we love sticks with us for our entire life, and sometimes it was a fleeting favorite for a month or two. That’s how I feel about whose content I choose to watch on YouTube.

YouTube is a beast of a platform, in case you didn’t already know that. I don’t even want to think of how many content creators use it, and how many of them consistently, constantly vie for our attentions.

In the last YouTube related blog post I put up on this site, I mentioned how proud I was for no longer watching television. Well…I recently “inherited” my parent’s old television. It’s now wall mounted over my bookshelves. I am, however, proudly keeping to the “tv is only for the weekends” rule I imposed on myself. I have yet to impose a “YouTube only on *insert day here*” limit. Maybe I should do that…

Let’s circle back to that changing tastes topic of discussion. I looked back on my previous two YouTube posts: What I Watch When I’m Not Writing from August 2020, and January 2021’s addition, Six YouTube Channels I Watch When I Should Be Writing. I’d like to amend here who I no longer watch from those posts: Jessica Braun, Binging with Babish, Time Team, and nyangsoop. That doesn’t mean at all you can’t still give them a try. Those channels have been replaced with the following:

The History Channel

LIFE AFTER PEOPLE and HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE. Let’s just say that these videos have given me WAY TOO MANY ideAS for my new work-in-progress! Seriously. If you’re ever stumped for something in your own WIP, try watching something from The History Channel.

What’s actually amazing about it is they’ve got full episodes up. Some shows they’ve only got clips, or something informational about them. But, with LIFE AFTER PEOPLE and HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE, they’re completely full. And, if you’ve got an ad-blocker installed on your device, viewing them is such a joy!


Tara Michelle

I found Tara’s videos last year through her “living in LA” vlogs (though she doesn’t actually call them that. Sometimes it’s hard to relate (me, a 35 yr old living in Pittsburgh. her, a 26 yr old who recently moved from LA back to Toronto), so I don’t always watch each and every blog. Especially since she doesn’t always disclose when a video’s been sponsored by a company.

However, it’s been quite interesting watching how she’s adjusted to life back in Canada, and now she’s working on remodeling her own place (jealous). She’s definitely much more adjusted and down to earth than many younger YouTubers, which I think is what keeps me watching. I appreciate how she appreciates those who are interested in her journey.


Imamu room

Imamu and her family are from Japan who now reside in Canada. (Yes, another Canadian content creator! Score Two for the Canadians). I really like watching her cooking videos. Her recipes swing between traditional Japanese cuisine and East meets West.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always taken a long time when it comes to preparing ingredients for my own meals. I really appreciate Imamu’s gusto when cooking. She’s not afraid to get “down and dirty” when it comes to preparation and multitasking in the kitchen. I hope to, one day, be as confident as she is!


Rachel & Jun’s Adventures

Honestly? I go back and forth with this channel (group of channels). I found them several years ago while I still loved learning about Japanese culture, j-pop, and traditions. I think my interest in such things died down around the same time I stopped investing so much time into Korean pop music. I know, I know. Two different countries. Two different peoples. But there is a direct correlation to my college days with both of them. Sometimes I still watch them. Sometimes I don’t.

Jun’s Kitchen is still an immensely popular channel, though he doesn’t post as frequently as, say, Binging with Babish. However, several videos of his have gone viral. Currently, Jun and his wife, Texan-born Rachel, are in the midst of building their own house. So I am thoroughly enjoying that content. If you like cats, learning about the intricacies of navigating a multi-cultural relationship, and traveling around Japan (during non-COVID times), then I definitely suggest giving Rachel & Jun’s Adventures a try!


To borrow some advice from my last post as well: I suppose another reason I wanted to share these channels is to remind you that you don’t always need to be writing. It’s perfectly okay, normal, and natural to take a break. In fact, breaks are necessary for your mental health.

Don’t be afraid to indulge in a favorite YouTube channel from time to time. They’re a great stress relievers and help free up those neurons so they can help you plan out your next great scene.

Also, it’s okay if you no longer are interested in content from certain channels. Especially if said individuals do or say something you don’t agree with. Chances are, they don’t even know who you are. But, as they say, old habits die hard.

Like procrastination.

