Finding Motivation

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ~Dale Carnegie

Do you find yourself struggling to get your writing finished? Does it feel like there is a disconnect between your brain and the page? Motivation can be a big issue for writers. We struggle to give our writing the time and attention it needs. What’s more, we feel stuck. We want to write, and yet, we don’t want to write. What gives?

Most likely, we are getting in our own way.

The inspiration to write doesn’t always just come out of nowhere. Inspiration comes from, among other things, clarity of vision. By having clarity, you leave the door open for creative inspiration to come walking on through, sometimes when you least expect it. But cultivating a life of creativity conversely often means having discipline.

So why are you stuck? Let’s start at the beginning by addressing some pertinent questions and ideas.

1. Why do you write? If you write for money and fame, you may as well quit now. Quick fame and wealth from writing is exceedingly rare. Write because you love the craft, because you have something to say, and your motivation to write will grow exponentially. But get some clarity on why you do what you do. Which leads us to our next point.

2. Do you have a purpose, mission, or calling? Having a purpose for doing what you do can keep you sitting at your desk day after day and pounding out the words. What is it? Answer the question, I feel compelled to write this book because… Once you are clear on what your purpose is, create a vision board that displays your intentions and why you write. Hang it in your writing space.

3. What do you value? Make a list of your top five values. Align your writing with those values (getting clarity on your values can also be a source of inspiration. For example, I value relationships, so often my stories have themes that involve friendships or parent/child relationships). When your writing revolves around what you value, your authenticity will shine through. Readers will be attracted to that realness.

4. Identify your negative thoughts. Often what we think influences our actions, and we may not even be aware of it. That internal voice can be insidious, sneaking in negativity when we least expect it. When you want to write but suddenly feel repelled by it, stop and think about your internal thoughts. Are you thinking it’s just a waste of time? Are you telling yourself you are no good? Turn those thoughts around and make them positive.

5. Create positive affirmations. Write out those positive thoughts and put them near your writing area. Read them out loud every day. For example, “I have something important to say.” “There is no wasted writing.” Fill your mind with positive affirmations. Don’t leave room for the negative, doubting thoughts.

6. Free write. Commit to spending ten minutes a day free writing, or writing whatever comes to your mind, without stopping, without censoring yourself. No editing, no fixing. Just write for ten minutes. Sometimes perfectionism gets in our way, making us stop before we even get started. We tell ourselves if it can’t be perfect, then we won’t write. Freewriting can help you break through that mental barrier. Give yourself permission to write badly. It’s okay. Really. It’s just ten minutes. Once I’ve done a free write, I am almost always motivated to write some more.

7. Reward yourself. You spent time writing today! You’re already more motivated than you were before, just for trying. Give yourself a reward. Heck, go buy a bunch of gold stars and give yourself one every time you sit down and write. Or, if you are like me, treat yourself to a pumpkin spice latte. Whatever works, but give yourself a reward—you deserve it!

By the time you’ve finished these steps, you will have written, which means you’ve broken through your lack of motivation. Congratulations!

Now, use these steps every day to create the discipline you need. Your clarity of vision will get you motivated to sit, butt in chair, and write every day. What are your strategies for overcoming a lack of motivation to write?

Happy writing!

~Erin

In a Perfect Word Editing

My name is Erin Beth Liles, and I have several years of editing experience. Aside from my bachelor's degree, I have a certificate in copyediting from UC San Diego, and I have studied developmental editing with the Author-Editor Clinic. I've worked with both independent and major publishing houses, but my true love is working directly with authors. I also write young adult fiction. My YA novel Phoenix Burning is represented by Mansion Street Literary (and I have another novel in progress) and my short stories have been published in Ladybug, Stories for Children, and Knowonder. Several of my nonfiction articles have appeared in Austin Family Magazine, Mothering Magazine online, and Mamapedia. My children's picture book A Friend for Freckles was published by Guardian Angel Publishing in 2013. My novelette, Outside the Walls, is featured in Clean Teen Publishing's Wonderstruck Anthology. I am a member of the Professional Editors Network, Copyediting, SCBWI, and She Writes.