Staying Motivated

Staying Motivated

Now that classes are done and only final exams remain, I’ve reached that odd point in the semester where I have a lot more free time than I’m used to. Usually I’m excited at the prospect of this extra time on my hands, but it tends to just make me lazy, even when I don’t have other pressures sapping my energy, like school. Even with more time to devote to writing in my day I still tend to feel unmotivated to write.

So, in honor of this end-of-semester phenomenon, I’ve jotted down a few things I can do to keep myself motivated to write:

  1. Removing my phone from my view and/or turning off wi-fi. This removes the temptation to distract myself, with a 75% success rate. (That wi-fi button on my laptop is way too accessible for me sometimes…)
  2. Writing first thing in the morning over my first or second cup of coffee (which I’m doing right now!). My most productive time is in the morning—especially when I write in my pajamas, for some reason.
  3. Committing to write until I hit a goal. Sometimes it’s a goal of time (writing for ten minutes), pages (hitting a certain page count), or section (reaching the end of a scene or chapter). Oftentimes by the time I reach this goal, I want to keep going further. I’ve found that sometimes the hardest thing for me is just starting.
  4. Praying for motivation. I intend to pray before every writing session, but sometimes I forget. But the power of prayer is very real—there are times when, on a difficult day of getting started, I’m able to generate words after I talk with the Lord.
  5. Skimming through my outline to remind myself of the story and what I’m looking forward to writing. When I write, I don’t let myself jump out of order for a couple of reasons. Part of it is consistency; my outlines aren’t extensive and I often generate ideas while I write. Another reason is that I do have particular scenes in mind that I just cannot wait to write, and I can use these scenes as a reward for persistence. It motivates me to keep pushing forward when I keep those scenes in mind.
  6. Going for a walk (or drive) to get my creative juices flowing. I love nature, and my mind likes to generate ideas when I’m moving. Often I’ll write a scene in my head or work out plot details when I’m walking (or driving).
  7. Listening to music. Music is an awesome tool for brainstorming and focusing. I’m often inspired by certain songs—sometimes instrumental, other times with lyrics—and have certain songs that remind me of certain works. For example, multiple Imagine Dragons songs remind me of Our Company of Fools, so when I need to get motivated for working on it, I’ll turn on a few of those songs while I’m driving/walking or attempting to write. I also use music to focus when I’m having a hard time settling down. For whatever reason, turning on music helps me engage with my typing.

One last thing I’ll add as an encouragement is this: you’re the only one who can write your story. Keep this in mind when you’re feeling unmotivated. If you’re passionate about your story, reminding yourself that you’re the only one capable of bringing it to life just as you envision it may help create motivation to keep working on it. On the other hand, if you tell yourself this and no longer feel the same excitement, inspiration, or really any emotion at all, it may be time to move on to a new story.

If you’re struggling with motivation, perhaps these tips will help you as they’ve helped me. Please feel free to share some of your tips with me, too!