How To Stay Motivated As A Writer

Photo by: Jeff Djevdet

We all fall into the traps of writing slumps and listen to the negative thoughts at one point in our writing career. The pessimistic voice that tells us that our writing isn’t good enough is just an excuse that leads us to give up; it wants us to be lazy

Perhaps it isn’t the voice inside your head that discourages you from doing what you love. Maybe it’s a family member or friend that laughs at your writing and believes you’ll never attain your goals.

Whatever it happens to be, here are my tips to stay motivated.

1. It’s time for some ASMR.

You’re writing that novel, your fingers aren’t catching up with your thoughts, and then, suddenly, they stop coming to you. You squeeze your brain and search through your “little gray cells” trying to find what to write next in this heart racing action scene that will keep the reader at the edge of their seat. Your efforts are fruitless. You decide to set your novel aside and grab a snack and a refill of coffee. Returning to your desk, you realize that you’re just as flat as before. You begin to panic and a rush of negative thoughts release into your mind.

Panicking in any writing situation doesn’t help. The first thing to do when you reach a writer’s block is to relax. Go outside for a walk, make lunch, do whatever makes you calm and in a Zen state. You won’t be motivated or be able to think clearly with spiteful words creating dense fog in your brain.

2. Cliche words ahead.

During you’re relaxing walk, you decide to make a stop to tackle an exciting book that you’ve been longing to read. You’re enthusiastic and now sitting on a park bench on a beautiful, breezy day. The sun is peeking through the thick foliage of a maple tree and nothing could go wrong. Well, unfortunately, you passed judgment way too soon.

You’re really into the book and it reaches an action scene that has you biting at your fingertips. For a moment you’re too enthralled by the plot but after that feeling diminishes, you notice how well written the book actually is. The writing style is magnificent and, oh, look, is it a NY Times Bestseller too?

Cue the negative thoughts here. It’s at this point where you start thinking to yourself, “I wish I could write this well.” From that stems other negative thoughts until you’ve just about killed all the love you had for your novel and every ounce of motivation.

Comparing your writing style to that of another author is counterproductive. You’ll gain nothing out of this comparison except more negative thoughts and digging yourself a bigger hole to get out of. Never compare your work to any other person’s work! All writing pieces are unique and every author has their own style. No one will write the same way that you write nor will they have exactly the same creative thought process. Find your style and flaunt it. Distinguishing yourself among the thousands of authors in your genre is very important!

3. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

You’ve won the battle with your negative thoughts, congratulations! Now, however, you are still stuck in a writing slump because you just don’t feel like writing. You go with the flow and it results in your novel collecting dust for many months. Life goes on and soon you’re so busy that you forget all about finding the time to write. Months have turned into years and now your fingers are itching to write again but you’re far too busy and won’t bother to stay up an extra hour or sacrifice your Netflix addiction before bedtime to wake up early and write. Goodbye, dreams of becoming a published author.

With hard work come fruitful outcomes. You’ll never achieve your ambitions without putting time towards them. Set yourself some realistic deadlines and follow them. My own personal policy is not to delay my deadline work until the next day because you never know how you’ll feel the next morning or if you’ll even have the time that you assume you will. I may be fine and healthy today but wake up tomorrow with a terrible cold. Don’t sleep without meeting those deadlines!

The important thing is to keep writing every day no matter how little the word count. Even if you only get 100 words down, it’s 100 words closer to your goal.

4. Wake up and smell the failure.

After you’ve retrieved your novel from the quarter inch thick pile of dust that accumulated on your desk, you begin to pull yourself together. You set deadlines and write every day, ignoring all your negative thoughts and battling the slumps with writing prompts and exercises that spark your imagination. At last, you complete your novel and submit it to a publisher. Your insides are a pot of emotions, boiling like a stew. Though you are anxious, you remain optimistic and confident. Every day you stalk the postman through the window as he nonchalantly places envelopes in your mailbox.

Until one day it happens; you receive a letter from the publishing company you submitted to and it casually dismisses your novel with a standard letter of apology. You can’t understand why. The plot was original and exciting, it had so much potential. You think to yourself, “Maybe writing really isn’t for me.”

In everything you do, you have expectations. When those expectations don’t turn out to be reality, however, you tend to give up too soon. The important thing is to always keep in mind that failure will happen. The fact is that you will experience failure but that’s okay. It’s because of failure that we learn and become better at what we do. Let failure motivate you towards success. Channel that failure to make you want to prove everyone wrong and show them that you can succeed.

5. A sappy ending.

After your letter of rejection, you persist and work with an editor to make your novel even better. Once again, you put all your hopes and dreams into one envelope and place it in the mailbox. Your new daily routine is stalking the postman at noon and you secretly want to document it.

Finally, it arrives in the mail again; a letter from the publications. This time, however, you aren’t as confident and you fear rejection. Much to your surprise, your novel was accepted! The story you put tons of effort and love into will now gain an audience.

The biggest driving force of persistence and motivation is love. If you love what you do, you’ll always come back to it. Make sure that you feed off of this and keep kindling your passion to write. Even if you think you don’t write well or that nobody will read your work, keep writing. If you continue to write you’ll only get better at it.

Happy writing!