What is a writer’s greatest challenge? It’s not the writer’s block, lack of imagination, nor the mastery over words. It’s finding the motivation to write. I know that because I used to struggle with it. Various reasons could have contributed to the lack of motivation, such as family commitments, burnout from working on our novel, or losing sight on why we write in the first place. There’s no need to beat ourselves up. Novel writing is intellectually demanding and time consuming, it requires mental determination and self-motivation to keep ourselves going. Rest assured we are not the only writers with this problem.
Every writer I know has trouble writing.Joseph Heller
So, here’s 8 tips on finding the motivation to write a novel:
Most writers begin writing because of their passion in literature. For others, it could be the prestige of being a published author that attracted them, or they may have started writing to make their family and friends proud. The exact reasons can differ greatly from one to another, but what’s important is to reignite the fire that drove us.
If a story is in you, it has to come out.William Faulkner
My passion for storytelling and my love for novels got me writing. I have a story to tell, I’m crazy about creating unique worlds and fascinating characters, and I enjoy writing adventures layered with intricate plots. These reasons get me excited and it’s why I write. Whenever there’s a lack of motivation, I will remind myself of the world, story, and characters I have created, and how they are waiting for me to continue the journey.
Reminding yourself why you’re writing will keep you motivated. It will further help you in moments of self-doubt and support you in pushing through difficult times. Keep them close to your heart as a constant reminder. You might want to consider writing it down and paste it on your TV and computer to deter you from procrastination and distractions.
2. Follow Your Dreams
Our dreams are a great motivator, they support us in achieving the impossible. But to be on the right path to reach our dreams, we must first have a clear idea of what they are. For instance, you may aim to be the best writer in history, but of which aspect? It can be writing ability, influence and popularity, or wealth and earnings. Which is why it’s important to know what your dreams truly represent and be motivated towards the right direction. We can begin by looking at the writers we aspire to be.
Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.Ray Bradbury
To most writers, we want to be like our literary heroes. If you do not have writers you admire, try to think of the ones that inspired you. For example, J. K. Rowling is a writer that persevere through life’s difficulties and wrote the Harry Potter series which won the hearts of millions. George R. R. Martin’sA Song Of Ice And Fire series has a unique world and captivating plot that thrilled the world. R. A. Salvatore’sThe Legend of Drizzt series inspired a whole generation of writers, myself included.
J. K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, R. A. Salvatore
Next, we need to dream big and in better clarity. Think of accomplishing achievements similar or greater than the writers we aspire to be. It can be inspiring the world for the next twenty years, to have our novel be adapted into movie, a world tour for our books, or winning the prestigious Nebula Award and Hugo Award.
My personal dreams are to share my stories with the world and hope everyone will love them. For my novels to be so popular that they can become classics of the genre. To have it be adapted into a movie series so it can reach more people. And for my books to inspire future generations of novelists and aspiring writers.
It’s ok if your list of achievements seems intimidating (mine is), big dreams are supposed to be unnerving. Have faith and use your dreams to push yourself, and don’t give up until you achieve them. Persistence and hard work are a powerful combination.
3. Make Your Goals Achievable
It’s important to have goals for our writing, they act as milestones toward finishing our novel and realizing our dreams. However, our goals might sometimes be too big and seem impossible to accomplish. That’s when we start to lose the motivation to write.
Begin by evaluating our goals. Are they realistic and achievable? If they threaten our well-being and interfere with our life, then most likely they’re not. For instance, I may be thinking of writing 50,000 words a week. That is around 7,100 words a day. Without considering the time needed for research and ideation, it will likely take me seven hours. I won’t be able to achieve my goal unless I can dedicate my entire life to writing (I wish I can) and ignore my day job, social life, family life, and other commitments.
So it’s important to set realistic targets within a reasonable time frame. Start with something small, and set a buffer to it. A good buffer is around 10% to 20%. If the goal is 500 words a day and the buffer is 20%, the daily goal will be to hit 400 words minimum. This will help prevent burnout. But if you are in the zone, go for 500 words or more. Once you get used to the routine, increase your daily goal and push yourself to achieve more.
To further improve writing productivity and to make our goals much easier to achieve, we can break them down into smaller goals. Aim for small wins. Using the example above, I can break it up and write 150 words in the morning, 100 words during lunch, and the remaining 150 words at night. The constant achievement of smaller goals will create a positive cycle. You will begin to find yourself motivated to achieve more, thereby giving you the motivation to write.
4. Have A Personalized Schedule
It’s easy to lose the motivation to write our novel while juggling other commitments in life. Which is why we need a writing schedule to dedicate time for our novel. It will allow us to focus on writing, putting ourselves in the right mindset and freeing us from other distractions.
Are you an early bird or night owl? When and where are you most in tuned with your creative side? Some writers think and write better at night, while others do it better in the morning. Some can only write during their limited spare time because of their job and kids, while others can only do it on the move. Knowing when is the best time for you is vital in establishing a realistic schedule that not only gives you the time to write, but also helps in stimulating your creativity.
