The Secret To Being Motivated to Write (and Finish) Your Book
I took a poll over on Instagram asking you guys what your number one goal for the year is, and the winning vote by a landslide was to either start, or both start and finish, a novel. Didn't see that coming at all...
If you've been following me for a while, then you know I talk a lot about motivation and how it's unreliable and fleeting. Thus, it's a much better idea to focus on building habits, as opposed to exclusively relying on motivation. But that doesn't mean motivation is useless. Let's be real, it's a lot easier to write when you're motivated.
Again, I don’t suggest you rely exclusively on motivation; habit will always be your best bet. But motivation makes the process quicker, easier, and a lot more fun, so let's find different ways to harness it for future use.
On to my top 10 tips for wrangling up your motivation so you can finish your book!
This video is sponsored by Skillshare. As always, all opinions are my own.
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Number 1: Be Self-Indulgent
I'm not telling you to write self-insert erotic fanfic, but I am telling you to write something you really, really love. Something you wish you could find in a bookstore. Writing is absolutely a business, but it's also artistry and passion. Some people forget about that last bit, which causes them to write a genre or concept that's really, really popular, even if it's not exactly what they're in to.
Writing is absolutely a business, but it's also artistry and passion.
Here's a harsh reality: a vast majority of writers don't make that much money off their work. So if you're gonna bust your ass writing a novel that may or may not sell, you might as well take the risk on something you love. A story that you have fun creating! Not only will this absolutely increase your motivation, it'll also increase your odds of the book selling, because if you're excited about the story, chances are there's an audience for it somewhere.
Number 2: Find Your YES Points
Again, writing is a business. You still gotta sell this book. Let's not get so self-indulgent that we create something completely plotless and 100% wish fulfillment. In order to write something that appeals to ourselves as well as others, we gotta think about our YES points.
YES points are what I like to call pieces of media that get you amped. This can be anything from genres, to tropes, to entire concepts or themes. For example, my YES points are:
Healthy, swoon-worthy romance. YES!
Bloodthirsty violence or themes of darkness and death. YES!
A colorful world with colorful fashion. YES!
Magic that isn't too complex or overpowering of the character arcs. YES!
Good old fashioned stories of heroism with character centric storylines. YES!
These are elements of fiction that get me hyped and combining them would create a story that is perfectly suited for me, which is exactly what I did with The Savior’s Series! Find your YES points and you will have a great concept for a story you are excited to write.
Number 3: Channel Your Inspiration
We all grab inspiration from different places. Some people feel inspired when they read or when they watch movies. Others feel inspired by nature. Some people take inspiration from people watching.
Pay attention to the activities that make your imagination fire off. For me, it's listening to music. So if I want to get some writing done but I'm not exactly feeling inspired, I'll take an hour or so to close my eyes and listen to my writing playlists. This activity alone elicits so many story ideas, either for my work in progress or future books. And once my imagination is activated, you know what usually follows suit? That's right! Motivation!
Number 4: Strike While the Iron’s Hot
Let me make one thing clear: do not under any circumstances only write when you're feeling motivated. You'll never finish a book that way. However, if you do feel motivated at random, by all means get to work!
So many writers tell me, “I really want to write right now, but I'm supposed to be cleaning the shower.” Can’t the shower wait for like an hour? We don't always get this rush of motivation, so when it's here, why not try to capitalize on it? I know sometimes it's not possible, but I am the queen of reorganizing my schedule. If a window opens up for me to crank out some words, I'm gonna find a way to make it work!
Number 5: Mini Goals
The quickest way to squash your motivation is to overwhelm yourself. I've lost track of the number of writers I've known who have bailed on a manuscript because the thought of completing a full length novel was just way too daunting. There's a very easy solution to this: stop seeing it as writing a book. You're not writing a manuscript, you're writing a chapter, or an act, or hell, 10 pages!
Break up your goal into smaller, more achievable parts where the finish line is clear in sight, because being able to see the finish line is super motivating! When you tell yourself, “I have to write a 300 page book,” when you're on page 1, that's 299 more pages to write. Terrifying! But if you tell yourself, “I have to write a chapter,” you've only got about 10 pages left. That's no big deal! You can absolutely achieve that!
Number 6: Take Care of Yourself
Another surefire way to destroy your motivation is to work yourself into the ground. Trust me, I know this from experience. Shitty mental health can wreak havoc on your motivation. This is why so many people refute the lie that torment and depression fuel artistry; it actually does the opposite.
If you feel like your motivation has been dead and buried for months, you're probably exhausted. Motivation? Who's that? We don't know her!
The key is to take care of yourself. And no, I'm not talking about face masks and bubble baths. I mean make sure you're getting enough sleep, spend some time relaxing, make sure you're eating regularly. Give your body the care and attention it's been lacking! Find some way to de-stress. And if you need to talk to a mental health professional, go for it! You deserve to feel good! Sometimes the key to getting back to work is to stop working, at least for a day or two.
Number 7: Rewards
If you're writing a scene that is giving you a ton of grief and no amount of music or goal setting is motivating you to finish it, then it's time to resort to some good old fashioned bribery.
“If I finish writing this fuckhole of a scene, I get to order a pizza!”
I don't know about you, but that would motivate me! It sounds like such a cop out, but that's because it is a cop out. No matter how much you love and adore your manuscript, there are going to be parts of the writing process that make you want to jump out a window. For those moments, you gotta dangle the carrot. Promise yourself tacos, the newest Brad Mondo video, a bath bomb, or hell, porn. I don't care. Do you!
Number 8: Up the Pressure
Some folks work amazing under pressure, and if you're one of those people, have I got a plan for you: crank up the heat! An easy way to up the pressure is to make your goals public. I personally post my goals every three months on social media. That way if I achieve them or if I fail, everyone knows. This means I can either be really proud, or really embarrassed. Like I said, pressure doesn't work for everyone, but for some, public humiliation is a very effective motivator.
Number 9: Spite!
Spite may not be the most pleasant of traits, but goddamn is it a miraculous tool for motivation! As a writer or a creator of any kind, you are going to come into contact with people who do not believe in you. They're going to tell you that it's a stupid, worthless dream that will never amount to anything.
My seventh grade math teacher told me in front of the entire class that if I were to pursue writing as a career, I would end up, and I quote, as a “homeless failure.” Now I'm a successful author, and she’s… well, probably dead, but that's beside the point!
You can allow these assholes to drag you down, or you can get mad. So mad that you're determined to prove ‘em wrong.
“I will finish that book! I will succeed, and you can suck it!”
It's not wholesome or cute, but I'm not here to be either of those things. I'm here to be honest with you. For every dickhole who tells you you're going to be a failure, channel that anger, harvest it, and let it motivate the shit out of you!
Number 10: Perspective
Sometimes a lack of motivation comes from a lack of perspective.
“I don't feel like writing. I want to play video games or binge watch Netflix!”
You're totally welcome to do that, but one day you're gonna die.
Oh, I went there! Do you want to leave this world knowing that you watched a whole lot of TV, or do you want to leave this world knowing that you finished a novel that's available for the masses? You may die one day, but your words can live on forever.
I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but I've been in life or death situations, so mortality is always on my mind. And it is so motivating. When you accept your impermanence, it’ll a light a fire under your ass. Clock is ticking!
You may die one day, but your words can live on forever.
So that's all I've got for you today!
One day you're gonna be old, and the arthritis will make it really hard to type. You don't have all the time in the world. Accepting this fact can be a downer, or it can be something that motivates and fuels you to live a life of purpose.
How do you amp up your motivation? I wanna hear about it!
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