How to Find Your Motivation
Everyone knows that if you want to get better at writing, you need to write. But how many blog posts and ‘motivational’ posts are there in the world screaming at you: write every day! At the same time every day! Do it! Do these just leave you feeling like a failure?
We get it, some days you just can’t write. Some days you come home from work late at night and just about have the energy to make beans on toast, watch Netflix and go to bed. Some days your toddler has pushed you to breaking point and all you can do is sit in a dark room with a cold towel over your eyes. Not every day is a writing day. I have personally gone weeks without writing, but the funny thing is – the longer I go without it, the lower I start to feel, and I need a few hours with my laptop or notebook to feel rejuvenated. We all have our own processes. However, I know as well as anyone that sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to do it. You set aside a time to write, you stare at the blank page and nothing comes. It all seems futile. Writing is hard, it’s gruelling, and sometimes you forget why you do it.
So, what can you do?
Start by giving yourself a reward for writing. A glass of wine, some chocolate, an extra episode of that series you love. I personally write on a Friday because I love the feeling that my week is winding down and once I’m done I can sit back with a glass of wine and revel in the knowledge that the next day is the weekend and I don’t have to do anything. Writing days for me are now something I desperately look forward to. I’ve trained my brain: writing is no longer a chore. Writing is now my reward after a tough working week.
Remember everyone starts small. The problem is that, for many of us, the goal we set ourselves when writing is a long term one, one that can’t be realised in just one sitting, and knowing that makes it hard to keep going. Think of it like running – one day you make the decision that you’re going to get healthy and start running every day. Three days go by and you wake up aching all over and craving something unhealthy, and you can still only bring yourself to run 1km before you’re out of breath and tired and miserable. You tell yourself that if you just keep at it, in 6 months to a year you will be much fitter and be able to run much further, but what good is that here, now, at 6am, when you’re trying to convince yourself to get up and do it with no instant reward? Writing is the same. Start small and forgive yourself for it. Be proud that you wrote 500 words today, because that’s 500 more than you had yesterday. Celebrate it. Who cares if you never even finish this book? Don’t spend your days thinking it’s taking too long, this will never be done, just write it. Give yourself small, achievable goals. Stop worrying about the ending.
Seek out sources of motivation. Remember, motivation isn’t internal. When I’m running out, there are certain books I read that remind me what kind of writer I want to be, certain places I go that get me in the mood for the story I want to tell, certain company I love that inspires me to get going again. Everybody is different. Find what inspires and motivates you – a good book, a good film, the beach, a forest, a friend – and motivation will come.
Finally, no matter where you are in your writing process, no matter how difficult, or stressful or impossible it seems, remember…
Your favourite author has been there.