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If you’re like most writers, you struggle with motivation.
Being a writer is one of the hardest jobs to stay motivated with because it is 100% self-motivation. There isn’t a manager breathing down your neck, a supervisor threatening to write you up, or an employer threatening to dock your pay (ha! As if writers make any money!).
But writers have all sorts of other problems as well. Self-doubt, fear, and writer’s block can put a wrench in your wordcrafting. So, how do you know if you lack motivation or something else?
Symptoms of a Lack of Motivation:
- You’ve started a million different novels, but you’ve never finished one.
- You have a story that you love and know inside and out, but you never actually write it out.
- You started a novel that you love, but half way through you stopped writing and haven’t been able to start yet.
- Being a writer excites you, but the thought of actually sitting down and writing sounds like a chore.
- When you start to think about how much more you need to write to finish your novel, you turn on Netflix instead.
A lack of motivation can destroy a writer. After all, what good is a novelist who never writes a novel? Without motivation, you’ll either not enjoy writing or not write at all. And you can’t publish a novel that isn’t written.You can't publish a novel that isn't written. Click To Tweet
As a writer, I’ve often struggled with motivation. I’ve started novel after novel just to delete them after thirty to forty pages of agonizing writing. I’ve thought about writing far more than I’ve actually written, and I’ve been plagued with guilt as I realized my writing goals were far from accomplished. But no more!
How to Get Motivated to Write:
Have an aspiration for yourself.
Is there someone you aspire to be like? There should be! No one can write quite like you, so don’t try to write like anyone else. But do find someone to look up to. Find a writer who has achieved what you want to achieve and who writes similar to how you want to write. For instance, S. E. Hinton was a brilliant young writer. She published her first book on the day she graduated high school! She never let her young age stop her. She wrote fiction, but she masterfully weaved in social issues. Decades later, her books continue to inspire and change readers. I aspire to be like her. This aspiration motivates and inspires me to write. Who do you aspire to be like?
Have big dreams. Like, really big dreams. Huge dreams. Monster dreams. If they aren’t big enough to scare you, then they are too small. Don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars. Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish as a writer. I’m not just talking about word count goals. I’m talking about book signings, bestsellers lists, and awards. Even if your list sounds unreasonable, write it all down. Others have accomplished all those things on your list. Why not you? Tape your list to a wall near where you write. Use your dreams to push you, and don’t stop until you achieve them. There is nothing that persistence and hard work can’t accomplish.
Make clear and attainable goals.
Goals are important, but if you’re like me, your goals aren’t always realistic. You might be tempted to set a goal of 10,000 words a day, but can you realistically accomplish that? A word count like that would take me almost six hours to complete, and between my day job, social life, and obligations, I would have to nearly kill myself to accomplish that goal. If your goal is killing you, it’s too high. Decide how much time you can write on the average day, then figure out how many words you can write in that time. Then subtract about 20% of those words, and that’s word goal. Why subtract? Because if you push yourself to the absolute limit every day, you’ll burn yourself out. Respect yourself and take a break when you need to. Nothing is harder to recover from than burnout. If you would like to read more about creating realistic goals and get a printable goal tracker, download my FREE kit here.If you push yourself to the absolute limit every day, you'll burn yourself out. Respect your limits and take a a break when you need to. Click To Tweet
Make a realistic schedule.
If you aren’t a morning person, why on earth are you trying to write at 5 a.m? Okay, I get it, we all have to do things we don’t want to in order to get what we dream about. Maybe 5 a.m. is the only opportunity to write, and if so, grab a cup of coffee and hit the keyboard. If at all possible though, find a time to write that will make you want to write, or at least won’t leave you dreading it. Anti-social? Use writing during your lunch hour as a way to escape eating with coworkers. Night owl? Novel writing is the perfect excuse to never sleep (it’s believable, too). Saturday sleepy head? Being a writer means staying in bed all day with a laptop. Your quirks, preferences, and kinks are unique. Your schedule should be, too.
Tell other people about your goals…maybe.
