SpinCycle Barn's burnt down... now I can see the moon.
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1. A million ways: talk to people who don’t know about your topic, talk to people who do know about your topic, read badly written stuff (so you can think how much better a job could be done), read well written stuff (to get inspired), take some time off, spend a little time learning something “unrelated” and then see how it connects to your topic, immerse yourself in someone else’s style, find someone’s unusual goal on 43things, explain to someone the problem you need to solve in the next bit of writing you’re going to do, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
2. When I was writing my book, I did not always feel motivated. I think having some ways to keep some forward momentum even when you’re not juiced is crucial to finishing a writing project. The main techniques I used: maintaining a list of what’s next on a huge whiteboard in my room, and continuing to write every day until Law & Order came on TV in the evening. That got me at least four hours of work each day even when I didn’t feel much like it. Momentum carried me through the bad days.
The article Incompletion: 15 Causes and Solutions contains a lot of hard-won experience with getting past various blocks.
First of all, I wasn’t always motivated while writing my book. And the only way i could overcome that was by accepting that i wasn’t motivated, and writing anyway. I have three whole pages in my journal filled of me just writing over and over that i wasn’t going to give up. It’s silly, but that was a little therapeutic.
Also, I wrote my novel during National Novel Writing Month. Barreling through it like that helped a lot, because it was 100% clear that it wasn’t supposed to be that great. it was just a rough draft. A very rough draft. I think a lot of writer’s block comes from a fear of wasting all your time writing this book that’s total crap. But it’s okay. All books are crap at first- just remember that.
Other than that, the only advice I can give is to write about something exciting to you. I wrote about time-traveling teenagers in a pink 1950’s Cadillac. Sure, it was ridiculous. but if I had written about middle-aged women who started a feminist book club, I never would have finished that book. Write more for you than for the reader. Then after you finish, you can edit with other people in mind.
The particular material that I write is inspirational, and is geared to help others find their purpose in life, to explore their purpose, to be able to better deal with situations, etc. Because I have such a passion for helping others, and it is a tremendous feeling to know that something I said has made a difference in someone’s life, it was very easy for me to maintain my focus.
With my first two books, I would get up in the morning and go right to my computer and start writing. I would work until very late at night. I think one of the biggest motivators was seeing how much I had accomplished, as well as picturing in my mind the final result of a finished book.
In addition, I honestly believe that whatever you write about has to be something you are passionate about. Also, be sure that you are writing from your heart, and because it is something you are drawn to do. I have found that anything I do that I do not have my heart in is not enjoyable, and often goes unfinished.
I hope this helps you!!!!
mejaka is on the preferred substitute list--for Project. Weird.
BIC: Butt in chair. Often writer’s block can be overcome by writing, even if what you are writing is bad or nonsense. Most multi-published writers I’ve talked with will say the same thing – sit down in the chair and write. Several of them have said that if they have nothing to write, they always have a way to begin – by rewriting the last scene from memory, by doing a character sketch, by writing someone they know into the next scene. One keeps a huge jar of random objects on her desk and pulls one out if she stalls and starts typing a description of the object. Another will simply type whatever thoughts pass through her mind (I don’t know what to write, I’m bored, I wonder what Jerry is doing) until the plot starts filtering in.
Me, I’ve done NaNo twice and learned that I do really well under that kind of pressure. What I love about it is that little bits and pieces of my daily life end up in the manuscript. So if I get stuck any other time of the year, I start by describing someplace I know or something I’ve recently seen or done, using the same POV as my current WIP, until I’ve got the flow going. It works well for me.
I tend to think that it’s not so much a matter of whether or not you’re motivated to write but rather what kinds of fears and concerns are interfering with your ability to just get the words out on paper.
For some people, it’s fear of rejection or negative judgment about their work. What happens if what you write isn’t very good? What if people don’t like it? This is often based on the idea that your own self-worth is tied to the quality of what you produce.
Another common problem is not having faith in your material. Do you believe that what you’re trying to share is worthwhile? Is your story good? Is it fresh and interesting? Do you know that your advice is needed and will be well-received?
Any time that you face an issue in any part of your life that is blocked or feels difficult to get through, ask yourself what you’re afraid of, and then deal with that fear objectively.
