I can come up with lots of reasons to not work on my fiction. There are deadlines for articles, baskets of laundry waiting, roasts that need defrosting. The hardest thing is to keep my butt in the chair, putting words on the page, delving into my characters and showing—not telling.

I realize this is part of being a writer. We’ve all stared at a blank computer screen, trying not to be distracted, or feeling depleted of ideas. “You can fix anything but a blank page,” popular writer Nora Roberts says.

She discards the idea that writers must wait for inspiration to come to them mystically, as if from a muse. “Inspiration is crap,” she said during an interview at a Romance Writers of America conference. She told writing hopefuls to not waste their time waiting for a muse to help them move their fingers across the keyboard. Frankly, she said the muse is “a fickle bitch. Don’t depend on her.”

Well, I’m not necessarily waiting for a muse to pour compelling prose through my fingertips, but I am looking for suggestions on how to keep writing, especially when it seems like the last thing I’m able to do.

How do you keep at it? What tricks can you share with your fellow writers to keep us writing when we feel like we’re “carving in granite with a toothpick,” as Roberts suggests.