I’ve been staring at a blank page for ten minutes now, which is ironic as I’m a writer who gets paid to write and at this moment I’m meant to be writing about how to get motivated.
But that’s OK, because losing writing motivation is something that happens to everyone. Why? Because creativity can’t be switched on and off like a tap.
So how do you find the motivation to write?
In this article, I will be discussing the many ways to motivate yourself to write a book; from setting goals and having a writing routine, to tricking yourself and rewarding yourself. I will also discuss how to avoid distractions, find ideas, and what techniques have helped top writers reach success.
Motivation To Write (And Why We Need It)
Many people think the hardest part about writing a book is coming up with the idea.
The hardest part about writing a book is having to sit down and write, then, upon seeing what you’ve written, resist the urge to throw your laptop into the nearest body of water, reach for a giant bar of chocolate, and give up.
So how do you find your motivation to keep going?
Muses, Inspiration, And Ideas
Let’s start with the magic, that mysterious spark that gets us jumping out of bed at 3am eager to tell our story.
Sometimes, we can’t get motivated because we are bored. Bored with our story, our idea, or the monotony of sitting in front of a laptop all day trying to reach our word count. If that’s the case, then it’s time to find some inspiration.
Getting motivated to write can often simply be a matter of finding something more interesting to write about. So here’s my list of ways to get your creative juices flowing.
When I teach writing to teens I like to play a game where they have to pick three prompts from a lucky dip jar – a genre, a scenario, and a random object. Write as many of these as you want (or even better, ask a friend so it’s a surprise) and pick one from each category.
It’s impossible not to feel inspired to write a fun short story when you pick a combo such as:
- Rom Com
- You are stuck in a lift with someone acting peculiar
- Rubber duck
What would your story be about?
Find A Muse (Or A Squad)
Writing motivation is often as elusive as finding inspiration, but having the right people around you can kick-start you into action.
Whereas a muse (perhaps the object of your affection) may inspire you to write beautiful poetry or the deep lyrics to a new song – a muse who gets you motivated is just as helpful.
In my case, I surround myself with lots of author friends. No one understands a writer like another writer, and they know why it’s important to stay motivated.
I have writer friends on Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups, or friends I call. Not only are they a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for moaning, but they are also the ones who will cheer me on and keep me going.
Being part of a writer gang means they can also brainstorm your next work in progress with you, or help with plot holes (after all, it’s always easier to come up with plot ideas for someone else’s story).
Join our free Jericho Writers Community to find like-minded writers!
How To Persevere When You Feel Like Giving Up
Some call it writer’s block, others call it imposter’s syndrome or simply running out of steam. Whatever has ground you to a halt, the first thing to do when you feel like giving up is ask yourself why you feel this way.
Have you really run out of ideas? (If so, see the inspiration section above.) Are you really a crap writer (I doubt that), or have you simply lost faith in yourself?
Losing confidence is part of every writer’s writing journey,
Stop Making Excuses
If you go to a writer’s house and every room is spotless, then you know they’re avoiding writing their book. Us writers are exceptionally good at making excuses as to why we don’t have the time to finish the next chapter.
So next time you find yourself procrastinating…
Get Out Of Your Own Way
Yep. You may be lacking in motivation because you are standing in your own way. Ignore those miserable voices in your head and don’t read any negative reviews of past work. Stay surrounded by positive people and remember why you write in the first place.
Prove Them Wrong
And if that doesn’t work…there’s always good old-fashioned spite!
We all have that one person in our lives who told us we would never make a success of our writing. Perhaps it was a teacher, a parent, a friend, or a work colleague.
So if you are still struggling to find the impetus to keep going with your writing then I strongly suggest you think about this person and imagine their face when you’re sitting in Barnes & Noble, or Waterstones, ready to sign your book.
Is there anything sweeter than looking someone in the eye and saying ‘see? I told you I could do it?’
Be petty and reach your goals!
The Importance Of Habit And Routine
If you’re serious about writing, you need to take it seriously. That means carving out time in your day to write, the same as you would any other job or commitment.
Find A Writing Space
Firstly, you need a comfortable place in which to write. You won’t feel motivated if you’re balancing your laptop on your lap while your flatmates talk over your head or your dog runs circles around you.
It doesn’t matter whether your writing space is a big fancy office or a corner of the kitchen table. Allocate a nice spot, somewhere where you can preferably be left alone that isn’t surrounded by things that will distract you, and make it your own.
You need to focus. That may mean seeking silence, getting out of the house, or putting on headphones and playing your favourite music.
My biggest downfall is Twitter. So when I need to do nothing but write I turn off all WiFi, put my phone on airplane mode, and tell myself I can’t get up until the work is done.
One top tip that author Angie Thomas once shared (on Twitter, of course) is to unplug your laptop and write until it needs charging. Then as your computer charges, you get to as well!
Set Aside Time To Write Your Book
Professional writers, and authors who have found success, treat writing like a full time job -because for many it is! That means they get up every morning and they write every single day.
If you’re just starting out it’s fine to write simply when you feel like writing, but if you have a deadline to meet it’s important to set goals and stick to them.
Your goal doesn’t have to be anything too unrealistic. Perhaps it’s to write 300 words a day, or complete a chapter per week, or set a date to get an outline in place.
The only way to reach the end of your book is to get that word count up – so bit by bit will still get you there. And the best part?
