In a shocking turn of events, writing is very hard and it is a lot easier to take a nap.
And look, I’m admitting this when I’ve written 30-full-length novel drafts, had 2 books published by Hachette, and am neck-deep in currently editing a draft that is 100,000-words long. I write a lot and it is, still, very hard.
“c.g., listen,” you say seriously between bites of toast because I always mention food on this blog so you’re getting a headstart, “you are doing a very terrible job at talking about motivation.”
I am terrible. 😌 But I have only just begun, so sit tight.
I get asked a lot “how do you stay motivated to write?” and it is a valuable question that I think about a lot, but usually answer very badly.
“Uhh, I just do?”
Not particularly helpful.
The truth is: I want to be an author, and that want usually outweighs my need to merge languidly with the carpet. But there are still a lot of smaller things that all tie into my need (and want) to keep myself motivated to write. Because a lot of the time my #1 thought is: “I DON’T WANNA.”
So I thought it would be most helpful to list them for you and maybe you’ll find a trick or two that will give you that extra motivating shove.
And if it doesn’t, let me know and I’ll give you a shove 🤗
off a small cliff hehe
➢ treat writing like a job
I do have the absolute privilege (backed with an intense 10 years of unpaid hard work) of being a published author. I can walk into a bookstore and pick A Thousand Perfect Notes and The Boy Who Steals Houses off the shelf because I finished them. THAT is motivating.
But ok ok, say you haven’t gotten there yet. You’re a green author and don’t know what you’re doing. Or maybe you’re an old-hand author, been writing for years but you never seem to get where you want to go. Maybe you’re in the middle. Either way, you can still consciously choose to treat writing like something to prioritise.
I haven’t been prioritising my blog recently (SORRYYYY) and you can tell. Sporadic posting. More reviews. I keep using emojis because writing is hard. (Spoiler: you can’t???? use emojis??? In your novel??? Shocked and dismayed.) I used to treat blogging like a job and I murderously protected my time that I needed to put into it. I’ve swapped and am channelling that to writing (more important for me right now; but I’m not quitting blogging!). Sometimes you have to make the conscious effort to do this: prioritise writing, make it non-negotiable that you have to work on it.
And stop calling yourself ASPIRING. You are an author. If you want to be published, you need to treat yourself like a professional, not a potato.
➢ Make yourself
You can’t just NOT show up to work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Look sometimes I don’t want to write. I hardcore procrastinate. Instagram is currently teasing me for #ProcrastiBAKING, and tbh I am well fed but there are no chapters written.
But I just make myself. I write a chapter even when I don’t feel like it.
“But won’t it be bad quality???” you say.
Maybe? Maybe not? If you only wait until you’re maddeningly inspired in a hot rush, you won’t get much writing done. Some of my best chapters have come in the midst of a writing session where I told myself to work.
➢ Actually figure out why you don’t wanna
If I whine “I don’t wanna” there’s usually a reason tucked behind it. And not just that I am a lazy bucket. Because I’m not?? I’m a hardcore SlytherPuff overachiever and I want to work HARD and also achieve EVERYTHING. 🙌🏻Except….for when I don’t. My top reasons for not wanting to write are usually:
- I’m scared I’m writing it wrong and it’s not good enough. (Translation: self doubt and anxiety. Usually the fix is to tell myself to shut up and finish the draft anyway. You get better by writing more.)
- I don’t know how to do this scene. (Ok fair, don’t write yet. Purposefully brainstorm. I go for walks. Unless I can visualise the scene beforehand, I usually get really stuck on it.)
- It’s gonna be haaaaard work. (Translation: yer a lazy, Potter. The cure is to just go do it)
- I’m no longer invested in what I’m doing. (This rarely happens to me…because I don’t start a project unless I’m obsessed with it and have been for a looooong time. But if it does happen, I figure I need to backtrack or reboot this draft.)
- I’m tired. (Translation: burn out is here, can you take a day off? refill your creative well? Make a new playlist, read some books.)
- It takes me so long to get into the zone that when I finally get there, writing time runs out and I have to stop. (Big mood. I am still waiting for a fix for this. But sometimes it genuinely comes down to just accepting your process and STOP comparing yourself to how other writers do things.)
➢ Bribes 🎶 bribes 🎶 bribes
Hey no shame if you need treats to get through. I legit bribed myself with chocolate last night to edit 3K. I even edited it down to 2.5K to get to the chocolate faster. (Which is actually a good thing because this current WIP is far too long.) But do not underestimate the power of the treat. Do you deserve cake? YOU DO.
Obviously food rewards aren’t always helpful (for like, lol, your waistline) so bargain with yourself to buy a new book when you finish a draft, or watch a specific TV show, etc. (I get to watch Stranger Things 3 when I finish this draft.) If you finish this chapter, you get to scroll Twitter for 10mins. Or go hardcore and tough like: yOU GET LET OUT OF YOUR CHAINS IN THE BASEMENT IF YOU WRITE, DAMMIT, GIZELLDA.
➢ Make sure you’re writing what YOU want
I find it very motivating when I actually am proud of my work. When I want to write because I can’t wait for that next delicious scene. It might seem obvious, but sometimes we need to stop, breath, and consider if we’re writing what excites us. Are you facing putting your characters on a long desert roadtrip and you’re like “bleh don’t wanna write today”?? Consider it’s the SCENE you don’t want. If it bores you, it will bore the reader.
I once heard an author say leave yourself tasty cookie crumbs through your plot. (I feel like it was Susan Dennard but I’m not sure?? Correct me if you know!) Make sure there’s always a scene coming up that you’re 😍dying😍 to write. For me it’s usually a bantery scene.
➢ get a writing buddy
Writing can feel so lonely…but it honestly doesn’t have to be! I have incredible writing friends and we talk craft and swap chapters and yell encouragement at each other. We hype each other up as well as listen to the low times. We get competitive and keep up our daily word counts. This year has been so rough and low for me…I pretty much wouldn’t be working on my current draft without @cosyreads encouragement.😭💛
Now, yes, it can be hard to find someone to be a really close writing friend with you. But if you do = invaluable. I think this is why things like NaNoWriMo work so well! It feels like one big writing club.
➢ sticker charts
This is also a direct result of @cosyreads 😌she uses sticker charts which inspired me to use a calendar (I think Schwab also does this too). Right now I’m ticking off working days on a calendar in my notebook (it is a pretty calendar which is important) and you’d be amazed at how inspiring it is to not want to break a streak.
➢ focus on your ultimate goals
Write them down if you have to. But what do you want? Do you want to be a published author? Then 🗣 write 🗣 the 🗣book. Motivation for me boils down to: it’s really rather addictive to see my books on the shelf. I want that again and again. So I need to write. Even when writing sucks for no good reason. (And sometimes that happens too!) But I most desperately want finished books and to have success.
Finishing a book can be the hugest motivation. Keep your focus on that.
| what do you think? |
tell me your tips and tricks to keep motivated? do we have any of the same methods? have you ever realised you’re not writing the book that excites you?