I’m sitting in front of my laptop staring at a blank screen. That’s my life lately, a so-called writer with no motivation. Not sure what’s holding me back. Oh, I have my excuses. The house needs to be cleaned. I got to do the laundry. I’m too tired after work. My justification is endless. Many writers experience the loss of motivation, but what can you do about it.
Instead of thinking of how to get out of writing, I looked deep inside of myself and asked, 'What do I really want?' Is the story that's been circling in my mind for years important? Or do I want to continue to feel sorry for myself?
Since you're reading this, you know my answer. I have to get my bum moving. So I came up with a list to stroke the writer's desire in anyone.
Remove distractions. Writing at home is hard. There are children, pets, and significant others you need to close yourself away from. Somebody will always want or need something.
One way to write at home and get the peace and quiet is to get up early. Yes, I know it’s hard to rise before the sun, but the first sip of coffee and the tapping of keys will make it worth it.
But if rising early is not the thing for you, try writing on your lunch break. With all the fabulous apps available, you can get some words down in a short amount of time using your phone.
Get the juices flowing. So all your social media is turned off, and you have peace and quiet. What do you write?
Open your imagination into the world you've created and step into the protagonist’s shoes. Let the character tap the keys and free write for 20 minutes. Sprinting is amazing. The most I’ve written in sprint was 717 words. Not too shabby.
The important thing to remember when sprinting is, don’t stop to edit. Doing so will severely cut down your word count. Resist is all I can say. Save the editing for another time.
Join a writing group. Writing with others is fun. There are many online and meet-up writing groups that will fit anyone’s needs. Writing groups can also help you break through brick walls and many have critique groups. Just remember, you are not alone.
These are just a few ways to get going mojo back. So what keeps you motivated to write? Please comment. I’d love to hear them.
Since I’ve started to write in earnest I’ve started to read differently. While great books still draw me into their nebulous depths those books that are on the borderline of good have me asking a lot more questions. Why isn’t this as great? What could they have done to make this better? Can I apply this to my writing? These are all useful questions for improving my writing, but they do distract from the story at hand.
I’ve tried to channel my analytical mind by filling out a book review while I’m reading. Sometimes getting the idea on paper is all I need to let the problem go, and enjoy the story more.
The questions are simple:
What are the themes of the story, and are they working?
What are three things I liked?
What are three things I disliked?
I think the key is limiting both the liked and disliked to three things. When I write a review for a great book it’s hard to limit the things I liked, and often I can’t even think of three things that I disliked. Yet when reviewing a bad book it’s important to know that there are still things that I can learn from it (by filling out the things I liked section), and that just a few key changes would drastically improve the writing.
Since I’ve started to use this questions to review others novels I’ve started to subconsciously apply them to my works when editing as well. They mindset that even if it seems bad there are still good parts to my writing helps my writing confidence. Knowing that just a few changes can improving my writing makes the editing seem more manageable.
Do you notice different things when reading now that you’re a writer?
During my day job as a teacher one of the things I often work on with my students is creative writing. It often amazes me how creative these kids can be. The plot lines they come up with are sometimes better than the ones I read in published books! That being said, there is one thing they struggle with, description.
My students are very good at knowing what is going to happen in a story, but they don’t know to say it. They often simply write out their plot. This ends up being more like an outline than a story. As such I came up with a phrase that I teach them and then stress throughout the process. That phrase is “show not tell”. What I mean by that is rather than just say what is happening you need to make the reader see it, live it. You need to use all five senses to make your writing feel real.
Many students, and in fact many people, have trouble with this idea. They would rather tell the story as it happened, much like they would while talking to a friend. What I do to combat this is to show them a simple story written both ways. Once they see how boring a “tell” story is they are more able to “show.”
Another thing I do with my students is to make sense charts. These charts lists the five senses and the students must fill it out about a character or setting. This helps them think of adjectives to use while writing.
While I typically use this technique with teenagers it could also easily be applied to any author. Any time you feel like you’re writing needs something more try using a sense chart. You would be surprised what this can add to a story.