Let’s face it: sometimes, the motivation to accomplish anything is simply non existent. You yearn to collapse onto your couch, binge Netflix, and eat an entire carton of ice cream while ignoring your burdens, though they may be suffocating you under their weight. I’ve been there, done that, and to be honest, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But, at some point, it becomes unhealthy; you begin ignoring your responsibilities, your passions, and everything you care about in search of an easier option.
When it comes to writing, there is no ‘one cure fits all’ solution. Speaking from experience, there are days when a steady flow of inspiration streams into my mind and onto the page in front of me, and then there are days when I stare at my laptop in a blind confusion, too unfocused and unmotivated to even try to get started. This is normal for a writer, but be careful: the longer you procrastinate and abstain from your hobby, the easier it becomes to slip away entirely.
The trick is to know when to take breaks, and to know how long those breaks will be. For example, when I was in tenth grade, I decided to ambitiously pursue Camp NaNoWriMo in April (for those of you who are unaware of this organization, I highly recommend checking them out; NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a program that encourages writers all over the world to write their own book, which is noted as 50,000 words or more. Regular NaNo is in November, while Camp NaNo is in April and July). Because of my precious success in November’s competition, I thought to myself: well, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to do it again. And I’ve been dying to finish this latest story!
Unfortunately, my plan went awry, though I managed to get to 30,000 words in before I stepped away from the project. I had all the motivation in the world to finish, but life got in the way; school was until 2:30, and then I had track practice until 5:30, and then I usually completed AP homework until late at night. The only time I had to sneak my writing in was in the morning, so I would rise at 4 AM to crank out one or two thousand words. And, as you’ve probably guessed, I ended up burning out less than halfway through the month. After that, I wasn’t motivated to write again until July.
Had I recognized the business of my schedule ahead of time, I would have realized that it wasn’t possible for me to set this goal for myself. In fact, because Camp permits each writer to set their own personal objective, whether that’s 2 chapters or 50, I could have chosen a lower word count. But my self motivation urged me forward, resulting in a three month, unplanned hiatus from my passion.
In other words, the most important aspect of being self motivated is recognizing when you need to take a break. If you’re feeling anxious about coming back to your project, or stressed about meeting your own personal goal, understand that it’s perfectly alright to unwind and relax for a while. That will make for a better story in the long run, too.
Other tactics include:
-rewarding yourself when you’ve met a daily word count, written a new chapter, or accomplished what you set out to finish (this can be with a little bit of online shopping — go buy yourself some pretty new journals — or you can purchase your favorite candies from grocery stores)
-having a friend, family member, or fellow writer hold you accountable (through texting or emailing; they can even send inspirational quotes and reminders for you)
-keeping your end goal in mind (you’ll finish when you finish; unless you’re dealing with a professional deadline, there’s no need to rush. Take things slow; pace yourself)
-Listening to podcasts!
What suggestions do you have for self-motivation, even if they aren’t related to writing? Comment your own advice below!