Saturday, February 9

8 Tips For Finding The Motivation To Write

8 Tips For Finding The Motivation To Write

Sometimes we don't want to write.

Perhaps you've hit a rough patch in your work-in-progress, perhaps you've come back from vacation or--like myself--taken time off to heal an injury.

Often getting back into the swing of things can be daunting and there's the guilt of having taken time off, for not having written (or edited) for a few days.

Deadlines loom--and perhaps pass, unmet.

It's natural to want to give up, to push the anxiety-inducing project to the side.

That's where I'm at now, and I'm looking for ways to pull myself out of this funk and WRITE.

So, in that spirit, here are 8 reasons to write, even if, like me, you don't feel like it.

1. Reward yourself

Give yourself something, a reward, when you finish your writing goal for the day.

For some, this might be a glass of nice wine, for others this might be a piece of fine chocolate--or perhaps a cup of hot coco with masses of miniature marshmallows dissolving into white foam on top. (You can perhaps guess what my preference would be! I'm a sucker for hot chocolate.)

Or perhaps you could get some time to yourself. For instance, if you have children, perhaps you could arrange for someone to mind them for 15 minutes or so while you take a nice hot bubble bath.

Or, if neither of those excite you, perhaps give yourself permission to watch a movie or an episode of your favorite TV show.

In the article How to Find Your Daily Writing Motivation James Chartrand writes that there are three things to keep in mind when choosing a reward:

a) The reward must be personal

It has to be something you want and something you're not going to feel guilty about afterward.

b) The reward has to be immediate

In order for the reward to work you need to give it to yourself as soon as you accomplish your daily goal. This way the reward will be associated with the stimulus (meeting your goal) and unconsciously you will feel that much more motivated, next time, to sit and write.

c) It has to be special

If your reward is something you regularly indulge in it won't motivate you to write because you'll be able to indulge in it regardless. James cautions that it may take several weeks for this method to reach its peak effectiveness, but it does work!

2. Set up consequences

Jody Calkins in her article 3 Keys to Getting Motivated to Write recommends also setting an extreme consequence that will befall you if your writing goal goes unmet. For instance, 50 pushups or crunches.

Or babysitting the neighbor's kids.

3. Warm up with a writing exercise

You wouldn't start exercising without warming up first, the same goes for writing. Do a writing exercise for 5 or 10 minutes to help get your creative juices flowing. But be sure to keep it to under 15 minutes or so. The goal isn't to start a whole new project (unless it is, then go for it!) it is to get you back into a writing mindset so you can work your way back into your old project.

4. Re-read a few pages of your previous work

Trish Love Elliott in Ten Ways to Find Motivation to Write recommends re-reading your previous pages as a way of working back into--and renewing your passion for--your project. She adds, though, that one should guard against getting so caught up in editing that you don't move on and write new words.

5. Write in a new place

One thing that sometimes works for me is going to my local (overpriced) coffee shop and treating myself to a decadent beverage--the more decadent the better! It helps if you surround yourself with all the accoutrements of a writer. The idea is to put yourself back into the mood, so play the part of the writer hanging out at the coffee shop, channeling her muse.

6. Read

To start yourself off, read for 15 minutes. If you're having a hard time believing you can actually do this thing, that you've got to be crazy to even think you could write, and so on, get a bestselling book from a second hand store or from the library. Pick one you think is horrible. The idea is to find a published book that sold well but makes you think: Hey! I can do this!!

Because you can.

7. Get your friends involved

Ask one or more of your friends to phone or email you and inquire whether you wrote. Be honest with them!

If you don't have anyone you feel comfortable asking to do this for you, set up your calendar program (I use Google Calendar) to send you an email reminding you to write.

8. Start small

In the beginning, when you're trying to ease back into a project, it's best to start small. Rather than demanding of yourself that you work for three hours, try 15 or 30 minutes. Once you're back in the groove you can increase the amount of time spent writing or editing.

Here are a few tips on how to, once you get back into a daily routine, keep it going: 12 Writing Tips: How To Be A Writer.

Do you have any advice, any tips or tricks, to share? How do you help yourself keep to a daily writing schedule?

Other articles you might like:

- Describing Character Reactions And Emotions: She Smiled, He Frowned
- Tags, Traits And Tells (Podcast)
- Good Writing: Using The Senses

Photo credit: "Untitled" by eflon under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.


  1. To me, keeping going once you've begun is key. I wrote before about breaking the inertia and rolling once started, and I've found this even more true as I write more often.

    1. Me too, definitely. It has been difficult getting back into the swing of things after taking a break so my arm could heal.

  2. These are all great tips. I set up a goal for myself for february, but I am finding it hard to sit myself down and write. Reminding me, I should be writing, not browsing the web... lol.

    I've tried #1, 4, 5, and 6. And for NaNoWriMo #7, though she's not a "writer" friend, she tried it herself, and though she gave up because she was too busy, she still cheered me on and asked about my progress. It did help motivate me.

    I should come up with a reward for reaching my feb goal, maybe it'll help motivate me.

    1. "... I should be writing, not browsing the web... lol."

      Sorry! :-)

      A reward is an excellent idea. I have a wonderful bakery a couple of blocks away so I never have trouble thinking of rewards! ;)


Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies. I do appreciate each and every comment.