When you embark as a writer, one of your first and earliest challenges is: how do I make myself actually sit down and write? We have no boss, no time-clock, no paycheck to motivate us, and we have to fit it into our already busy lives earning a living, caring for family, etc. How do you motivate yourself to write?
Do you remember when you first got that great idea? You were so excited and writing from an inspired idea charges your batteries like nothing else – it’s fun!
Working from the energy of inspiration will help you a lot. Do whatever you need to get back into that inspired place again, whether it’s reading what you’ve written so far, brainstorming over your idea, meditating on it, talking to someone who is equally excited about it. I don’t suggest talking about it too much, however, as you don’t want all that inspired energy to dissipate in just talking about your idea. But if you have a close friend or two who loves your idea as much as you do, discuss it with them and let their enthusiasm keep you going.
Looking for inspiration? When I decided I wanted to write a novel, I asked and prayed for an inspired idea. Next morning I awoke with the first few sentences in my head – my life has never been the same.
Sometimes a little structure goes a long way. To motivate yourself to write is often as simple as building a daily or weekly habit – modifying your schedule and putting it in as an appointment. Keep this appointment. Some people like to make themselves write every day – they’ll make a goal of one sentence a day (which usually leads to many more sentences), or one hour a day, or 1,000 words a day or week. You can start small like 15 minutes a day – again, it usually leads to much more. Or maybe you’ll set aside one or two days or evenings a week to work at your writing desk.
Getting started is the biggest hurdle. Setting even a tiny goal like those above gets you past this hurdle and into your writing groove.
Other habits you may want to build and incorporate:
- Spend time writing in your personal journal each day. Once you start doing this you’ll see just how cathartic and fulfilling daily writing is.
- One writer I know finishes the previous day’s writing mid-sentence, so that he can pick up on that same thought immediately next day to transition back into writing mode.
- Build “getting ready to write” rituals to help you get into writing mode. This may be just making yourself a coffee, or meditating or brainstorming briefly before writing.
- Go somewhere to write, like a coffee shop. This will minimize distractions at home and help you to focus.
- Participate in local or virtual writing groups and aids, like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). These provide awesome structure that is not solely reliant on you.
Writing with a group is a surefire way to keep you motivated. Try out several local writing groups to see which one is the best fit for you. I tried one at first, which I liked, but their focus was not on getting our novels done – what I needed. I found another group on Meetup, they meet every other Monday night and the focus is getting our novels finished – we write and submit around 2,000 words a week in that group. The feedback is amazing and I was able to grow as a writer and finish my first novel (after around ten years of on and off writing).
Take advantage of online virtual groups like NaNoWriMo as well. Besides the big writing month every November, Camp NaNoWriMo hosts several virtual writing camps throughout the year to help you reach whatever writing goal you set. I used these camps to set hourly monthly goals for revising and editing my novel.
Everyone is unique, and what works for one will not work for another. Are you an early morning person? Set your daily writing appointment for early morning. Night person? Set it for night-time. Are you more motivated to write after a brisk walk outside? Does it help you to study a book about the craft of writing? Do you need to meet up with another writer to write together once a week? Or have a close friend hold you accountable to your goals? Are you motivated by a chart where you can add shiny stars each day you meet your writing goal?
Figure out what makes you tick, which tools and tricks motivate you, and use them – use your own personality quirks – to your best advantage. Outsmart yourself.
Get the Ball Rolling
Though it’s often hard at first to get into the regular habit of writing, once you master this and write consistently, you will discover how much fun it is. The ball will get rolling and then it’s easy – you find yourself writing on a consistent basis and getting your work done. You may have setbacks here or there, but you’ll quickly pick it back up again. This is one habit that once you master it, it becomes easy – like riding a bike.
And hopefully soon you’ll start making money from your writing – the best motivator of all.
What tricks have helped motivate you to write? I’d love to hear them – please comment below.