In this new year almost all of us have shiny, new writing goals for ourselves. Sometimes even with great, new goals, I still find myself lacking the motivation to write. I let other things (family, friends, even chores) steal pieces of my writing time. It’s so easy to let this happen, to lose that extra spark that has us rushing to our computers whenever we have a spare moment. The more often I let those things interfere with my writing the easier it is to continue to let them interfere. So sometimes (okay, most days) I need help finding the motivation to write. So here are 10 ways that help me find the motivation to write.
When you’re having a hard time with the story….
1. A Clean, ‘Quiet’ Work Area: Once I avoided my writing for days, until I realized it wasn’t my writing I was avoiding, but the mess in my ‘office’ (which also doubles as the guest bedroom and the general dumping ground for everything my husband can’t find a place for). I find I need an organized-ish work area in order to write. It helps to have a designated spot where you can get in the habit of being creative. Now, for some people this is a cafe or a library. These spots don’t have to be ‘quiet’, they just have to be somewhere that you won’t be interrupted ten minutes after you start.
2. Re-read Your Previous Pages: Sometimes I can easily get myself into my chair but I can’t get into my story. Rereading my previous pages helps me tremendously. The only caution would be to stop yourself from editing them, much.
3. Music: Now say that you’ve sat down at your tidy desk, read your previous pages and then stared at the blank screen with an equally blank mind. Now you’re thinking, ‘Great, Trish, what do I do now?’ Now, you listen to music. I usually make up a soundtrack for each novel I write. I add and take away songs as I write, but I usually always have one or two that get me into the frame of mind I need for my story. I listen to those first and usually words will start trickling out.
4. Exercise or Nature: If you’re still having a hard time getting the words to flow, then perhaps you need to get your blood flowing, or rather pumping. Getting outside for a walk, or going for a workout, seems to get rid of my dullness of the mind. I can usually get my fingers to fly after I’ve gone for a run.
5. Craft Books, Articles or Blogs: Our lives are so busy it’s easy to forget that we’re writers too. When this happens and we’re struggling to find the energy to go work on our stories, learning can open our minds and inspire us. I find reading a great craft book, or if I don’t have a lot of time, reading an article or writing blog about craft or even about the writing life, inspires me and gives me the drive to carve out my writing time again.
6. Quotes: I love quotes. I drink my morning tea from mugs that each have their own motivational quotes. I have a friend’s daughter who plastered her door in quotes. Quotes can be corny, but can also inspire. Seeing a quote at the moment of your decision of whether you’re going to write, can steer you in the ‘write’ direction. One of my faves is, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” It’s on my morning tea mug.
7. Books and Bookstore: When I’m feeling out of love with my writing, I can sometimes pull myself out of my funk by reading a fantastic book, or by grabbing a tea and wandering the aisles of a bookstore or library. Reading an amazing story makes me want to do the same. I want to give that same feeling of joy and wonder that a good story gives me (my husband calls it Book Buzz when I reach the end of a good book). Looking at all the books in a bookstore fills me with a desire to write (and a desire to read everything in sight). The only problem with this way, is that sometimes I have to finish the book before I can start writing, because the book is too good to put down!
8. Writing Friends: Both online and in-real-life writing friends are amazing for motivation when we’re feeling lackluster about our writing. They also hold us accountable when we start to slack off, and kick our butts when we need it. Writing friends are also great to hash over new ideas or story problems. What is even more amazing is when you can meet these people in real life, whether at a conference or just out for a coffee. Being able to connect with others who also have voices in their head, and aren’t being medicated for them, is very inspiring and usually makes me crave alone time with my laptop.
9. Take a Shower: I find that if my writing mojo has dried up then all I need to do is water it. For some reason, I get fantastic ideas when I’m washing my hair. These ideas are usually about my story and make me itchy to get to my laptop. So next Friday night when your friends ask you to go out, tell them you’re going to wash your hair instead, and get some real writing done!
10. Schedule Your Time: Now, I know we’ve all heard this before about planning your writing time into your busy schedule, but until this past week, I’ve never actually ‘typed’ WRITING TIME into my calendar. But this past week I did exactly that. I even included annoying alerts to let me know I would be writing soon. And you know what? It actually worked. Now I wasn’t always at my desk on time, but I made it to my desk almost every time. (Which for me is fantastic.) Scheduling and actually putting the time into your calendar, like it’s a doctor’s appointment, means it’s harder to fill that time slot with other things, like errands. It gives your writing time a higher priority, which is always good.
I hope these small things help you keep on your path to achieve your writing goals. Do you have any others that help motivate you to either get your butt in the chair, or to come up with story ideas? I would love to hear about them. Or if you have a favourite quote, I’d love to hear that too!