Staying Motivated in the Midst

Right now I have a problem. It’s a problem most writers face in the course of their careers. It’s a problem of motivation. Writing is sort of a tough profession. Yes, you get to do what you love and then people tell you they actually like it, which is very edifying. But it’s also exhausting, frustrating and sometimes even heartbreaking. Things work out and don’t work out, but through it all writers are expected to keep their creative juices flowing and continue to write books. Sometimes that is nearly impossible. So here are a few tips I have for staying motivated in the midst of everything else the writers might face:

1. Identify the Problem: Sometimes it’s professional disappointment or being overwhelmed by projects or not liking the book you’re working on or just being tired. Know what’s sapping your motivation.

2. List the potential solutions: I’m a listmaker by heart (sometimes I rewrite my to do list several times a week just to complete the act of writing the list again). I find that sometimes just writing down everything I could do about something is helpful. So let’s say your problem has been identified as “being tired” in step one. That’s my current problem as I’m writing this blog. 🙂 So your potential solution could be: take a nap, step away from the computer, drink a diet coke, go to bed early, stop playing Skyrim until 2am. And maybe ten or more other solutions. Just seeing them all listed out will make you feel like you can actually conquer this issue.

3. Be realistic: In my other writing persona, I’m in the middle of writing three contracted books in rapid succession and I’ve been listing my page count/word count totals at the end of each day. They’re pretty massive, due to the quick due dates and lots of people have been asking how I do it. I’m realistic. I know what I CAN do and also know that if I have visitors or an appointment during a day, I might not be able to do as much, so I adjust my goals accordingly. Just being aware of what you CAN do as a writer can help keep you from getting overwhelmed by trying to do too much too fast.

4. Be kind: To yourself. Sometimes you need a day off. Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes you need to let go of a project that isn’t working. This one is always a challenge to me (I hold myself to often impossible standards). But I’m learning and I’m working on showing myself a little compassion as a writer. Because there are days I can do it all. And there are days that I can’t. And that’s ok.

So how do you stay motivated as a writer? Or a reader? Or a human?

  • Great post. I’ll keep lists in mind, they do help with keeping stress down, even if I write them then ignore most of the things I need to do. At least my thoughts are organised.
    Last time I had a motivation block, I read a Neil Gaiman pep talk. I shall be putting this post in my “keep the feck writing!” folder.

    Usually, when burn out happens and motivation wanes, I just take a break. Do something else for a little while and hope for the best.

  • Jesse Petersen

    that’s a big one. I take a walk sometimes and that helps. Just getting out of the house and “blowing the stink off”, as my mom would say.

  • Great tips!

    As an unpublished author (i.e. wannabe), I can say that it is far simpler for those of us who belong to this group. We write we because we love to do it. And we gladly do it for free, with no reward in sight whatsoever.

    I’m sure it was the same for you way back then. Perhaps add to that list reminding oneself that we are doing something we truly love doing?