Friday, January 15, 2010

Maintaining Motivation

Maintaining motivation is one of the most challenging aspects of being a writer. It is very easy to say, "I am a novelist!". Making the attempt or writing a novel, regardless of whether or not you make it to publication, is a very large and sometimes frightening task.

Straying back from posts that are based firmly on my experiences, I have dug out a few references that speak for themselves. However, I do have my own tips and strategies that I use to stay motivated, which I will share with you. If you're interested in my ramblings, go below the delicious links I have provided.

A few sites with references on how to stay motivated:
Wikipedia's Reference on Writing Motivation
Time to Write - Blog

... there are hundreds upon hundreds of motivational sites. There is no way I can list them all. This is a mere sampling of the motivational resources available to you. If you want more, I suggest you go to and start a search.

What I do for Motivation

  • I set goals and rewards for myself.
There are many different goals I will dig out of the closet and remove the dust from. These skeletons, for that is exactly what they are, tend to reside in that closet for along time. However, when I am down, these goals sneak their way out. The bones creak as they move, but they -do- move. There are some goals that stay with me for a very long time, but I will often set a tiny goal that will be immediately stuffed into that closet to decay. These goals are meant to motivate me right-here-right-now. They are not a long term solution to any given problem. They are a tool for me to get up off my lazy rump and get to work. Here are a few examples of some goals and prompts I use! Rewards are also a great way for me to get cracking. However, the rewards must be small. You'll see some examples below.
  1. Write 500 words
  2. Kill A Character Prompt
  3. Kill a Village Prompt
  4. Save a Village Prompt
  5. Torment a Character Prompt
  6. Write a short story in one hour or less and submit it somewhere
  7. Spend four hours writing today.
  8. Reach $x number of words by end of day today on $story.
  9. Get up an hour early to write.
  10. Go to bed an hour late to write.
  11. If I finish $x number of words, I get chocolate. (Mhmmm chocolate.)
  12. Convince significant other it is a good idea to go out for dinner if I finish $x hours of writing this week.
  13. Buy new candles if I write $x hours of writing this week.
Goals and rewards? They work, but only if you ensure that you do not reward yourself unless you succeed at your goal.
  • I write about what I enjoy.
This should be obvious, but if you are having a hard time writing, change what you are writing to something you truly enjoy. This will make the writing process less work and more play. You can't always do this, but it is a good way to up your motivation when you are blocked or having a bad day. Jump to a scene you have been looking forward to, if necessary, but continue to write. Sitting down and writing is the main priority here. You don't need to always keep every word written.
  • I write about what I know.
Having knowledge on a subject often makes writing about that subject easier. If I am struggling, I often do not have the knowledge I need to successfully write the section I am having trouble with. If this is the case, I move onto something I know now, and use research time to get the knowledge I need to continue with the section I am working on that is giving me trouble.
  • If I get blocked, I start a new temporary project.
Sometimes I just lose motivation for a story altogether. I've written myself into a major plot hole, or I dislike where the story is going. This is a common issue. I have an expedient fix for this: I start a new project and give myself a certain number of hours to work with it. This lets me clear my head of the frustrations of my main project. This is a common tactic among writers. However, make certain you only give yourself a certain amount of time to work on the new project. You are using this to clear your thoughts not to replace your project
  • I focus on my goal.
Focus, focus, focus. This is a mantra that should be repeated. Become a pitbull and refuse to let go of your goal. My goal is to publish. I have to remind myself never to lose sight of this goal for the chocolates or the dinners or the short term rewards of being a writer. Every word I write is a step closer towards the summit. Publishing a short story, or even a novel, is not enough. It is to write, and publish over and over again. This goal will never end, for it begins anew when a project is completed. It is sometimes easy to lose sight of a goal that is far in the distance.
  • I give myself a day off.
We all need mental health days. Just don't take them every day.
  • Identify my bad habits.
Knowing why I fail is almost as important as standing up from it when I do. Failure is a crucial tool. Identifying my bad habits is knowing why I fail and learning from it. Once I have identified it, it is up to me to fix the problem.


Quotes are something that motivates many people for some reason. I am no different. Here are a collection of quotes that motivate me when I am down, or keep me going when I am up on cloud 9 breathing the clean air of success.

  • "Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before!' 'Well, now that we have seen each other,' said the Unicorn, 'if you believe in me, I'll believe in you."- Lewis Carroll
  • “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” - Robert Frost
  • "Try not to become a man of success but a man of value." - Albert Einstein
  • "Every artist was first an amateur." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "Men do less than they ought, unless they do all they can." - Thomas Carlyle
  • "Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true." - Leon J. Suenes
  • "He who has imagination without learning, has wings and no feet." - Joseph Joubert

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