It is often tough for aspiring writers to find the necessary motivation to work on their writing every day.
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Why you need motivation
Without any sort of real, feasible motivation, you can’t hope to go through with changes, such as writing every day.
It is often the case that when people starts out to write, they only have a rough overall goal. It can be to write a novel, to get published one day or to become a writer.
The problem is that those things can be a great motivation when starting out, but are generally not enough to keep someone sufficiently motivated for a long time. It is often the case that the initial motivation subsides and is quickly gone.
A beginner without clear motivation
I started out writing quite a few times over the years. It was often the same thing that happened: I got a new idea, did a rough outlining and told myself that this time I’d write my big, first novel.
I’d start out with putting in a lot of effort and with true motivation, but after only a week or two I started to get lost. My goal was just too indefinite, too rough.
When the initial vigor and energy was gone, it was all about perseverance and discipline. Without a clear motivation though and only the rough “one day I finish this novel” I soon started to push my writing off. I’d procrastinate and finally there was a day when I didn’t write at all. Soon enough I’d only write occasionally, before I gave up altogether.
I was missing ways to motivate myself other than just an indefinite long term goal. I had to find ways that could motivate me enough to make it another day or another week.
When you start out, you can’t simply be overdoing it and think too grand. You have to start small and take it from one small change to the next.
There were some ways that kept me motivated during that time. I am sure many of these can be interesting and helpful for aspiring writers.
Ways to get motivated
I want to discuss eight different ways that can help you to keep yourself motivated when you start out writing:
Write about things that excite you:
This should be something that is clear for many people. Always use your own ideas and always write what you want to write about. You should never force yourself to follow current trends or give up on certain topics or genres simply because they are too controversial.
Working on things you enjoy can already be a motivation to sit down and write as opposed to forcing yourself to work on something that might be read by other people or be published.
Short Term Goals:
These are daily or weekly goals. This can be as simple as telling yourself to write 500 words per day and 3.500 per week.
Now it is of course not so easy to simply tell yourself to write this amount of words.
What can help is to get yourself a time table and put it near your writing area. Each day you write down the duration of your writing and how many words you wrote. It is a great way to motivate yourself by visualizing your progress.
Your first goal should be to fill up one week without missing a single day of writing. If you hit it be proud of yourself. It can really help you to keep going initially. After that you have to tell yourself you can do it again and you should try to do it for yet another week. From there you can move on to other, larger goals.
Long Term Goals:
This is the obvious next step after the short term goals. You can start by telling yourself that you now want to write every day for a whole month for example. You can also go for a certain amount of words per month.
In the end it is the same as with short term goals. They can keep you motivated by showing you what you are able to do.
Yet another thing that will keep you motivated is that you most likely don’t want to fail, after you wrote every day for a whole month. At least not for a simply reason.
The first time you will be able to muster up the discipline and the energy to write every day for a month will simply be great. It proves that you are able to change and that you can put in the hard work to keep going.
Raising the bar by increasing the daily number of words at the beginning of a new month.
One of my own personal rules is that I write at least as many words as I did the previous month. This forces me to get more serious whenever I start to lack behind a little bit.
You can also tell yourself you want to write at least 500 words per day, but put your weekly goal at 5.000 words. It will motivated you to keep pushing on a little harder.
If you hit the big number of words you’ll feel proud and accomplished. If you don’t make it, you will most likely write more than you’d do normally and it will motivate you to try again next month.
This one is very simple. If you do well reward yourself.
What you should be careful though is to not reward yourself to frequently. It should not be every evening after writing 500 words, but it should instead be once you reach a short term or long term goal or finish a new piece. Rewarding yourself every day after writing will take away the importance of the reward.
Reward yourself by going to the movies after you wrote for a week. Go on a nice fancy date with your significant other after you wrote for a month.
A good way is to create a list of things that you’d really like to do or didn’t do for some time and use them to reward yourself for your good work.
Support by Others:
Find other writers, artists or simply people who are trying to change in one way or another. It can really help to be able to talk to others who are struggling with a bigger goal as well.
Once you have found a group of people, you can for example hold weekly or monthly meetings, either in person or online. Talk about your progress and compare your results. Don’t brag or lie about your progress. If you didn’t work, admit it. Often others who did their work will start to motivate you and push you on to keep going and try again.
Groups like these give you a place to talk about your struggles, problems and find support in hard times.
What can also motivate you is to see other people who are doing the same thing or who are doing even better than you.
Finishing Shorter Pieces:
When you start writing, you should start with shorter pieces as opposed to novels or novellas.
The reason is that the biggest motivation is to finish a piece. Writing down the last sentence is often very satisfying as well as motivating.
Once you finished your first story you know you can do it, which a great feeling and motivates you to do it again.
The problem with novels is that they take a long time to finish. As an aspiring writer you are most likely not up to the task.
With short stories on the other hand, you usually have a clear ending in mind and you can finish them in a week or two. In the beginning focus on writing short stories, at least for a time.
Each piece you finish, whatever length it has, will be motivating and will help you to keep going.
You can punish yourself for doing badly, for example not writing for a day. You could set up certain restrictions, like you not allowing yourself to go out with friends, unless you wrote each day of the week.
Another way is to tell other people to go through with certain punishments. This can for example be that your significant other cancels movie night as punishment, because you didn’t write. What you should watch out for here is that it doesn’t put a strain on your life or the relationships you have with other people.
I once read an interesting article in which a writer paid a friend to keep watch over him and slap him whenever he didn’t write or would start to push things off. He said his productivity got a huge rise in the week he did the experiment, simply because he didn’t want to get slapped. It might be a more radical idea, but things like this might also be worth a try.
Now these are not the only ways to keep yourself motivated. As I said before, these are simply ways that helped me to keep myself motivated.
If you often have problems finding sufficient motivation, you should definitely give them a try. Adjust them and make changes as you see fit.
Just remember, goals that are too grand and too far away, seldom hold a strong and definite enough motivation for an aspiring writer.