Let’s face it, some writers don’t write full time.
The common case scenario involves working a fixed hour job, taking care of your home, dropping kids off at school, dealing with bills, trying to do all the extra lifting to get the writing and reading community notice you exist and by the time this is all done, you have only an hour to yourself which you just want to use to rest before doing it all over again. So you are tired and on your fourth cup of coffee and trying to remember what your book was about in the first place or where you left that tiny piece of paper with the scribble that just might be the idea you need to make your book work. And here I am trying to get you to get motivated to write.
But you want to be motivated.
Let’s be honest what writer doesn’t love the moment when the jumbled up crazy ideas and images in their mind come rushing out like a broken damn unto paper, whether of the physical kind or the digital? Or when you reach that daily word count or when you finally get to write ‘the end’ on your manuscript?
You just have to do it.
First things first, you have to make time to write. There are some things in your day you can cancel or postpone or do more efficiently to make the time to write. Even if you can only come up with twenty minutes in a day, it’s how you use it that matters. When you have this, there are steps that could become your routine to help you stay motivated and stay writing.
Focus on why you write:
We all have a reason we started writing in the first place and when the hustle and bustle of life comes our way, we sometimes lose focus of it. Actively remembering our reasons can bring us back to perspective. I find writing it down helps. That way I can always pick up my notebook and read it.
Picture yourself writing:
Sounds funny, I know, but it tends to work more often than you’d think. We know we are writers, we know that’s what we do. We can picture our characters and stories, we can imagine it. That is the essence of our writing spirit yet we fail to apply it when it gets to the time to write. An inspiration to write a story is imagining you write that story. Close your eyes and imagine your fingers moving quickly across your keys, or your hand holding your pen and writing feverishly across your paper. When you open your eyes it is with a clear vision of what you are trying to do and the temptation to mimic what you just pictured. That would get you in the writing spirit.
Just write anything down:
I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with a number of writers and I noticed a common pattern even if it doesn’t apply to all. Writers are perfectionists. No matter how crazy the rest of our lives may seem, when it comes to our book babies, it has to be perfect. This is what we are putting out to the world there’s no room for mistakes. But that’s just not how it works. Writing, much like every other creative venture is subjective. There’s no one size fits all so you can’t start out searching for perfection so just write whatever it is you think of, mistakes and all.
Fuel your creative spirit with books:
You can’t give what you don’t have, so even though it seems like there’s no time, you have to read. It’s your duty as a writer. You can schedule time of day, week of the month or the months in a year to read. You don’t have to fall down the reading rabbit hole, just schedule your reading time and before you know it you have so many ideas and the motivation to write just as good if not better than the writers you’ve read.
Set daily targets:
It can be overwhelming thinking of the grand scheme of things, how many words you have to write, edit, promote, and so much more. So forget about the whole and think of the now. ‘Today I would write 1000 words’. Keep using this mindset everyday and before you know it, a book is in your hands.
I know, even I don’t like doing it and I was an athlete, but it’s important and very helpful. I find that the days I do exercise are my most productive days. Do simple cardio to get your blood pumping and your creative juices flowing (I’m not talking about the sweat).
Eat a balanced diet:
It’s not always easy but it’s something everyone should do not matter their career path. If you really, truly can’t then at least eat something healthy right before you write. I find that when I eat heavy meals, I’m always sleepy and slow, but when I eat something super light, I burn through it so fast that I have to pause writing half way and go prepare another meal. Both cases distract me from writing.
Switch it up:
Get out and try something new. Inspiration strikes anywhere so go out and find it. As much as books and your imagination can give you inspiration, finding out something new or just being in a different environment can change a lot in the creative game.
Speak with a mentor:
Look to someone who has done it before. It’s easier when you have a mentor who is preferably a writer guide you through their personal experience in writing and give you insight that you might not have from hearing a general view of what it is to look for motivation as a writer. Luckily there are mentors at the WriteMentor Spark programme for that.
Talk with other writers:
Having a community of others who understand and are going through the same journey and problems has been a really great help in my writing career. Sometimes even with no specific direction from them, just hearing their stories or seeing Gifs of encouragement has helped bolster my spirit and motivated me to work harder.
When I was a student in a boarding school, we had fixed limited meals and more limited than the meals were the snacks. Sometimes I’d be so tired after school and have an assignment I just had to get done. I started something, when the snacks were given, I’d hold out on eating it until I finished my assignment and then I could indulge in it. I carried this into my adult life and it has played a huge role in getting me to complete my tasks especially my writing. Give yourself rewards, ‘I’ll go out with friends after I’ve reached this amount of words’, ‘I’ll buy myself that bag after I’ve finished my first draft’. Make sure to stick to it, it’s all discipline.
Be held accountable:
This can be verbal or written. You just have to tell someone you respect or value their opinion your goal. “I’m going to finish my book by mid-year.” You’ve said it, it’s out there in the universe and in the mind of that person you respect. Now you know if you don’t live up to this declaration, you are going to be letting someone down. You no more have the luxury of excusing yourself at every turn and pushing your deadline further and further away until you can’t see it anymore.
Same time same place:
While it is true to try something new or go to a new place when you are well and truly stuck, having a fixed routine is the best way to trick and stimulate your brain into behaving a certain way. I can’t stress this enough, constant repetition is key. Every day, you exercise, make a healthy snack, listen to certain music, sit down at a certain place and open your laptop and write. If you do this often enough, anytime you wake up and you don’t feel inspired to write, you can go through this routine and by the time you have your laptop open, your brain is already thinking, ‘it’s time to write’ and all those buried ideas and the motivation just come pouring out.
So there you have it, the routines I use to stay motivated when writing. I won’t say I use them all at the same time, but anytime I apply even just a few of these, I always come out with something good.
Let me know what routines not mentioned here work for you and which ones here you’d like to give a go.
Now for some tough love, watch this video:
Chio Zoe is a Young Adult Fantasy writer. Her debut novel To Cross a Blade amd Dagger placed her as a finalist in the Breakthrough Novel Awards. She is currently working on book 2 scheduled to be released in 2019. Chio studied Architecture and Fashion Design, yet has always loved writing. When she isn’t working on her debut series, she writes short stories on her website (chioojukwu.com).