Leigh = procrastinator for life (?)

So go. Watch something you love, but don’t forget your passion!


Six YouTube Channels I Watch When I Should Be Writing

April: 2020. I unplugged my television. Hopefully for the last time. I was tired of commercials, tired of the news, and tired of politics. Not only that, but I never had a smart tv, or good internet. So buying one just to watch YouTube or stream seemed pointless.

I’m four months shy of one year without television. Not only did I banish my television to the basement, but I cancelled Netflix and removed the app from my phone, and cancelled both CBS All Access and Disney+. Don’t ask me what that green guy’s oh-so-mysterious name’s supposed to be from that one Star Wars show. Don’t know, don’t care.

As a result, what began as a one month experiment to see if I could do it has resulted in a much happier existence. I really do suggest you give it a try.

However, every once in a while I crave some mindless entertainment. While I’ve read down my TBR book pile and bought even more than I can handle in a year, I needed to add back in a healthy mix of other kinds of media.

As such, ere’s what I watch when I’m not writing.

Or trying to write.

Or practicing deep procrastination from writing!

This post is an update to last August’s blog post, What I Watch When I’m Not Writing.

Aaron and Claire

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Korean! Aaron and Claire have you covered! Aaron’s mission: to make Korean cuisine easily accessible at home, even if you aren’t in Korea. Claire’s mission: to taste test everything Aaron makes.

I’d gladly swap places with Claire!

So if you’re looking for something different, and some different recipes to try, might I suggest these two? They’re refreshingly active on both YouTube and Instagram, so hop on over and have a watch!

emkfit

I mostly included this one to remind myself to actually follow one of her routines. And someday soon. I first heard of emkfit from the lifestyle channel, Jessica Braun.

I’ve been meaning to find something to do at home, and something that’s low impact for my knees. What I appreciate about this channel is she offers options to save your knees, which I really like. Maybe I’ll start on Monday? 🤔

Time Team

Feeling the need to learn something new? I always do! Last summer, right before my birthday, I became addicted to watching reruns (are they even considered “reruns” if you can find their videos on YouTube?) of the long-running, but long-since-ended BBC television show, Time Team.

If you’re into quirk, geology, archaeology, ancient and more recent history, then I suggest you watch a few episodes of Time Team. They’ve recently begun uploading past episodes to the new channel, Time Team Classics. Their digs also cover a whole lot of ground, searching for anything ranging from Neolithic to Roman to World War II Great Britain.

planD플랜디

I absolutely love how calming her videos are. She hails from South Korea, cooks mostly Korean recipes, sews, and loves cafes.

Have I mentioned I love how soothing her filming style is? When lockdown started last year, that’s when I found her. It’s a refreshing change from the fast-paced American style vlogs.

냥숲nyangsoop

This channel is similar to the above but with more earthy tones and an adorable cat named Taco. She gardens, cooks and tries to live off the land as naturally as she can. She cooks a few more Western style dishes, but she’s just as calming and posts only once a week.

Peter Monn

Need a little, or a lot, of whimsy? Personality? Look no further than Peter Monn. He’s got six channels, including ones about books, but I prefer his drama channel. Where else am I supposed to “get the tea” if I don’t watch the Kardashians or Real Housewives?

Now Peter’s had a lot of channel, as well as personal, growth over the past few years. We’re all learning, right? But I live his honesty and willingness to speak his mind. And the fact that he watches the language he uses as well. If you like knowing about drama that’s all about the YouTube community, then give Peter a watch.


I suppose another reason I wanted to share these channels is to remind you that you don’t always need to be writing. It’s perfectly okay, normal, and natural to take a break. In fact, breaks are necessary for your mental health.

Don’t be afraid to indulge in a favorite YouTube channel from time to time. They’re a great stress relievers and help free up those neurons so they can help you plan out your next great scene.


I Unplugged the Television For A Month. Here’s What Happened.

We humans make choices every day. Sometimes collectively, but mostly individually. We are creatures of habit and prefer sticking to our routines like flies on poo. Unless something dramatic happens and our simple pleasures suddenly disappear, we’ll follow that path indefinitely. I’m one of those creatures with a terrible case of procrastination.