Some writers like to buy themselves a fancy box of chocolates and they only get to choose one when they reach the end of each chapter. Or perhaps plan a fun day out to spend with those you love the week after your book deadline.
Be Kind To Yourself
But, on the flip-side, it’s also important to take a break now and then…
If you get up in the morning and can’t face the day, I guarantee you will not produce good writing. So if you don’t feel like writing – don’t.
Watch a movie, flick through Pinterest, or go for a walk. It may feel like a break but it may inspire you too.
Do What the Professionals Do
I took to Twitter to ask professional authors of every genre what motivates them to keep writing. They shared how they find the motivation to write:
Emma Cooper, Up Lit Women’s Fiction Author Of The Songs of Us
I set work hours and treat it like an office job and open the document, even when I want to watch Netflix instead.
I break the day up into manageable sections.
Isabelle May, Foodie Rom Com Author Of The Cocktail Bar
Cake in all its glorious forms! Nothing like a reward at the end of each chapter.
It may sound basic, but going for a walk often clears your head.
Emma Claire Wilson, Author Of Emotional Thrillers And Editor Of The Glass House
If I am lacking motivation I ask myself ‘does my brain need a break for a day?’ Forcing it can result in awful words which leads to frustration and even less motivation.
For motivation I have a few writing exercises I go to, pick one out of my jar at random, and write something totally new to find my love of the spontaneous words again.
Emma Jackson, Rom Com Author Of Summer in the City
Having writing buddies to do sprints with, or make accountability goals with, really helps.
Also I have a really geeky habit of breaking down my word counts into a spreadsheet and then doing 20-30 min sessions, updating it and seeing how it chips away at the big goal.
Sophie Flynn, Thriller Author Of All My Lies
I set a 20 min timer on my phone then switch everything else off during that time and write/edit – telling myself I can stop after 20 mins. By then I’m usually in the right headspace and keep going. But it takes the pressure off!
Non Pratt, YA Author Of Giant Days
Honestly, for me, writing is only worth doing if I want to – but that’s because it’s no longer my actual job. When it was my job I reminded myself you can’t tell the bits I wrote under duress from those I wrote with joy and got on with it. You edit them anyway.
M. K. Lobb, YA Fantasy Author Of Seven Faceless Saints
I make a list of all the scenes I’m excited for and write toward them. If the book starts to drag, I know I need to re-plot to get the excitement back.
Meera Shah, Thriller Author Of Her
Short sharp bursts – it’s all I have time for anyway.
If it isn’t working, take a break. And if it really isn’t working, return to it another day!
Erin Fulmer, Fantasy Author Of Cambion’s Blood
Routine helps. I write from 7-9 most nights. I use word sprints and sometimes a focus app to block browser access. I also have an elaborate spreadsheet that tracks progress relative to my self-imposed deadlines. Basically, anything to convince my mind that writing is an urgent task.
Bethany Clift, Women’s Fiction Author Of Last One At The Party
I don’t wait for inspiration, I just write. This is my job so I write every day – sometimes 400 words, sometimes 4,000, but I always do something. Also, I believe writing is a muscle – to keep it in shape you have to use it, develop it, feed it. So I do.
Elizabeth J Hobbes, Fantasy Romance Author Of Daughter of the Sea
I simply remind myself that if I don’t get on with writing this book I will have to go back to working full time!
Lia Louis, Rom Com Author Of The Key to My Heart
Knowing exactly what bit I have to write helps me on the days I don’t want to!
Throwing my phone in the bin* helps too. (*a nice safe drawer)
A J West, Eerie Historical Author Of The Spirit Engineer
What motivates me is a desire to escape this world to somewhere more wonderful in my own imagination.
Kelly Andrew, YA Fantasy Author Of The Whispering Dark
I let myself play around with the scenes I’m most excited to write and then that makes me eager to build to those moments organically in order to really tighten the beats.
Leni Morgan, Self-Published Author Of How a Good Geek Survived The Zombie Apocalypse
I find having several books on the go good motivation. When I get stuck/fed up with one, I move on to another. Plus rereading it to familiarise myself with the characters helps me unstick myself too.
Lauren North, Thriller Author Of Safe at Home
I set myself small targets like ‘just write 250 words & then you can do what you like’. By which point I’m into the writing and ploughing ahead.
I try to think about the buzz I felt at the idea.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Motivates A Writer To Write?
For some it’s to simply share their stories, for others it may be to hold their book one day or to prove to themselves they could do it. Find what motivates you, and use that energy to keep following your dreams.
What Do You Do When You Lose Your Motivation To Write?
Every writer loses writing motivation at some point. The best thing to do is not panic:
- Take a break
- Get inspired by news stories, images, past life events, or talking to people
- Do some writing prompts
- Gather other writers around you and brainstorm ideas
- Start a new project
How Do You Get Over Writing Anxiety?
Imposter syndrome is a part of the writing process every author encounters. Like most artists, writers are rarely happy with their work, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. The easiest thing to do is:
- Avoid negative reviews (and people)
- Keep learning and bettering your craft
- Ask beta readers to guide you
- Remember the only part of the writing process you can control is writing the first draft of your novel. So focus on that and bettering it with each revision.
- Write your book anyway…you can always edit after!
I hope this article has got you out of your writing slump and raring to go. there’s no right or wrong when it comes to writing goals and penning a novel; the only way you can fail is by giving up altogether!
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