Writing Habits and Motivation

Hi all,

I thought I would talk a wee bit about writing motivation today. I’m luckily in a good writing flow at the moment. It’s a wonderful feeling when it’s flowing well, but let’s face it that doesn’t happen all the time. Even if I could stay inspired, then logistically it would be hard to stay in this mind-set. At the moment, friends are being neglected, parents aren’t being called (sorry, Mum!), my long-suffering other half is being shot death stares when he comes to say hi, because he’s interrupting the flow of the action scene. Realistically, until I reach the stage where I don’t have to do the day job as well, then I’m not going to be able to give this much attention to the writing all the time without the rest of my life suffering. I know it will die down soon though and things will slow back to a more general routine. (In other words me getting stressed about how to juggle things and my muse refusing to answer at the set times I schedule in for her!)

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Look familiar? So, what can you do to keep up momentum and motivation? Having support can be a big part of it, from both your family and friends, as well as hopefully being able to talk to other writers. It’s not an office job and it can be quite a lonely profession. It’s something that makes me extremely grateful for the internet and social media; it has allowed me to meet some wonderful and supportive writing friends from around the world. I may never get to meet some of these people ‘in person’ (though I do hope it happens someday!) but it is an invaluable source of comfort to me to know that other writers have the same issues and insecurities that I do, and more importantly, that they manage to get past them.

Everyone has a different way of writing and a different work schedule for it. Some people plan everything out in minute detail before they write a word of the actual story, while others have no more than a spark of an idea before they sent off on the journey. Some people write every day religiously, others do nothing for weeks, maybe even months, but can then produce words at a remarkable speed! No one way is right or wrong, it’s about finding what works for you.

If you are looking for a bit of a boost, there’s a lot of writing support ‘challenges’ out there at the moment. The most famous is probably NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month in November, but if you look you can find plenty of them running throughout the year. There’s a very good one that I enjoy which is 100k in 100days, the aim is to write 1000 words every day for a 100 days. It’s not too high a goal when you break it down and the idea is to build up the writing into a daily habit. I tend to break it down as 7000 words a week, same end goal but it gives me a bit of leeway to have a day or two off a week if needed. I’ve recently seen one called MilY – a million words in a year – which I don’t think I would quite dare to attempt at the moment. If I did actually keep up that momentum for a whole year, I know I wouldn’t also be able to fit any time in for editing, so even if I did manage to complete it then the idea of finishing the year with a million unedited words is a little daunting in itself!

Whether you find challenges work for you or not, I think the main point is to try and find something that motivates you to get writing – and more importantly keeps you writing through the frustrations, the plot snags, the times when your characters refuse to do what you want – or even talk to you at all. For some people writing every day isn’t feasible, we all have other commitments, demands on our time and obstacles that get in the way of our writing. This might be day jobs, kids, family, health issues, or simply our own issues of self-confidence. It’s not always easy – but then don’t they say that nothing worthwhile ever is?

Please feel free to share your own writing habits and motivations – I always love to hear what works for other people! I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favourite writers – and someone much more qualified to comment then me:

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.   Neil Gaiman

Happy writing x