Five Tips For Finding Writing Motivation
About the Author: Heather Currie
Heather Currie is a Saskatoon, Canada native who has been writing since childhood. Her passion for reading and writing led her to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Saskatchewan. She is also a fitness and music instructor and a choreographer.
You can only call yourself a writer if you actually write, right?
Often, we writers have the best intentions to make time for our practices, but those plans fall through. Day jobs, family, social lives, and making dinner have all been known to make us go from thinking “I’m going to write today!” to “Maybe tomorrow…”
So, how do you make sure you actually sit down to write instead of continually postponing it?
Tip #1: Put writing in your calendar.
Just like you schedule doctors’ appointments and important events into your calendar, pick a block of time in your schedule and make your writing official. Just like you don’t stand your doctor up or miss important events without good reason, make sure to show up for your writing time.
Exactly how much writing time you schedule into your calendar is up to you. Maybe you only have time to write on Sunday mornings — schedule it in. Maybe you can squeeze in two half hour blocks on Tuesdays and Thursdays — write it down. Maybe you want to create a daily practice that sees you writing before breakfast or right before bedtime — make it official.
It may take some time to figure out what schedule works best for you, but when you do, make sure to hold yourself accountable. If it’s in the calendar, don’t skip your writing session without good reason.
Tip #2: Create daily, weekly, or monthly writing goals.
If scheduling writing time into a specific slot on your calendar isn’t your style, try this strategy for a little more flexibility. I personally live my life by my weekly to-do list, and it’s on that list that I write my weekly writing goal. This weekly goal can be a word count, an amount of time, or a specific activity.
Of course, you should tailor this goal to your own needs. Decide if you want to strive for daily, weekly, or monthly writing goals. Figure out if you prefer word, page, or time-based goals. Feel free to experiment with different goal types and to let your goals evolve with your project.
A quick tip about this strategy: make your goals attainable — though not too easy. The more you’re able to reach these goals, the more motivated you’ll be to reach the next one.
Tip #3: Join a writing group or find a buddy.
If you are surrounded by authors who are expecting to hear progress reports or even read pieces of your writing, you are more likely to do the work in order to fulfill those expectations. See if there is a writing community where you live, or create a group yourself. Having a regular meeting time will do the same thing as scheduling your writing with the added bonus of having multiple accountability partners.
Speaking of accountability partners, if a writing group doesn’t exist where you are and you’re not interested in running one, find a buddy. This buddy can be a fellow writer or even an entrepreneur or freelancer. Anyone who knows how hard it is to work without having a boss to hold you accountable.
You and your buddy can talk through regular emails, have a weekly coffee date, go out for a meal, or share wine together every once in a while. Just be sure to use this opportunity to ask each other questions about your progress, goals, and successes. These dates aren’t meant to be solely about having a good time, though that is encouraged, but also about getting a kick in the butt if you need it.
Tip #4: Give yourself milestone rewards.
What is that thing you love to do but you know is cutting into your writing time? Is it Netflix? Video games? Social media? Whatever it is, turn that activity into a milestone reward.
To make this strategy work, first pick your writing milestone. Is it 10,000 words written? Is it 40 hours of time clocked in? Is it every chapter or plot point you complete? Secondly, pick your reward. It doesn’t have to be the same reward every time. Maybe the rewards get juicier the further along you get.
A couple words of caution when it comes to milestone rewards: make sure your rewards don’t fill you with regret later. For example, if your reward is to eat a fancy dessert and you later feel bad about your sugar intake, don’t make eating a fancy dessert your next milestone reward.
If your reward is to buy yourself a book, but you eventually find yourself staring at a pile of books you don’t have time to read and wishing you had saved the money for something else, don’t make buying a new book your next milestone reward.
Great rewards are often an activity. For me, my milestone reward is to go to the bookstore and spend time looking at everything without feeling the need to make a purchase. The trick to milestone rewards is that they do need to be something you look forward to and that doesn’t fill you with regret later.
Tip #5: Remind yourself why you wanted to write.
Is writing a stress-reducing exercise for you? Does it contribute to your overall wellness? Does it give you purpose or sustain you creatively? Ask yourself why you wanted to be a writer, and remind yourself of the day you realized you loved it. Remember how great you feel during and after you write.
If your sole reason for being a writer is wanting to make a publishing profit, you’re going to have a harder time motivating yourself to get your butt in the chair. But if you can remind yourself of the emotional or creative attachment you have to the craft, motivation will come more easily.
Not all of these strategies will work for every writer. If you have no idea where to start, pick one that appeals to you and give it a go for a month or two before moving on to the next. Be sure to personalize these strategies so they work best for you, as well.
Don’t stress out if a strategy stops working for you over time. As humans and artists, we’re always growing and evolving. Allow your motivation strategies to change with you.
The big difference between writers and people who want to become writers is that the actual writers sit down and put pen to paper. You can’t just think about writing; you have to follow through. You have the ideas and the creativity in you. Now find a way to make time and space for your craft.