Tips on How to Get Motivated to Write

If you’re reading this I’m going to guess you’re having one of those days where you can’t get motivated to write. You tell yourself it’s only a first draft but the quality of your writing just seems… blah. The blinking cursor on a blank page, the endless distractions, the constant battle with procrastination and writer’s block mean that writing motivation dries up.

What do we do when the inner toddler says no?

Well, I do what most weak-willed creative types do when they can’t get going: anything else. Up to and including filling the Netflix queue with things I don’t have time to watch. Either that or decluttering the workspace (again), checking social media or making my 40th cup of tea. 

Some people call this the writing process. 

black and white photo of a black typewriter on a roll top desk

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is. Sometimes though, taking the bins out is just taking the bins out. 

Writing is such a tricky balance, Relying on good habits to get you past your own brain’s sabotage is really the only way to get consistent output. So today we’re looking at how to get you motivated to write again even when you really don’t want to.

The busy writer

Laptop open behind an open note book with a pen lying on top beside a white cup and some flowers

We make busy work of our lives and don’t stop to enjoy the creative process. There are so many things that need doing, or really should’ve been done by now. The house needs cleaning, the wardrobe needs a clear-out, you need to answer all your emails, go to the supermarket, get petrol, edit this article, proofread something, cook your meals for the week, vacuum, and consult on two more projects.

It’s never-ending.

If you’re a professional procrastinator like me, the relentless stream of modern life will always be there to give you something that needs doing that isn’t sitting in a chair, typing stuff out that you’re not sure is going to go anywhere. And you secretly think no one will appreciate it. Welcome to the club, you are now a writer. The gold plaque will be in the post.

So, what’s the answer? 

How do we get past procrastination disguised as busy work and get motivated to write again?

Procrastination triggers

Antique pocket watch

Knowing your procrastination triggers is the first step to overcoming them. There will always be too much to do and that’s not going to change. But you’re writing project isn’t going anywhere either, and no one else can do that.

Take a moment to tune in to what you’re feeling when start to procrastinate. Is it fear? The inner critic? Or are you simply lacking motivation? All common problems.

Once you know what’s going on, you can make adjustments: change your environment or the priorities on the to-do list and adapt you’re writing routine to something that works specifically for you. Even if that means writing a smaller number of words a day. It’s worth it if it helps you get motivated to write rather than stopping dead because it’s too much.

Set goals

Setting big writing goals can be daunting. They feel unimaginably large and impossible to achieve. Nevertheless, goals are a huge help when it comes to motivation. In fact, there’s even science on it. Research shows that setting goals is linked with higher motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence, and autonomy. If you know what you want, you’re more likely to go after it.

The trick is spending a lot of time working out what the small targets are and breaking those down even further into Micro habits. Once you know you need to hit a daily word count, it’s surprisingly easy to do it. Then you can stop freaking out about the big picture and how you’re going to get there.

You’re not only making the writing process less intimidating but you can also allow yourself to celebrate a ton of small victories along the way. These victories work wonders in boosting your confidence and propelling you towards your big writing goal.

Short answer? set the big goal and forget it. Go after the little daily attainable goals instead.  So, start by asking yourself what your goals really are and it’ll help you maintain focus and momentum on your writing journey.

The words Dream Big written in white chalk on a blackboard

Define the big goal

Whether it’s completing a novel, publishing regular blog posts, or becoming a best-selling author (even if you’re embarrassed about that last one), this big writing goal acts as the North Star, guiding your efforts and pushing you forward. It’s the grand vision that fuels everything and gets you motivated to write, even when the going gets tough.

And it will.

At least you have a focus, and you can look back at how far you’ve come. While we’re on the subject of big goals…

Unrealistic expectations 

Don’t give yourself a mountain of words to do every day. Do give yourself an amount of work that isn’t going to burn you out and take regular breaks while you’re at it. I wish I’d taken this advice in 2020 when I started this blog in earnest (didn’t we all). By Christmas, I couldn’t write another word.

For nearly 3 years.

I was so desperate to achieve something that I forgot that it was meant to be enjoyable too. How will your writing resonate with anyone when you’re slogging through?

Setting writing goals is not about rigid timelines and strict demands; it’s about giving your writing purpose and direction. It might seem unnatural to lower expectations. After all, everyone expects you to rise to the challenge every day but with something like this, you want to build stamina slowly. Small steps can be incredibly motivating, keeping you going until you reach the finish line. 

