There are times when all the ideas are there, you have yourself some time, but you just can’t write.
You are in the abyss. There’s a black hole in your head?
And you’re asking yourself, how can I motivate myself to pick up that pen or keyboard and write a word or two?
But do you know why you lack motivation? If you know the why, it’s easy to get to the how.
Let us first the reasons for the lack of motivation to write.
Why Do I Have No Motivation to Write?
It sucks when you know you have to write but you simply have ZERO motivation. And you know you can’t force yourself to sit down and write. So, you sit down there and watch life get in the way of writing goals.
Why is this the case? Why do I lack the motivation to write?
1. You’re Tired
You’re exhausted—maybe mentally, physically, or both. This, I believe, is the most common reason for lacking the motivation to write.
Try resting. Take a day off, or a week. After your body feels rested, have another go at it.
Sometimes, you’re just lazy, and you pull that “I’m exhausted” card on yourself. That’s not productive. It’s important to know the difference between being tired and being a silly sloth.
If you know that you’re feeling slothful, relax a bit, do some yoga or general stretching, or go for a walk and come back energized.
2. Something’s Wrong with Your Story
Your dialogue isn’t sounding natural, your story isn’t patching up nicely, the character arcs are not that exciting.
In fact, everything sucks.
Going forward is almost impossible now because it feels like you’re dragging your story through thick mud.
It is not your writing that’s awful, your story just has many holes in it—it’s missing some meat.
Or there might be a fire gutting down your plots and you need to stop this fire from destroying your story. Take a break, and focus on the story itself.
If you used outlining software like Plottr, go back to the tool and rearrange the visual timelines and edit your story bibles.
If you didn’t outline your story, that might be part of the problem. Try outlining the book with one of the outlining tools.
Belief is the most significant trait that enables people to succeed in life.
You have to believe in yourself as a writer. Self-doubt will kill your book (or career) before the critics even have a go at it.
You need to trust in your ability to create. But with self-doubt, the creative process becomes a terrifying experience because you constantly question yourself if what you are writing is good enough.
This can get you to a point where you’re filled with 100% fear and ZERO motivation. It then becomes impossible for you to write.
The first thing that you need to know is that you are unique (and so are your stories), and it’s that uniqueness that readers are looking for—they are not looking for a new Hemmingway or Dr Seuss.
They want a part of you that no one else can give them. All you’ve got to do is believe that you can give it to them.
Tips to Getting Yourself in The Motivated Mood for Writing
You’re lacking motivation, and maybe your deadlines are fast approaching. Nobody likes that impuissant state, a feeling of helplessness.
Don’t despair though, there are some things you can do to motivate yourself to write.
1. Have Some Fun
Maybe the lack of motivation stems from the stress and tension in other parts of your life. You have to spice up your day—do something to relieve that stress and mental exhaustion that stands in between you and that bestseller.
Throw a party, go watch a movie, go to a pawn shop, or watch some sports. The most important is to do something that’s entertaining.
2. Set and Commit to Daily Goals
If you’re a sloth, 250 words per day will do. Or you can write a paragraph, write for 20 minutes, or a page per day.
Always make sure you set an attainable daily goal so that you don’t feel discouraged.
No matter how lazy you’re feeling, COMMIT to the daily writing goal. If it seems too hard for that day, lower the numbers until it becomes doable.
3. Set deadlines.
Most writers I know love deadlines. To keep yourself excited, try setting a deadline in your planner.
Even a story becomes boring without a conflict to tense it up, a deadline represents a similar tension. Set a due date for a word count, chapter, or the whole first draft. This way, every day will feel like a race, and if you‘re a highly motivated individual, you won’t have the liberty of slacking.
4. Find a Perfect Writing Spot.
Find a place where you’re most productive with your writing. Make sure it’s free from distractions. If you don’t like crowds around when you write, find a private spot. Alternatively, if you like a bit of a frenzied environment, find a good café, train station, or a public park that you can use to write.
