What’s your writing process? Over past few months, I’ve received messages from writers who’ve lost their motivation.
They’re stuck at home. First they’re bored, then depressed. Their motivation to write disappears. One writer said to me: “no one has any money. So even if I finish my book and publish it, it won’t sell.”
People do have money and they’re still buying books. If you find yourself swamped by negativity, please understand that it’s destroying your career.
And writing aside, a negative life is a miserable life. As Abraham Lincoln said:
Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.
(Quoted in Francis Carpenter’s Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln.)
You need a writing process to stay motivated.
Create a writing process and stay motivated
Over the years I’ve read a lot about motivation. Much self-help advice on motivation reminds me of the old joke: “The beatings will continue until morale improves…”
In my experience “motivation” is ephemeral. It’s just a mood, so it comes and goes.
Interest is much more valuable than motivation. Whenever you feel as if your motivation has died, strive to increase your interest in the activity or topic. There’s always more to know and to do.
Let’s look at some tips which will help you to stay motivated/ interested, no matter what.
1. Write anyway: build a HABIT
Writing becomes a habit over time. More than an activity, it becomes a way of thinking and a way of life. It’s years since I had to force myself to write. In many ways, this is a nuisance. It’s impossible to “take time off” because there’s no off switch. 🙂
Try the Seinfeld Calendar Strategy, it works to build a writing habit:
“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
Once you’ve built your habit, you just… write. Good mood or bad mood, you write anyway.
2. Bored? Add more projects
It’s easy to get bored with projects. During your writing time on every book and on every writing project, there will come a time when it’s easier to quit because you’re bored.
Boredom happens. It’s normal. You’ll often encounter it. Take it as a hint to either start a new project, or switch projects.
Bored with your novel? Introduce a new character. Kill a character.
If you’re writing nonfiction and boredom hits, switch to another project. However (this is important) go back to your stalled project before you switch off your computer. Read through the project. Write a sentence or a dozen.
If you persist with a stalled project, you’ll eventually become interested and motivated again. Be like a dog gnawing a bone. 🙂
3. Finish what you start
Persistence is a habit. So is quitting. Never allow yourself to quit once you’ve taken on a writing project. Never.
I know it’s challenging. Sometimes you’d rather do anything than work on a project. Do your best with this. FWIW, once you’ve built a writing habit, it’s much easier to finish all your projects because you stop paying so much attention to your moods.
Your writing process: write anyway
Here’s a summary:
- Build your writing habit;
- Work on several projects concurrently;
- Complete every writing project you start.
Most importantly, have fun. 🙂
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