I used to be a night owl, and I can write till the wee hours of the night. But due to my job and family commitments, it became a struggle. Often feeling tired and unable to concentrate by the end of the day. So, I had to make a change to my schedule. I began writing in the morning, waking up as early as 5am. I’m not a morning person, so there was a period of adjustment. But I got used to the routine. I also write during lunch when there’s a chance, though I’m more lenient with the quality for that session. When I’m on business trips, it’s hard to follow my writing schedule. Instead, I adapt to my situation and write whenever I can, and there were plenty of opportunities. For instance, before boarding and while I’m on the plane.
Of course, you may not need such a drastic change. The best schedule should fit both your writing habits and your daily commitments. Once you have a writing schedule planned, be sure to guard it fiercely against all distractions, and you will soon discover an improvement in your productivity and your motivation to write.
5. Create A Motivating Writing Spot
Every writer has different preferences when it comes to the writing spot. Some like it spacious, others may prefer to be in the corner of the room. Our writing spot should match our personality and help us get in touch with our creative side. Most importantly, it should make us feel comfortable and be free of any negativity and distractions.
Novel writing is a marathon, and we will be spending quite some time in our writing spot. Knowing what environment fits us is important to set us in the right mood and mindset. Another great way to improve our writing spot is to surround it with printouts of motivational quotes and inspirational images from our favorite writers.
I like to be alone when I write. Back when I used to write at night, it wasn’t much of a problem. I can write on the couch by myself, with drinks and snacks nearby and music to get me into the mood. After I started writing in the morning, my preferences changed. I now prefer a quiet and tidy environment. I write in my study with the door closed, and I enjoy bathing in the sunshine as it pour through the window. At work, I do my best to create an environment that helps me write, but it’s a place you have to be less picky and make do with what you’ve got.
Having a motivating writing spot will help get you started and encourage you to write. If you don’t always get to be in your cozy writing spot, then try to find a place that provides the best fit to your writing needs.
6. Get Inspired
Novel writing is a long process. Being inspired on a regular basis gives us the boost of motivation to write our novel. Furthermore, new inspirations provide a fresh perspective and may even give us new ideas to explore.
We can find inspirations anywhere. From books, magazines, TV, movies, to the internet. Novels are an obvious source of inspiration. For me, they are nourishments to my mind and fill my creative well. I have an irresistible urge to work on my own novel after each reading.
Pinterest is another great source of inspiration, you can find motivational quotes, writing prompts, inspiring artwork, and other interesting stuff on writing. Be sure not to spend too much time on it lest it becomes a distraction. It’s also a good idea to follow people that share motivational and inspirational content on social media.
Try attending a writing or publishing conference. It’s a fantastic experience to feel the speakers’ passion and love for their craft, to learn from their experiences, and to know you are part of a larger community. The only due diligence you need to do is to make sure the speaker has the experiences, skills, or background that are relevant to you, and the discussion topic is useful to what you need.
7. Your Writing Doesn’t Need To Be Perfect
Our novel is our pride, it’s the fruit of our labor and the embodiment of our passion. So, it’s natural that we aim for perfection in our writing. However, perfectionism can be both a gift and a curse.
When I tried writing my first novel, I wanted it to be perfect. But because I was so engrossed in perfection, I never get to finish my first draft. I began doubting my capability in writing, and the fear of failure drove me even further into the extreme of perfectionism. Writing became taxing and no longer fun. Ultimately, I lost my motivation to write.
All writers are worried their writing is terrible. It’s this fear that made them seek perfection in their work. Fear impedes us from achieving what we want. The only way to overcome fear, is to face it. But tackling it to the extreme like what I did is certain to ruin our motivation to write. Know that it’s good to aim for perfection, but there’s a limit and a right time to seek it.
The first draft of anything is shit.Ernest Hemingway
I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.Nora Roberts
Realizing that you are allowed to have terrible writing is comforting and liberating. Don’t let perfectionism and the fear of bad writing damper your motivation to write.
8. Reward Yourself And Have Fun
We should never forget to reward ourselves for our hard work. Appropriate reward will keep us motivated to write. The reward can be your favorite snack, coffee, or that brand new novel releasing next week. You can reward yourself each time you sit down to work on your novel or when you reach your target word count.
For instance, when I met my daily goal, I will reward myself with my favorite snack, and on days I exceeded my daily goal, I get to enjoy a delicious and juicy steak. Another way to reward yourself is to have fun. If you have a particular scene or chapter you’re dying to write, go ahead and write it first. Keep the excitement going.
Do note to ensure the rewards are proportional to the effort we put in. This requires discipline and honesty. Over rewarding ourselves will destroy our motivation to write instead of incentivize it. Keep the bigger reward for the bigger goal to stay driven.
Reward is a powerful motivator. Other than encouraging you to write, it can also help prevent burnout by acknowledging your accomplishments and hard work. You will discover that your motivation to write reinforced or even amplified over time.
Finding The Motivation To Write Your Novel
Writing a novel is not an easy task, but it can be extremely fulfilling and rewarding. Thousands have done it, there’s no reason you can’t do it. But should you ever lose the motivation to write, know that these 8 tips will help put you back on track.
Share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’ll love to hear your personal experience and views on this topic.