5. Join a Writers Group.
On your own, it’s very easy to feel demotivated. But by Joining a writing group (that has regular meetings), you’re responsible for helping achieve goals set by a larger assembly. You can’t be selfish, you have to contribute to the group’s goals.
Your fellow writers from the group can also offer you free writing advice.
6. Create a Self-Rewarding System.
Because you are giving yourself incentives for achieving a writing target, you’re literally bribing yourself to write.
And, this is the only context that I consider bribery a very good thing.
You can promise yourself a chocolate bar, a cup of coffee, or some nice Netflix movie after reaching a writing milestone.
7. Get Rid of Distractions
Sometimes it’s the news on the TV, always drawing you away from your bestseller. Maybe it’s the games and texting apps on your phone.
Turn off the TV and stay away from your mobile phones. Turn off the Wi-Fi. If you feel like listening to music improves your productivity, then turn it on. If not, it’s just going to be more of a distraction than inspiration. Turn it off.
8. Read a Book by Your Favorite Author.
Pick up your favorite writer’s book to inspire yourself.
Failing to tell your tales? Why not pick up Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to help you breathe in the genius of creative writing.
9. Embrace imperfections, for now
Forget the grammatical errors and the other little imperfections in your draft.
Editing whilst writing will just make the task look more laborious than it already is. It’s understandable that you want your work to be error-free—everyone wants such tidy impressive work to win them more page visitors, book readers, or publishing contracts.
But doing all that cleaning whilst writing your first draft will only slow you down and get you exhausted before making any respectable progress.
10. Find Music that Puts You in the Mood
If you’re the type of writer that likes to listen to music to get into a good creative space, then experiment with your music.
One of the reasons for feeling demotivated might be that the music you’re listening to is not befitting.
Try rock and roll when writing a high-paced thriller. To make the mood more sadistic, you could experiment listening to Beethoven while writing a murder scene—I think a psychopathic killer would love such an artistic vibe while killing his victims.
I usually like listening to instrumentals or foreign songs. That way, I’m not worried about trying to sing along because I don’t know the lyrics.
11. Have a Drink
I’m not talking about coffee or red bull.
Get yourself a glass of a hard drink. A very good way to lift up your spirits
If you get way too drunk to write, you might use that experience as a writing prompt later.
12. Drink Coffee
If you’re a sober person, the previous suggestion is not an option. Or it might be that you drink but don’t feel like it’s productive to have a glass of whisky when you’re writing.
You can harness the energizing effects of caffeine. Write a couple of sentences and reward yourself with a hot cup of coffee.
Coffee has a high caffeine content that can help sharpen your focus and help you fill that blank page.
13. Get Yourself Pumped Up
Creativity involves unleashing sides that are rarely seen.
Bring out your crazy side, or simply get your blood pumping. Go for a jog, get on the treadmill, or turn up the sound system and shake off that writer’s block.
Write immediately after the exercise, whilst your blood is still hot.
14. Use Tools to Help You Write Better
I’m going to talk about these tools in the last section of this post, but I have also tackled them in separate posts.
With the help of these tools, you can speed up your writing output, improve the quality, and make writing more comfortable.
15. Read Inspirational Quotes
Inspirational quotes will get you pumped up, but they can also provide you a good muse.
Read quotes from famous writers (dead or alive) and use them to understand what these writers thought about some of the things you face as a writer.
16. Use Writing Prompts.
Stir up the creative genius in you by using writing prompts, but be careful to avoid random fluff prompts that may not be useful for your writing. Writing prompts are essentially topics or ideas that can inspire you to write a story or develop an idea. These prompts can take the form of a single word, sentence, phrase, clause, or even a whole paragraph.
You can easily find writing prompts online, in a print magazine, or some exciting moments in your life that you remember.
How to Make Yourself Write When You Don’t Feel Like It
You have tried and failed to get yourself in the writing mood. You still don’t feel like writing.
So you know now that you have to literally push through because anything sounds better than just looking at a blank page blink at you.
So how can you get yourself to start writing even when you don’t feel like it?
