How to Trick Yourself Into Getting the Writing Done

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Here’s the ultimate paradox of the writing life: Writers almost never want to write.

For ten years through my adolescence and early adulthood, I wanted nothing more than to be a professional writer, and yet I wrote hardly a word. When I did try to write, I hated the experience. I didn’t like anything I was writing. So naturally, I found excuses to avoid writing.

The desire to write never went away, though, and I eventually learned that my ego was using my fear of rejection, failure, and self-doubt to talk me out of writing every time I tried.

Over the years, I learned to trust my inner creative voice that led me to write despite those fears.

Here’s the problem, though…

Sometimes writers don’t want to write — and that’s OK.

Since I have become a professional writer, I have learned that creative rhythm does exist. Creativity comes and goes in various levels of intensity. Forcing myself to write when I’m at low-intensity doesn’t work. It merely results in a lot of mediocre writing.

However, professional writers can’t rely on mood to write. Professional writers get the writing done.

So how do writers tell the difference between when the ego is getting in the way or if they truly are being guided by their inner voice of creativity?

The ego falls for tricks.

The impressionable ego can be easily tricked into writing, even when it’s slinging up all kinds of excellent excuses not to. When it’s writing time, and you find yourself resisting, the ego can be swayed with a few small mind tricks.

The key here is to make these mind tricks as small as possible.

When I’m making excuses not to write, I usually tell myself something like this:

Maybe I’ll just sit down and have some coffee…

OK, I’ll turn on the computer, that’s all, just to have it ready…

I’ll go ahead and open the file and get it set up, then I’ll stop for the day. I don’t have to write if I don’t want to…

But where was I? What was happening in the story? I’ll just take a quick look at the outline…

Oh yeah, I was writing about how Amy found the address for David’s secret cabin…what if she decides to investigate…?

OK, I’ll set a timer for 15 min and write that scene, just to get it down before I forget…

And then I’m writing.

When I trick my own ego in this way, once I’m actually writing, resistance isn’t a problem anymore. If you try these tricks and find that you’re still resisting, then you can trust that your creative voice is guiding you to step back from the writing.

Your inner creative guide won’t fall for these tricks.

If the writing still doesn’t flow, then you know you need to step back, take a break, take a walk, journal or meditate to figure out what’s happening.

Maybe your creative guide is telling you the plot needs to go in a different direction. Or that you need to go back to the outline to check structure. Maybe brainstorm new scenes.

Usually, when my writing comes to a halt and I can’t convince myself to write one more word, it means I’m writing extraneous scenes and I need to jump forward in the plot, or it means I’ve taken a wrong turn in the story and need to go back and change something.

Whatever the reason, it will be temporary. Trust that when the problems has been solved, your creative guide will let you know.


Struggling to finish your novel? I can help! Try my free course to Finish Your Novel in 8 Weeks.