Please welcome guest blogger Aileen Pablo with five tips to help writers stay motivated.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you planned on starting that draft of your novel last month, but life got in the way.
Now answer me this – how many months have you been using that excuse?
The shameful secret that a lot of writers don’t tell people is that they don’t like writing. They enjoy the feeling of creating something and love it after they’ve finished writing, but the act of sitting in front of that keyboard and clacking away is a mentally and emotionally exhausting chore.
But they find ways to make themselves do it, and here’s why: if you hope to write professionally, you have to be able to find ways around this block so that you can get your writing done.
With that in mind, here are five ways to motivate yourself and start filling up all that white space:
- Go enjoy someone else’s story. Writers tend to find inspiration in the stories of others. So if you’re really blocked and just don’t know what to do, take a break to watch a movie or TV show, or read a few chapters of a new book. You might be surprised by how much it motivates you to want to do it yourself –- not to mention the ideas you can get. Just be sure you’re going off in a unique direction and not writing about a magical little orphan boy after getting “inspired” by Harry Potter.
- Remind yourself that every first draft sucks. Why exactly is this motivational? Too often we stop ourselves from writing because we think our ideas or writing are not good enough. Do you know how many writers feel this way? Just about all of us. So if you can stop yourself from worrying about how well something reads and simply focus on getting it on the page, at least you’ll have something that you can work with and improve when you come back to it.
- Write to a word or page count. Many writers have trouble staying motivated to write to the end of the story, but for some reason having a specific word count or page number that we have to reach each day helps. Some writers like to work for a certain number of hours each day. Find something that works for you, and you’ll worry less about the quality of what’s on the page and more about getting something onto the page.
- Doing something once means you can do it again. Writers don’t like to think about writing as a process unless that process involves opening yourself up to the muses of the ages and letting them fill you with their wisdom. But for many of us, that kind of thinking is incredibly counter-intuitive. One of the best ways to get past procrastination and other mental blocks is to remind yourself that you’ve done this before and then think about what worked for you then. It seems crazy, but when we’re in the midst of a block, we really do forget that we’ve done this before. Oftentimes, simply remembering that and talking – or writing – about it can put you in a better mood and help you to slide right past procrastination.
- Express yourself in a different medium. Can’t handle all that white space on your monitor? Try something else, like standing and dictating into a recorder or using voice recognition software. Or do something completely out of your normal element like making a video for YouTube (you don’t actually have to post it), blogging, or drawing a few pictures.
It can also be incredibly helpful to talk to people about your ideas and try to work through your writing problems and setbacks rather than in your own head and on that painfully blank page. The important thing is that you don’t give up, but instead try to find different angles that get you excited about completing your work.
About the Author: Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges and InformED, one of Australia’s leading providers of distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career. She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines. You can find her on Google+.