My youth writing group (which I don’t foresee lasting much past this month as one of the three members leaves for college this week) has our second meeting coming up. Last time I asked them what they wanted to get from the group. I have been in two writing groups and both have been different. I absolutely love my current group but my first group had a lot of new writers and helped me learn about different aspects of writing.
We made a list of things they wanted to get our of it or to learn – such as dialogue, character development, and motivation.
Motivation is what I want to focus on this week. I am no expert on motivation. I’ve gone months barely touching a story. Either I don’t know how to end it or where to go from where I am or I’m just tired and let myself get easily distracted.
This is what I have come up with so far.
First – Why do you write? I think it’s important here to know why you write. I would hope that every writer writes because they love to do so. They would be an excellent foundation. I write for love and therapy – expressing myself through my characters.
Now my list of things I’ve done to help motivate me:
- Set a goal. I love goals. Set an overall goal like, “I want to write a novel” or “I want to write a short story for a literary magazine. Then set smaller goals such as, “I want to write 1,000 words a day.”
- Set a specific time to write. I find I do best when I have a set time. I am flexible of course because life happens, but try hard to stick to the time you set. I have a daily goal to write for an hour a day – I haven’t gotten to the part where I can say, “From 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. I will write.”
- MUSIC! I love music. For each story I work on, I create a playlist. The last few years I have created two for each story. One with instrumental music and the other with lyrical songs. The songs I choose reflect the mood of the story and characters throughout the novel. I have found more recently that instrumental music helps me concentrate better, but I still use the others to help me set me in the right emotional state of a character for a scene.
- Spend time with your characters. I take time to reflect on my story and the characters. I go for a walk, listening to one of my playlists, and I think of the characters. “What will they do next?” or “How would they react to this situation.” “How do they feel toward this other character?”
- Create deadlines. I work better with deadlines. When my adult writing group wanted the rest of my story, I found myself having to finish it! Granted – I’m now working on massive revisions, but that’s better than the months I held off getting to the end because I couldn’t think where to go.
- Join a writing group or take a class. Joining a group that meets monthly was the best thing I ever did for my writing. I get monthly feedback and I feel that pressure to have something to submit. Both a writing group and a class will help you develop your craft and inspire you with more ideas for your current story or maybe even spark something for a new one.
- Remember – it doesn’t have to be perfect. Like I said in #5, my story has need of massive revisions. If I focused on getting everything perfect I wouldn’t have time to write the rest of the story. Sometimes you’ve just got to get the story out of your head, then you rewrite again and again until you get it where you want it.
The following list consist of things I read on the internet that I haven’t tried – but I’m interested in doing them:
- Reward yourself. Reaching your writing goal is rewarding in and of itself but sometimes it’s not the same as eating a cookie or a bowl of ice cream. I saw this suggestion on several different blogs so it must be working for people. It has to be something you want, that you can have right after you finish writing but it also has to be something you wouldn’t do otherwise. So for me, eating a cookie or ice cream are out of the picture until I can learn some self discipline and stop eating those whenever I feel like it. I’ll have to think hard about what my reward would be.
- Accountability. One article mentioned how a lot of writers will hold themselves accountable on social media. In the morning, tweet (or Facebook status or whatever you prefer) what you plan to do that day. i.e. Today I will rewrite chapter two and work on a submission for the LeapBooks blog.” Then tweet updates on how you’re doing. “Finished chapter two revisions!” Another thing suggested, tweet your word count for the day. “Wrote 3,000 words today!” I plan on trying this one out.
Do you write? How do you motivate yourself?