I’ve received mixed information on this one, but it appears that telling someone about your goal will make you more likely to accomplish it. If you think this will work for you, go for it. If you’re like me, however, take your goals to the grave with you if you must. In my experience, when I tell someone about my goals, I immediately become more stressed. Maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist and overachiever, maybe it’s just me, but when someone else knows I’m trying to write a novel, I suddenly feel pressured to get it done. It isn’t a good pressure, though. It’s a “Oh, no! I’m going to look really stupid if I don’t finish my novel now! They’re going to be so disappointed with me!” If you think you might react like that, DON’T TELL A SINGLE LIVING SOUL. Tell your teddy bear, tell your diary, tell yourself in the mirror, but don’t tell anyone else. And, for the love of goodness, don’t tell your mother-in-law!
If you’re like me, you respond well to treats. Knowing that something wonderful will come after hours of agonizing writing is quite motivating. Make sure it’s something special, though. I love to go to the movie theater, but I rarely do. When I tell myself I can go if I hit a certain word count goal, I’m too excited about the theater to be grumpy about writing. Do you like to write in a coffee shop but can’t afford fancy coffee every day? Reward yourself for working hard all week by taking a notebook and pencil to the coffee shop on Saturdays. Rewarding yourself will reinforce positive feelings toward writing. For reward ideas, check out my Pinterest board ‘Gifts for Writers‘ or read my article ‘7 Useful Gift Ideas for Writers‘ to find rewards the you’ll actually use.
Create a writing space that motivates.
Surround your writing space with motivational quotes and inspiring pictures. Want some free motivational print outs? My free ‘No Excuses!’ kit comes with several printouts that are specially designed to motivate and inspire writers. You can get it via the the sidebar on the top right side of this page or by clicking here. Another option is to type your favorite quotes using a large font and print them out. Tape these sheets of paper to the wall behind your writing desk, pin them to your bulletin board, or slip them in your writing notebook to stay motivated and inspired. You can follow my Pinterest board ‘Writing Motivation’ to get tons of motivational quotes chosen specifically for writers. To check it out, click here.
Invest in writing.
One of the great things about writing is that it’s super cheap to start. All you need is a notebook and pencil. Unfortunately, when we don’t have any money invested in something, we often don’t take it seriously. Once you put money into something, you are instantly more dedicated. How do you invest in writing? Purchase a book on writing, like ‘The Forest for the Trees‘, which revolutionized my life as a writer. Invest in a writing software, like Scrivener. can also invest in editing. Editing is incredibly valuable to writers. It won’t only make what you’ve written better, but it will also make you better as a writer. I offer inexpensive creative critiques for writers and proofreading. I’d love to help you with your project. If you’re interested, click here.
Find sources of inspiration.
Have you ever had chills because you were so inspired? That’s what we should shoot for every day. For me, the easiest place to get chills is at the theater, but I can’t go there every day for writing inspiration. Instead, I have to pull from day-to-day resources. You can use books, magazines, or the internet to find inspiration, but make sure you are being inspired every day. Pinterest is a fountain of inspiration. My Pinterest page offers many boards to inspire writers. I have boards for everything from writing prompts, to picture prompts, to inspiring quotes. Click here to check it out.
Make social media a motivational gold mine.
Social media can suck. It can be filled with drama and time wasting rabbit holes. It can also be your greatest source of motivation, if you use it the right way. Follow people who post and share motivational quotes and tips along with inspiring content. If you’d like daily motivation and encouragement tailored specifically for writers, follow me on social media. Click here for Facebook. Click here for Pinterest. Click here for Twitter. Instagram, along with all my social media accounts, can be found on the right side of this page in the sidebar. You may have to scroll up.
But how do I make motivation last?
The truth is, you won’t always feel motivated. You need to get in a routine. You need to be disciplined. Motivation might start a novel, but discipline gets it finished.Motivation starts a novel. Discipline gets it finished. Determination gets it published. Click To Tweet
Wait! I still don’t feel motivated!
I hear you. Sometimes you can immerse yourself in all the motivational quotes on google and still not feel even the slightest bit of drive. Motivation or not, though, a writer must write. Click here to find out how to write when you don’t feel motivated.
Question For the Comments: Who Do You Aspire to Be Like?
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