It’s time for Motivation Monday again.
The inspiration for this post comes from writers who promise that they’ll achieve their writing goals when they have more time. These writers tell me: “I’ll have lots of time to write when… the kids go to school; this summer vacation; when I retire, etc.”
Sadly when the long-for event arrives, the writer rarely settles down to achieving his writing goals. Indeed, he often writes less.
What’s happening here?
My theory: the challenge is pressure and expectation.
When you put pressure on yourself to write, your creative self goes on strike, because your expectations rise. When you have five whole hours to spend writing, you expect to easily complete chapter of your novel, or three blog posts, or a client’s project.
Instead an hour later, you find yourself stretched on your sofa binge-watching a stack of DVDs, or suffering the world’s worst migraine.
If you know you pressure yourself, consider taking that pressure off and removing expectations. When I suggest this to my students, they worry that without pressure, they’ll simply avoid writing.
Two strategies and a habit may help you to become both creative and disciplined.
Motivation Monday: step by step to easier writing
Try the two strategies. They are:
- Musing (casual outlining with little lists);
- Writing without expectations, because you know that writing is a process. It’s rare you’ll write anything from go to whoa.
Combine the two strategies with the habit of creating schedules.
Your Motivation Monday strategies: no pressure
To write, you need the cooperation of your creative self, as well as your logical self. These two selves won’t be driven in harness.
Your creative self is playful and dreamy. When you grit your teeth and tell yourself: I’ve got two hours to write….(a project) your creative self shrugs and leaves you to it. Inspiration can’t be forced.
If you want your creative self to cooperate so that you write easily because you’re inspired, you need to develop a gentler approach. Instead of opening a computer file and forcing yourself to tap the keyboard, muse.
To “muse” can mean to gaze thoughtfully. Try thinking about your project. Make some lists. For example, if you want to write a blog post, make some word lists—about anything at all.
Aim to drop from your everyday mind state into an associative state.
…there is a strong link between associative abilities and creativity… Furthermore, associative thinking contributes to problem-solving and critical thinking skills…
Associations lead to inspiration. After five or ten minutes of listing, you’ll feel inspired to write. So start writing, without expectation. Chances are, you’ll be surprised that you suddenly have a great idea for a blog post.
Your scheduling habit: schedule your writing
Musing and writing without expectation appeal to your creative self; they’re essential strategies for any writer. However, you also need to get things done. You have deadlines and writing commitments: to others if you’re a professional; just to yourself if you want to achieve your writing goals.
Writers write, so you need to slot writing into your schedule. Every day, if at all possible.
If you’re shaking your head because you have no time, get up half an hour earlier, or write in your lunch hour. Enter your writing time into your schedule; this is non-negotiable time, just for your writing.
Try the above Motivation Monday strategies and build a habit of scheduling your writing time. You’ll love the results.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.