1. Remind Yourself Why You Started Writing
Think of a janitor, you don’t expect anyone to be passionate about cleaning up after your mess, do you? But they still do it because they have a family to feed, bills to pay, and they need money to buy clothes.
Writing might be a hobby for you, but there’s still a reason you chose it. Now ask yourself again, what’s that reason?
Do you want to be a bestselling author? Do you want some revenue from your books? Or you just want to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a published author.
How much do YOU want it?
If you answer those questions and you convince yourself that you really want it, pick up that pen or keyboard. Write!
2. Set Easy Targets
Goal setting is a good way to motivate yourself, but sometimes all it does is pile pressure on you. It’s a psychological thing; naturally, humans want to avoid stressful situations (as much as they can) and find a comfortable state.
A big word count would be an example of such “stressful situations.”
You have to cheat that human in you by setting very easy goals. You could say, “I’m just going to write 30 words the whole day,” or “I’ll just google some things and write down a few notes from those things.”
By doing this, you’re telling your body and mind not to worry because the task is going to be way too easy.
When you start writing this leisurely, the writing will flow without effort and you might even write a couple more paragraphs than what you intended because writing didn’t feel laborious when you started.
3. Nike It!
Follow what Nike says, Just Do It.
And… Did you know that Nike is the name of a goddess of victory in Greek mythology?
Victory, that’s what you want right? To be successful in your book writing?
Just know that if you fail, you have no one else to blame but yourself.
So write or be a FAILURE—your choice.
Why Is Writing So Difficult?
I have talked about motivation and why you sometimes don’t feel like writing. The thing is, writing is generally hard.
People think that, as a writer, all you do is sit down and type away.
Only if they knew.
Writing is a bloody enterprise. But it can be easier than what it is for some of us. Why is it harder then?
Here are some major reasons why writing is more difficult for some writers.
Trying to find perfectionism in writing is vain. It will just drain you, and you won’t have a single ounce of energy remaining to finish your first draft.
Focus on getting your work to see the light of day rather than focusing on perfection. Hire a proofreader to go through your work after you finish writing. Don’t get uncomfortable with your work during writing. After all, someone will help you with the cleaning after you’re done.
You don’t have to wait for the perfect time, the right mood, or the perfect place to get one or two lines written.
You have to have an established schedule which you must cling to. The thing about freestyling your writing sessions is that you end up being an inconsistent writer—days, weeks, even months may pass between consecutive writing sessions.
When you follow a consistent writing schedule, writing gets a lot easier. Over time, you start to see an increase in your daily word count.
3. Lack of Belief in your Work
I have tackled self-belief in this post. In that section, lack of belief might have been somewhat of a short-term problem.
But it can be bigger than that.
The doubts that you have concerning your ability to create makes writing a bit more difficult than it really is.
Of course, there will be people who won’t like your work. No doubt.
But even the most famous writers of this world have endured criticisms and failure. Do you know how many times JK Rowling’s work was turned down before she became a published author? A dozen times!
A Dozen. And many writers have had to endure worse than that but have persevered to become bestselling authors.
Forget the negative what-ifs, and focus on your creative process. It’s not necessarily a Que sera sera type of situation, but you never know; you might be the next Stephen King.
Useful Tools to Help You Write Better
The toolset for the contemporary writer is very different from what writers from a hundred years ago had. Now we have these amazing online writing tools that enable the modern writer to monitor writing tasks, speed up the writing process, check the quality, and ultimately add some excitement to the writing process.
If you want to check your grammar (as you write or after), there are tools like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and Ginger Software.
Then we have book editing software—like Scrivener, Write! App, and Novlr—that function as a typewriter, ring binder, and a scrapbook.
To help you plan out your novel, you can utilize plenty of outlining software like Plottr and others.
What’s stopping you from writing that book? Whatever it is, you should know that writing demands effort and consistency.
You don’t become a good writer by constantly stressing about trivial imperfections in your writing but by consistently writing regardless of how you feel.