Getting started is the hardest part

Screwed up ball of lined white paper with the word ideas written on it

A lot of writers will tell you that just getting started in the first place is the hardest part of writing. As underwhelming as this is to hear, sometimes you’ve just got to push through.

Or if you want to procrastinate like a pro, you can do a random quizz to discover what your writing style is (or what your Patronus is or what exotic fruit you are).

Unsurprisingly, I’m a Pantser.

Unfortunately writing something when you have no idea where it’s going can sometimes mean getting stuck and losing motivation. It’s times like these, we need a plan.

Having even a rough idea of where you going is a great way of maintaining motivation. Like a to-do list, a basic outline can be a useful tool to keep you focused so you know what you need to do as soon as you sit down at your desk. That’s the theory anyway.

Write on schedule

A flat lay of a hand holding an open Diary and pen over a white keyboard

See what I did there? 

Create a writing schedule and stick to it. Even if you’re just writing blog posts that don’t seem to be going anywhere… thanks for reading by the way.

The first of these attainable goals you can set for yourself is to make writing time a part of your daily routine. Put it in the calendar even if it’s only 10 minutes a day. That daily goal can make all the difference, even with a lack of motivation and nothing to write about.

The minute you tell yourself to take it seriously instead of waiting for a muse, interesting things happen. The muse will show up with a bunch of new ideas and start ordering you around. 

Burnout

Sometimes what you’re feeling as a lack of motivation to write is actually just tiredness and burnout. Writing can be hard work. If the usual ideas – joining a writing group, taking a walk, writing in a coffee shop- don’t do anything for you, then I highly recommend that you stop putting so much pressure on yourself.

Give yourself permission to take a break.

It’s the healthiest thing to do and it could stop you from losing years to writer’s block.  Writing when you’re burnt out rarely creates a masterpiece. You’re probably not going to miss a moment of creative brilliance if you let yourself rest and come back with a clear mind.   

Read good books instead

A person reading in bed with an open book covering her face

This counts as both motivation to write and rest for me but I appreciate that if you’re really burnt out then even reading can be difficult. If you can, however, turn to your favourite authors and enjoy the writing styles of the people who made you want to write. What do you love about their work? Character development? Plot? World-building?

The best writers have the ability to transport you and this can ignite your creativity. As long as it doesn’t make you question your own writing skills.

Apologies if that hadn’t occurred to you before.

By immersing yourself in the works of your favourites, you can find fresh perspectives and techniques that might just kick-start your writing process again.

Write anyway

Even if you don’t feel like writing, sometimes the best thing you can do is force yourself to write anyway. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write whatever comes to mind. Let go of the pressure of writing something coherent and get rid of all the unrealistic expectations.

You might be surprised at how much you’re able to accomplish in just a short amount of time. It might not be much of a writing tip but sometimes you’ve just got to show up every single day and do the hard work. The more you write the more likely it is that there’ll be a gem in there somewhere.

How to use a writing prompt

Notebooks, teacup and blank open notebook on a brown wooden table

Every post you come across on how to get motivated to write will feature some golden advice about using writing prompts. They can help you unleash your creativity and overcome writer’s block.

Fair enough.

But no one really tells you how to use them if you’re just starting out. Many prompts are too specific and just don’t resonate and you end up searching endlessly for something you can make work.  

Before you give up, think of it this way, it’s not about the prompt, it’s about what you can create from it.

Try brainstorming or mind-mapping around the idea of the prompt and start free-writing. Sometimes, the most ridiculous or uninspiring prompts can lead you to some interesting ideas. 

Find your voice in the details

Once you start to free-write, pay attention to those small details. The way you describe an empty room, a flickering light, a conversation: that’s your writing voice. Finding yourself in your writing is a pretty good motivator. 

Embrace the less-than-stellar prompts, find your voice in the details, and let the inspiration do the rest.

Finally

So, how do you get motivated to write? Well, you need a plan. It’s all about setting small targets to meet those big goals. And sometimes we need to step back and recognise that a lack of motivation is just a step of the process.  If you know where you’re going with your writing session it’s much easier to silence the inner critic and keep moving towards that big project.

It’s about finding the right balance between discipline and creativity, and understanding that every word you write contributes to your growth as a writer. Remember, even on the tough days, your commitment to your writing goals will keep you moving forward.

And when all else fails, look back over what you’ve done and celebrate how far you’ve come. Good luck and let me know how it’s going!

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