FAQ / Writing

What Motivates You to Keep Writing?

Today I’m answering a question from Amber, a reader and aspiring author. She asked me how she can keep writing when she’s tired at the end of the day from other jobs, kids, and just the usual busyness of life.

This is such a great question, and one I’m constantly trying to find the best solution to in my own life. I always seem to think that lack of time is the biggest obstacle to my writing. Whether or not that’s true, or if it’s just what I tell myself, I’m not sure. But it seems clear that without some type of motivation, writing becomes nearly impossible. And with so much craziness going on, it’s normal to struggle with writer’s block or real-life emotions clouding the emotions you want to portray in your story.

The short answer to the problem is: find what works for you. Because we’re all different, true? But that answer seems like a cop-out, so I’ll give you a list of ideas from myself or other authors. I get lots of good advice from my critique partner, Ellie Ann. Maybe one or more of these will work for you, or inspire new ideas you come up with . . .

How to Keep Writing, No Matter What:

1. Write in the same place at the same time, every day.  This is a way of tricking your brain into making writing a habit. When you get to that familiar time and place, your mind knows it’s time to write. The hard part is finding a time that works best for you on a daily basis. Maybe you can wake up before the rest of your family. Or maybe you’re the last one to go to bed. Or maybe you can talk your child into a midday hour of quiet play time/reading time, and that’s when you go and frantically write as much as you can in the allotted hour. Find what works and stick to it!

2. Prioritize and sacrifice.  There’s only so much time in the day. If you want to move writing up on your priority list, that means something else needs booted off. No, not your other job or your family, God forbid. Something nonessential. When I got serious about being a professional writer, I gave up TV. Seriously—I don’t watch TV now except for special occasions a few times a year. I also had to give up some of my reading time, which was much harder. But to fill the void, I started listening to audiobooks in the car or when I was doing housework. So that’s how I get my reading fix, and we all know how important reading is for writers. It’s a requirement for the job!

3. Multitask like it’s an Olympic sport.  Since there is only so much you can sacrifice, and since you still need to take care of yourself (sleep, people, don’t forget to sleep!), the essential stuff needs to be multitasked whenever possible. That was why I asked my husband to make me a treadmill desk (a simple shelf mounted on the wall next to my treadmill), so I can walk as I use the computer. It’s exercise, and it saves me from a trip to the chiropractor, which happens when I sit at a desk too often. I already mentioned how I listen to audiobooks as much as possible when doing mundane chores. Also, make sure to carry a little notebook or laptop with you. That way if you’re waiting to pick up your kid from swim lessons, or waiting anywhere, you can pull out that notebook/laptop and jot down story ideas or fragments of a scene.

4. Keep that writing frame of mind.  This sounds kind of weird, but it really works for me. Even when you’re not sitting in front of the computer, you are still a writer. So think like one! If your brain isn’t otherwise occupied, use it to brainstorm for your story. If you know what scene you want to write next, you can turn that scene over and over in your head—rehearsing possible dialogue, imagining details of the setting, seeking plot holes. Then, when you finally get your time at the computer, the scene is ready to burst out of your fingertips. This also helps with writer’s block and getting your mind in the right emotional state. Try to write a new scene every day, if that goal works for you.

5. Build your support team.  If your family and friends aren’t on your side, it makes writing SO much harder. But if you tell your significant other how important it is to you, and how you could really use some more writing time, he or she can help out by watching the kids or doing dishes or whatever it takes. Or maybe you have another family member or friend who is willing to help. Also important are those people who are like cheerleaders, motivating you and encouraging you to keep going. The ones who ask you how far along you are on your book, so you want to write a lot just to impress them.  ;-)  These are the awesome people who will be in the acknowledgements of your book. Gather them close to you and don’t let them go!

Hope this answers the question at least a little. How about you? What motivates YOU to keep writing??

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2 thoughts on “What Motivates You to Keep Writing?

  1. Hi, This was fun to read and learn more about you! :) Love, Karen

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