Motivational meltdown results from having excuses to procrastinate and/or distractions. This blog provides motivational tips and ideas, if you really need them, but if you’re reading this purely as a distraction to avoid writing then please: stop now, open your WIP, and just write! Don’t be worried if it’s good or bad. The simplest trick to motivation is to just go ahead and do something. Physically make yourself write. I’ve realised myself that unfortunately nobody can hold our hand along this journey unless we’re willing to commit to a plan ourselves. You must have the desire and the drive to achieve this yourself.
…still reading? You shouldn’t be, but I’ll continue the post. I’m going to talk about my own motivational lapses – the causes and the solutions. I’m hoping you can relate. There are different reasons that I have lost the will to write, and each is explained below:
Reason 1) I think emotion is a primary reason for avoiding writing. When you’re tired from a hard day at work or a session at the gym, writing will be the last thing on your mind. My line of work involves a lot of time spent at a computer, so I’m also reluctant to put myself in front of a laptop to do my writing, because it means longer spent staring at a screen. However, I get around this point by convincing myself that I can work on pen and pad for a while, and type it up late – at least it means I’m doing something. There are lots of ways you can justify the avoidance of writing – ‘I’m too tired,’ ‘I work for a living so I should give myself a break when I have time off,’ ‘I’m actually not feeling that great…maybe I should crash and watch some TV instead.’ How do we overcome these excuses?
Solution 1) You might feel tired at the minute, because you are faced with the prospect of doing yet more work. But imagine how you will feel once you’re writing. Imagine how it feels to write not for purpose, or payment, but for enjoyment. And imagine what your emotions will be like when you’ve successfully completed a part of your writing, meaning you’re closer to your goal of finishing a book. This should act as a good motivational boost, but for something extra, you could try rewarding yourself when you’ve completed a section by doing something you enjoy. Also think about adopting a pattern of writing. If you’re a morning person, wake up that little bit earlier to write, when you will be most alert. Analyse the reasons why you feel tired, and whether there are other things you can do to help your emotions: exercise, more sleep, a change in diet to consume foods for energy etc.
Reason 2) Writing is a juggling act. Often I think: how do I balance work, a healthy exercise plan and a social life, while finding time to write?
Solution 2) Oddly enough, I found that the more I filled my schedule, the more time I had, because I was planning my time wisely. Time will go by no matter what, so you must choose how to use it. What’s more important – sitting around doing nothing, or feeling accomplished? Falling into a set pattern or routine is usually helpful, so identify where you have free time, and decide what you do with it. Make sure you do make room for other things you enjoy and relaxation, otherwise it can become very stressful.
Reason 3) The deadly sin of procrastination. It’s easy to think ‘I’ll do it later’ or ‘I’ve plenty of time – there’s no rush.’ You are also provided with ample distractions given that we live in a digital age. Sometimes, it’s enjoyable to indulge in the odd distraction, but it’s important to keep focussed on your goals. If I do distract myself, I try to do so with reading – so at least I’m actively learning and processing the work of other individuals.
Solution 3) Turn off the internet, lock away your mobile and seclude yourself for the time period that you’ve decided to write. Make your space the way you want it – some people focus better in a tidy environment, others like clutter because it makes them feel as though they’re working hard and involved in the process. Remind yourself of your goals, and if deadlines don’t make you anxious, then consider setting them. It gives you something to strive forward to achieve. Also bear in mind that ‘I’ll do it later’ usually translates to ‘I’ll do it in several weeks…or not at all.’
Reason 4) Writer’s block and self-defeat. I’ve always wondered what ‘writer’s block’ actually means. Does is exist? Or is it simply a state of mind or mentality that we put upon ourselves? My view is that writer’s block occurs when we lapse into the state of mind whereby we don’t think our work is any good. I’ve been there more than once where I’ve been reluctant to consider a project because the inner demons are telling me it’s no good. When I feel negative about my work, my inspiration vanishes.
Solution 4) I think it’s important to try and reign in your inner critic, at least until you have written the piece, and then that critic can be useful to you in the editing process. This allows you the freedom of thought, and a positive attitude that encourages creativity. Remember the editing process is all about ironing out rough pages, you only need to focus on putting one word down after another in the simplest terms (I wish it was this easy!). Even if you write when you have a block and it takes you longer to get words onto a page, it’s still an achievement. It’s still progress.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope my honest thoughts may be useful. If you’ve enjoyed it so far, stay tuned for the next edition, where I will discuss grammar and the editing process and address the question of whether a semi-colon has a place in modern fiction. There are contrasting views on this fact.