Whether you are a full-time, part-time or whenever-you-can-time writer, finding the inclination to write and keeping motivated can be immensely difficult. Motivation pulls together your desire for something with your will to achieve that thing. Writers need an equal measure of the desire to write and the determination to make that happen.
- Find a time to write that works for you: experiment with different times of the day to discover when you are most creative, where there are least distractions, and when you have the most time available
- Be clear about your desire to write: what drives you to write, what do you get out of writing – is it an internal satisfaction, is it getting your ideas out clearly, is it for public recognition, or is it for financial gain?
- Commit yourself to writing: dedicate a set time each day to the act of writing. It doesn’t matter if it is 10 minutes or 2 hours, just make sure you use this amount of time each day in the act of writing.
- Take responsibility for your own actions: stop blaming the kids, your job, your dog, the neighbour, your spouse, the economy…whatever it might be and accept you are the only person who has the power to make you sit and write, only you can find those spare minutes in your day, and only you can chose to spend that time writing.
- Remove distractions: whatever it is that takes your attention away from writing in the time you set down, do whatever you can to remove it. Turn off your phone, put on headphones, or put a Do Not Disturb sign on your door – whatever you need.
- Make it fun: it doesn’t’ have to be all hard work, writing should be an enjoyable process. Find things that make it more pleasurable. Remember point 2 – how can you build on these desires? Take time to really savour that internal satisfaction, attend a reading session and get up to read your work, send your pieces to publishers and competitions. Make it fun by writing in your favourite place, or wearing something silly like a tiara or a top hat – whatever it takes.
- Set a daily word count: setting an achievable word count can be just the thing you need to keep you writing and to stretch you just far enough. Go a step further and publish your daily word count on Twitter.
- Create a deadline: without a deadline, our writing can stay in the realm of ‘sometime, maybe, one day’. Setting an attainable deadline gives you something tangible to work toward.
- Get support: writing can be a solitary task, but it doesn’t always have to be. Partner up with someone in order to spur each other on or to work collaboratively. Join a writers’ group in order to share your writing, read others’ works, and keep inspired.
- Build in rewards: make these real, like once I reach my deadline I will get a massage, after each writing session go for a walk, if you write each day for a week you will allow yourself a half-hour relaxing bath, if you write each day for a year take yourself on a holiday. Whatever you do my suggestion is to make it something healthy and enjoyable (e.g.: don’t give yourself a chocolate after each 5 minutes).
- Make yourself accountable: tell people what you are doing and what your goals are – they will ask you about your progress and thus help keep you accountable to yourself, publish your goals and daily word count on Twitter, create a blog and post your writing from each day so your readers come to expect a daily writing post.
- Get over failure: if failure is not achieving your goals, then revise your goals so they are more achievable. For me, my fear is that I will do all this writing only to realise I am no good at it and nobody is interested in what I write – if I don’t write I can’t fail…right? Ultimately, by not writing you fail before you start. Intrinsically, whatever we desire brings us personal satisfaction or joy, so despite my wanting others to like my writing, I write, firstly, for myself.
- Be flexible: If you don’t reach your target, miss a deadline, fail to sit down and write one day – it is not the end of the world. Be flexible – perhaps you can write more the next day, or add a little time on each day for a week, or revise your deadline to be more realistic.
- Write through it: whatever block or emotion comes up as you write or try to write – work through it in your writing. Sometimes our heads are so full of other stuff that we cannot find our words. It can help to write this stuff down, get it out of your head and on paper so you can get on with the writing you want to do.
- Be your own biggest fan: Use positive self-talk to praise yourself. ‘Great work’, ‘well done’, ‘I rock my world’, ‘awesome effort today’. Say to yourself all the things you would say to another writer if they went through what you went through in order to sit and write, say to yourself what they would need to hear in order to get back out there to do it all again the next day.
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