Even if we love what we do, we may find our motivation waning from time to time. It happens to the best of us, and when it does, it can compromise our focus, productivity and confidence. Guest author Angela Baker shares some of her best ideas on how to stay motivated even when life gets in the way.
Books don’t write themselves and lack of motivation can be one of the biggest impediments for aspiring authors.
Maybe you’ve written a few books already, but don’t know how to get them out there and you feel like your voice will never be known. Or maybe a personal problem is taking its toll on your creativity and you’re experiencing writer’s block.
No matter what keeps you from moving forward, experiencing ups and downs is a normal part of your writing career.
Even the world’s most famous and talented writers struggled with lack of motivation at one point, but it’s important to keep going and develop a strategy to pick yourself back up when words no longer come easy.
Write Every Day, No Matter What
Maya Angelou’s ‘just write’ strategy isn’t always easy to apply.
What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’
– Maya Angelou
Forcing yourself to write every day, no matter what, can actually be tedious and painstaking, especially if you tend to be self-critical.
However, there’s a reason why so many authors have been using this strategy throughout history. Pushing yourself to write every day develops the creative side of your brain and instills a routine that will eventually inspire you.
It doesn’t matter what you write – if it’s your current project, an abandoned side project, or just random free writing. It doesn’t have to be worth publishing either, not even worth reading. It’s just an exercise to warm up, get past the hump, and generate momentum.
You shouldn’t wait until you feel inspired to sit down at your desk, because the more time passes between writing sessions, the harder it will be to start again.
Even if it might seem pointless, take a few minutes every day to write something. The most interesting idea can start from nothing more than random words on a page.
Popular culture has a way of glamorizing the writer lifestyle and making it look like we’re somehow disconnected from the struggles of everyday life. But writers have day jobs, families, and mundane problems like everyone else. We don’t write on a bench in an idyllic park until sunset, nor spend eight hours every day in dainty coffee shops.
Finding the inspiration to write can be difficult when you have a regular job and a family, so whenever things seem to be getting out of hand, try meditation.
Meditation can help you break free from the stress of daily life and reach a state of inner peace and inspiration. Whenever your ideas seem to get jammed and your everyday responsibilities mask your inner voice, meditation can act as a self-discovery tool.
Will you become a great writer just by meditating? Probably not. However, you will get in touch with your creative self and be better able to let your ideas flow.
Get Rid of Distractions
You can’t find inspiration or motivation by writing with the TV turned on in the background, nor by checking the notifications on your phone every couple of minutes.
Technology can be distracting, so apart from a playlist with chill beats, try to get rid of any temptation that could distract you from your goal.
Join a Writers’ Group
Even the best writers need support from their peers. In the past, networking didn’t come easy to writers, but now you can connect on almost any platform as frequently (or infrequently) as you desire. Even distance isn’t a problem and you can find the help and inspiration you need by joining a writers’ group in almost any location.
Here, you can get advice from more experienced authors, request feedback for your work, read other people’s stories and get some tips and tricks on how you can promote yourself or find a publisher.
Writing can be a solitary job, but even if you see this as a plus, having a community to encourage you will make a huge difference.
Take a Writing Course
Your writing talent is inborn, but you need to hone it if you want to become the best version of yourself.
Writing is one of those careers where you need to invest in self-education and continuous growth, otherwise, it will be very difficult to build a reader base.
Even if you don’t have any problem learning by yourself, doing this all the time can feel like wandering in the dark, so personalized feedback from a writing coach can nudge you in the right direction.
A creative writing course will teach you how to develop your personal style, avoid writing tropes, and even market your work. As a writer, you never stop growing, so always seek new opportunities to learn. Who knows, maybe your next writing coach will become your mentor!
Don’t Proofread As You Write
Sometimes, writers are their own worst critics.
But while a healthy degree of self-criticism is necessary to improve yourself, being too self-critical of your work can actually set you back – especially if you have the habit of proofreading or editing your text as you write it. You should learn to write first and polish your sentences later.
Editing as you write could interrupt your narrative, hold you back, and make you too judgemental of your work.
Destructive self-criticism can get in the way of your creativity and even keep you from writing all together because you may think that you’re not good enough.
Developing self-compassion as a writer starts with allowing yourself the time to learn and get better. If you feel inspired and have an idea, write it down. It doesn’t matter if it has typos or if it needs to be tweaked.
No one writes a masterpiece from the first draft. After you finish writing, wait for a few days so you can look at your work with fresh eyes or send it to a service such as Grab My Essay for review.
Break down big projects into smaller chunks
Big projects can be intimidating and make you lose your motivation. Break them down into smaller tasks that are easier to achieve. Small victories will give your confidence a boost.
For example, don’t aim for your book to become an Amazon bestseller right away. First, promote it on smaller platforms to gain visibility within smaller circles, then build a readership base slowly.
Similarly, don’t expect to finish your novel (or series) as quickly as you hear of other authors accomplishing that task. Speed may come once you’ve refined your process, but judging yourself or comparing your ‘output’ to those of others will likely result in more demotivation.
Set smaller goals, such as writing a certain number of words daily, and you will feel much more motivated when you see your word count grow.
Find your source of inspiration
Discovering a new band, watching a beautiful movie, meeting an interesting person, visiting a new country – all of these can pick you up and inspire you to continue your work.
Writing is an intensely personal activity, so your source of inspiration will not be the same as someone else’s.
- Haruki Murakami confessed to running 10 kilometers every day to reach a deep state of mind.
- Cormac McCarthy got inspiration for his dialogues by paying close attention to the people talking around him.
- Ian McEwan drew inspiration from his grandparents’ stories.
Inspiration is all around you, so find a source that resonates with you and go with the flow.
Try, try again
Some of the world’s best-selling authors became known after years of being rejected by publishing houses. Ernest Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, and Kurt Vonnegut are just a few examples.
One newspaper even told Rudyard Kipling that he just doesn’t know how to use the English language.
Don’t give up on your dream, trust your instinct, and try again until an opportunity presents itself. The book world can be very skeptical of newcomers, so you should be prepared to handle rejection.
Sometimes, there may be some truth in their rejection and you’ll have to improve if you want to get published. Other times, your work isn’t something that the publisher is looking for or there isn’t a market for your book yet. There are many other reasons why good books get rejected, but this shouldn’t stop you from persevering and accomplishing your goals.
Know when to take a break
Everyone needs to rest from time to time, and it’s alright if you take some time off to recharge your batteries.
If you feel drained, not stuck, then forcing yourself to write every day will not work. On the contrary, you will feel frustrated, anxious, and sooner or later you’ll forget why you love writing in the first place.
Instead, put your laptop away, change your environment, go on a mini-vacation. When you come back, you’ll be refreshed, excited, and full of new ideas.
Getting some distance from your work and experiencing daily life without having to constantly think of writing will put things into perspective and help you think of new material.
And there are no rules as to how long your break should be – some writers are ready to get into the swing of things after one week, others need to take a few months off, and some bestselling writers need years to come back in full force.
Everyone is different, so don’t be afraid to follow what you are being guided to do. Just make sure procrastination, fear or self-doubt aren’t the reasons you stop writing.
Questions? Comments? Please share them below.
About the Author
Angela Baker is a self-driven specialist who is currently working as a freelance writer at TrustMyPaper writing services and is trying to improve herself and her blogging career. She is always seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth and is convinced that it’s always important to broaden horizons. That’s why Angela develops and improves her skills throughout the writing process to help to inspire people. Also, she writes for LiveInspiredMagazine.