5 Ways to Get Motivated to Write

When I'd rather wash the dishes, or spend any amount of time in the kitchen, I know things have gotten desperate. This happened to me a few months ago. It's a book I'd invested a lot of time and money in, and it's a complicated book and it carries a lot of baggage and I just did not want to look at it anymore. Here are some things that helped get me through it.

1. Start a habit. For me, writing during the two-year-old’s naptime is part of my routine. It goes like this: story, song, tuck him in, and tiptoe to the computer. I don’t even have to think about it anymore. It’s even easier if I’ve already got a plan in place for what I’m going to work on. For help with starting habits, try  the site HabitForge, or read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

2. Give yourself a deadline. I keep a monthly plan visible at all times, and often I set even smaller goals, too. There’s no penalty other than a quiet loss of pride, but if you’re looking for some extrinsic motivation, try a friendly contest with your critique partners, or promise yourself a reward if you make your deadline.

3. Make it fun. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, try working on something else for a little while. When I got angsty and resistant about working on that other WIP, I took a break for NaNoWriMo and wrote a fantasy. It was completely different and refreshing. Also, the charts and stats on the NaNoWriMo site were super fun, and I got to email back and forth with Talia about daily word counts.

4. Imagine higher stakes. No, not that you’ll fall into a pit of hot lava if you don’t finish the book (although now that I think about it…). Higher stakes can involve imagining one person out there who needs this book. If I don’t get it written, it will never get published. And if it isn’t published, it can’t reach the person who needs it.

5. If all else fails, remember this: IT’S BETTER THAN WASHING THE DISHES.


You know the other thing about developing a habit—having a habitat (must be inspired by those rodents playing around the hot lava pit). Seriously, if you have a location where you write, not play, not watch TV, and hopefully away from those dirty dishes, your mind gets trained to think about writing when you go there. The other trick is to set a timer. Start with a mere thirty minutes if your muse is in a coma. Up it to one hour, then slowly increase to two-three hours. Whatever works for you and your available time.

Don’t expect a medical miracle to happen to your muse, just keep your hinny in the chair and pretend your getting something accomplished. You’ll find that you’re thinking about your story when you finally get to those dirty dishes, and within a couple of weeks your muse will start wiggling their toes.

Ooh, great addition--thank you! And yes, maybe that habitat shouldn't be a lava pit. :)

All great suggestons, Beth. And once again, I'm smitten with your graphics. This one's going on my bulletin board.

I think being kind to yourself if you "fall off the wagon," is also important...my poor oboe has been sitting there for months, it will happen someday!

I agree, Laura! Beating myself up over a failure rarely makes me feel motivated.

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