Procrastination has truly had a profound impact on my writing (or lack thereof). Since this self-revelation, the one that showed me I proudly I wore that procrastination on my sleeve over the past few months, I’ve also come to realize how disappointed I am in myself. I’m writing, but blogging and working on other things. None of that work’s been directly connected to my manuscript.

Change. It’s such a short yet daunting word. One that us creatures of habit try to avoid as much as possible. I’ve worked retail and food service for fifteen years, so you’d think I’d have an easier time with it as change is so constant.

Then March 2020 came in the United States. A time when life changed life for us all. With everyone else indulging in Netflix, Disney+, and more social media than ever before, I wondered if it was time to finally conduct a no-television experiment. Let’s see what happened:

WEEK 1. April 1-11

You may wonder why this week is extra long. Honestly? Because I completely forgot about this experiment. But an organic change already happened during Week One, plus a few weeks before that, and I wouldn’t have noticed unless I hadn’t opened my Kindle. Apparently, less TV time equates to more book time. Imagine that!

It took a damp, drizzly March evening to get me to crack open a book for the first time in a while (one that wasn’t non-fiction), and my mouth dropped when I read its insights page. Of course it’s clear to you that I’ve never explored this function, and set a low reading goal for myself – to read twenty books in a year. 500 books in a year sounded like an absurd goal to start with. Better to set expectations low and work up!


WEEK 2. April 12-18

I used to have a huge “to be watched” list on my Netflix account. Now it’s down to two items – Merlin and a Korean drama called Mr. Sunshine. The only shows I have on repeat are old Star Trek series I can’t help but watch over and over again. It’s a simple thing, but they bring me joy.

I also used to religiously watch The Price is Right in the mornings, but even that annoys me now. Too many Type A personalities. So my TV remains turned off, and I’m slowly whittling down my “to be watched” on Netflix. But honestly? I’ve no desire to. Why? My focus has shifted completely back to books, writing, and learning more than ever before.


I’m also incredibly happy to report that I’ve updated the “On My Bookshelf” page here on my website, something I actually have to do yet again. Yay!

WEEK 3. April 19-25

Week three. Not only am I watching less television, even with the family, I’m watching less YouTube as well. Beauty community drama videos, kpop music videos, and old episodes of Judge Judy were constantly in my “Watch Later” list. Now it’s filled with more practical videos like organizing and new recipes to try.

Update 1: I’ve removed my subscription from several more channels. I’ve even removed many more shows from my Watch List on Netflix; I no longer have the desire to even start new ones.

Update 2: I’m also incredibly happy to report that I’ve updated the “On My Bookshelf” page here on my website, something I actually have to do yet again. Yay!


WEEK 4. April 26-30

By this week, I didn’t want to even turn on Netflix except for a few episodes of Star Trek here and there. You’d think, because I began my two weeks off work due to statewide pandemic mandates, that my viewership would increase. I’m pleased to report that it, in fact, went down. The majority of my entertainment now comes from, surprise surprise, actual books again. And I think that was the desired outcome of this experiment to begin with.

Whenever I find myself craving entertainment, my TBR (to be read) pile called my name. The only time I even look at a television now is after family dinner nights and The Masked Singer is on.

This last week is also the week I’ve worked more on my own novel series than I have in the past two months. “I don’t have time,” I’d say. When, in reality, I let my “procrastination” get in the way of real productivity.


There’s more to life than always airing your grievances on social media. There’s more to life than always being connected, on top of pop culture, or indulging in drama videos about people on YouTube you truly know nothing about.

Truth be told, this “experiment” began in late March. They say time changes habits, be they good or bad, and this past month certainly proved that to be true. Conclusion: television and media and other media outlets do not, should not, control your life. For the longest time I let it control mine, and I’m done complaining about political ads.

We all have it within us to write our own narratives. We don’t always have to keep to the status quo, especially if our life’s status quo doesn’t make us happy anymore. And I wasn’t happy. I thank God every day for my desire to write stories.

It’s time to use, and I mean truly use, this gift He’s given me.

The Proof is in the Reading Timeline!


We all have it within us to write our own narratives.