STAYING MOTIVATED TO WRITE

If you're a writer, one of the most important things you can do is stay motivated. The process can be difficult at times, and sometimes it's even necessary to take a break from writing for a while. But if you're serious about being a writer, it's important to stay on task and keep working through those difficult moments when they come up — even when it feels like no one will ever read your work!


Here are some tips for staying motivated as a writer.

Writing every day

Staying motivated to write every day is a good way to get into the habit of writing. Writing every day helps you stay focused and get better at writing, so if you can do it, that's awesome!


Many people find it difficult to stick with this practice because they don't know where or how to start. Commitment and consistency are key in forming habits—so if your goal is simply to write more often, try creating a daily writing routine that works for you.

Goals

Goals are an essential part of staying motivated to write and can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. If you're just starting out, setting a goal can help you get started. For example, if your goal is to write one article per week for the next three months, it's easier to track your progress and make sure that you stay on track rather than trying to set a vague end date (e.g., "someday").


Set SMART goals by following these guidelines:

  • Specific – The more detailed your goals are, the better chance they'll work out for you in the long run.

  • Measurable – Make sure that there's a way for you know when something has been achieved (or not).

  • Attainable – Achieving something should make sense given what's currently possible based on past experiences and/or skillset(s).

  • Realistic – Don't set unrealistic expectations—it's okay if something takes longer than expected!

  • Time-based – Give yourself enough time in order for success; don't rush yourself into doing something before it feels right!

  • Balanced – Make sure all aspects of life are being represented well throughout any goal(s) set forth; don't neglect other areas where they may need attention!

  • Flexible–– Be willing adapt if necessary when things change unexpectedly during this process; remember: nothing stays forever.

Use a timer

Using a timer is one of the most effective ways to keep yourself on track.


Set a timer for the amount of time you want to write, and then try your best not to quit until it goes off. That way, if you're having a hard time getting into it or getting excited about what you're writing, you can use that as an excuse not to continue writing. Once the timer goes off, though—you will have no choice but to take a break! And maybe by then something else will come up that excites or inspires you enough for another session later in the day/week/month...or maybe not.


Whatever happens next doesn't really matter: what matters is that now there's no way around taking some sort of break from whatever it was (writing) that was causing problems earlier today (for example).

Treat writing like a job

This means setting a schedule and sticking to it, like you would for any other job. You need to set goals for yourself, whether that’s writing 2 pages per day or finishing your first draft by the end of the month. If you don’t have deadlines, create some—like telling your sister or best friend what your goal is and then having them check in on you every once in awhile to see how far along you are. If they ask if they can read what you've written so far, just tell them no! It's not ready yet! They can wait until it's done before reading it!


Once everything is done that needs doing (and nothing more), turn off all distractions (phones!) and make sure there are no reasons why getting through even one more sentence won't happen tonight/today/right now because otherwise those reasons will eat away at your motivation until there isn't anything left except an empty feeling inside where writing used to be.

Find an accountability partner

This is someone who has the same goals you do and will help push you to work harder on them. It's also important that they understand that writing is hard, and they're willing to be patient with you when things get difficult. They should be a good writer themselves, but they don't have to be as good of an editor as you are—they'll just need to have some understanding of the process and direction of your story so they can give feedback in a useful way.

Give yourself rewards

The rewards should be things that are related to writing, but they can be anything you enjoy. They could be a small treat like chocolate or coffee, or something more substantial like a new book (which is also useful for your research!).


If you're feeling adventurous, try giving yourself an experience that has nothing whatsoever to do with being at home and typing away—like going out to eat or seeing a movie.


The rewards don't have to be expensive; they just need to be achievable. I'd suggest starting small: if your goal is 4K words per day, maybe start with 250 words per day instead—that way if you miss one day of writing on the weekend when you're out with friends and then forget about it until the next week (guilty), then you'll still have some progress made toward completing your goal anyway!


You can always increase the daily word count later when it feels more manageable for yourself as well!


You should choose rewards that are not too expensive because then there won't feel like such an indulgence when using them up quickly without earning any return from them through future completion rates in this way makes sense financially speaking while still being able (and willing).

Keep things interesting

Try different genres.


Try different types of writing.


Try different stories.


Change your characters' names, genders, and personalities.


Change the setting for your story (i.e., go from a city to the country).


Change the plot of your story (i.e., from romance to thriller).

Be patient with yourself

The road to becoming a successful writer is long and full of obstacles. It’s easy to lose motivation along the way, so it’s helpful to remember that you are not alone in this process. There are many people who share your belief that they have something meaningful to say, but they have trouble getting their ideas out of their heads and onto paper.


The first step toward conquering your writer's block is reminding yourself that your writing skills will improve over time, not overnight. Just because one piece doesn't come out exactly as you'd hoped or expect doesn't mean that all future writing efforts will be equally unsuccessful—in fact, it probably means quite the opposite!


Remembering this fact can help prevent feelings of failure from consuming you when a project isn't going well (or when someone criticizes one of your pieces). Instead of dwelling on how bad an essay feels after reading through it for the tenth time trying unsuccessfully to fix all its flaws before sending off another draft for feedback from classmates or professors, look ahead at all those other essays at various stages in development throughout history waiting patiently for their turn under scrutiny…and realize that somewhere among them lies yours!

Take breaks when it gets hard

When you're feeling frustrated with a piece of writing, take a break. This can be as simple as stepping away from the computer and spending some time on Twitter or Facebook. There's no need to feel guilty about taking a break—it's not like your writing will go away while you're doing something else!


If you find that even stepping away from your project for an hour or two isn't helping, try putting it aside for the weekend, or even longer than that if needed. Don't worry about what could happen in those gaps in time; instead focus on how good it will feel to come back to work on Monday refreshed and ready for new challenges.

Conclusion

The best way to stay motivated is to remember that your writing is a journey, not a destination. You can’t control the results of your efforts, but you can control how hard you work and how much time and energy you put into it. And if the going gets tough? Take some time off! You’ll come back refreshed and ready for more hard work.

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