A common question I get asked (and one that I’ve asked many times myself!) is how to get motivated to write a book. The answer isn’t the same for everyone, but I will say we all struggle with a lack of motivation.
There are tons of writing motivation quotes all over Pinterest and Instagram, so I won’t bore you with those. I will, however, give you some nuance.
What you need to motivate yourself is going to change throughout your life. You don’t always have the same energy levels, and depending on what else is happening around you, motivation may not be enough to get you writing.
It’s okay to step away from writing. It’s okay to not write for a while.
Sometimes you just need a break because everything else is crazy. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
And when you’ve done that, then we can chat about motivation. Okay?
How to Motivate a Writer
In general, writers need a few things to get motivated.
- A very pressing deadline.
- A metric fuck ton of caffeine.
- An adrenaline rush from the combo of the impending deadline, caffeine, and a bout of procrastination.
When it comes to how to motivate yourself to write a book, most writers take what they can get. And many of us motivate in not-so-healthy ways.
I blame bad habits we built in school for this.
These bad habits persist, though, because we all believe a persistent myth about motivation. We wait for motivation like it’s inspiration, like the muse will come down and grant us this sudden burst of energy to work.
But that’s not how it works.
Motivation in Creative Writing Does Not Mean Passion
When you have motivation to work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re passionate about what you’re working on. Motivation does not equal passion.
Motivation is the ability to sit down and get some work done. Passion is the fiery burst of creativity that makes you lose time as you write for hours on end, forgetting about the rest of the world around you.
If you want passion, it’s probably not going to strike you any time soon. Those moments happen occasionally, but it’s never the norm for a writer.
And for what it’s worth, knowing how to get motivated to write isn’t going to take you as far as a writing habit will. So, while I’ll continue talking about motivation in this post, know that building a writing habit will serve you more than motivation ever could.
How to Get Motivated to Write a Book
If you want to get some writing done but feel like you don’t have any motivation to do the work, here are some things you can try. And again, I can’t stress this enough: Motivation is not passion. And motivation doesn’t always show up. Sometimes, you need to make yourself stick to a writing routine until your brain learns it by rote.
001: Find your daily writing motivation.
I always start with daily habits when it comes to motivation. I’m not always in the writing mood, so I have to get myself there as quickly and easily as possible.
I have this post on how to set the novel writing mood if you need some tips for setting the mood for your next writing session. Start with burning a scented candle and brewing yourself a cup of tea.
Then sit at your computer and let yourself write until you’re warmed up. That should mostly do the trick.
002: Make space for writing.
If you don’t have time in your day, you’re not going to write. And furthermore, if you don’t make time in your day early enough, you definitely won’t be writing.
Make sure you have a writing session planned for the time of day when you have the most energy. And if you can’t make that work with your schedule, make sure you’re giving yourself enough space in other parts of your day for writing.
003: Know that you won’t always be in the mood.
Writing isn’t always fun. Sure, it’s nice to be able to do it, but sometimes, you realize you’ve plotted yourself into a corner and you don’t want to do it anymore.
That always sucks.
I have this post on how to stay motivated while writing a book when you’re in the middle of something that seems to be getting away from you.
And for what it’s worth, sometimes the motivation is gone because your subconscious mind knows that you need to cut and run. It always sucks to abandon a project, but sometimes, you have to.
004: Eliminate distractions.
I am never motivated when I can hear the siren song of Netflix or see my phone screen light up with a new text message.
Cutting out distractions is hard to do simply because we live in a world full of digital distractions. But avoiding them for a short period of time is always possible.
Make use of the focus options on your cell phone. Download Self-Control for your Mac. Do what you need to do to block stuff while you get work done.
005: Celebrate shitty first drafts.
If you know how to write a discovery draft then you know that it’s a lot of making your way in the dark and taking imperfect action.
It’s hard to enjoy what you’ve written for a first draft. But you must! Celebrate the work you’ve done. That helps you stay motivated and enables you to enjoy the process. Otherwise, all your writing work seems to be never ending and there is no joy.
And you definitely need some joy to replenish your motivation stores.
Motivation Fails. Habits Are Forever.
Building habits and sticking to them will do more for you than seeking motivation. I know that’s a tough pill to swallow, and it probably feels like it isn’t possible to build habits sometimes.
Just make sure you start small. Sit down to write for 20 minutes a day at first. When that feels good, add more time. You are your own worst enemy when it comes to writing. And you can kill that habit and build a better one in its place too.