For me, when I get a story idea, I do some sketching of characters and settings done, then I let it come to me. Often, I don’t share it until it’s done because I have a fear of other people influencing my work with their ideas. (If it’s such a great idea, why aren’t they writing it themselves?) That was my fear, and I overcame it by adjusting how I wrote and developed my work until it was done.
nitasweeney wants world peace and decaf coffee
Doing the first draft in November as part of NaNoWriMo helped. But after November, ya still gotta write! I trade work with another writer so I have a regular deadline. It helps to know she’s waiting for the next installment.
I’ve often experienced writer’s block, and sometimes reading about writing has helped. I like Hooked, by Les Edgerton. It’s about writing the beginning of a story and the importance of setting up a surface problem and a story-worthy problem. And Susan Shapiro’s Only as Good as Your Word is helpful too. She has a fun way of conveying her points (a plumber never gets plumber’s block, a page a day equals a book a year, etc.).
Mostly I try to remind myself that it’s the writing that makes me a writer — not the publishing, but the practice of writing. Not everything I write can be publishable, so it helps take some pressure off by setting modest goals. One of the things that has helped: setting the goal of writing ten minutes at a time. Usually I can write longer than that, but if I’m struggling on a particular day, I can still feel like I accomplished something.
You have to remember that you have something to say that only you can say, and that you don’t have all the time in the world in which to say it.
theempire20 been quite awhile...
motivation… thats funny because i never really feel motivated when i write, sometimes i get awful writers block and cant write for weeks or months, then i might see something on tv, or in life, and it gets me back on my shit. i dont like to ever rush myself to finish a novel, and i always break my rule of not reading the work before the book is finished…
its really my love of words that keeps me going. i dont really care about getting published as much some people might, because when you write only to appeal to others, then you arent really being yourself and showing your talent, i refuse to write to impress others, i write because it lets stress out, and i love words..
but i havent even answered the question…. my motivation…. doesnt exist.. sometimes i just get really stuck and have to reread old old old work to see if i can add to it, but i never stop thinking about stories, everything you do, say, see, listen to and think can become a story
wwwLookman Producing, writing books and screenplays and TV animation
You are motivated if you are living the story, otherwise start something else. Write what you know about and feel. Editing, accepting criticism and refinement of a book is harder than writing. Getting published needs nerves of steel and selling the product can be dispiriting. There is a sea of authors out there, some good and many awful in the eyes of commissioning editors.
Great authors are a special kind of person. Perhaps not the kind of person most people want to be.
Do not give up – practice improves your skills. It is a skilled trade.
I think it’s always good to start with the reason “why” – if that’s compelling and exciting enough then staying motivated while writing is easy. I’d also recommend doing it quickly. In my book The Wealthy Author I advocate the C.R.I. system which ensures you avoid getting blocked up. You should also check out Tom Evans’ book “Blocks” which will be available in print from www.publishingacademy.com in October.
You just have to make writing a routine. Aim to write a regular number of words every day and no matter what happens, make sure you write those words. Don’t worry too much about writing the next great sentence, if you do that, you’ll write nothing. Just be true to your story and characters and write what feels right. There will be days when you can’t be bothered or days when its like pulling teeth but you just need to work through them.
Sometimes when I get really stuck and can’t write, it’s because something is wrong with one of the characters or there’s a flaw with the plot. It really sucks when that happens because it means I need to go back and delete and restructure something before I can get on and write forwards.
If you need to warm up, type out something else, one person I know types the lyrics of American Pie until she gets bored and starts working on her writing.
Congratulations on beginning your novel and good luck! Fall in love with your characters and you should have no problems writing your book. :-)
Pete Lihou is writing book number 4!
My advice is don’t worry about it. This is something you will hopefully enjoy doing and that will be motivation enough to keep you going.
If it really isn’t enough, then either writing isn’t for you or this particular book isn’t.
I compare writing to reading a good book and if you have to force yourself to do it, something is wrong.
On the other hand, you don’t need to worry where the motivation will come from when you can’t put down that great book you’re reading – sometimes it pays not to over analyse!
Ask yourself: how will me writing this book benefit someone else?
Then, imagine that person reading that book for the first time and what kind of effect that will have on them. Imagine how it will inspire them or education them or fulfill them or entertain them.
Be as clear as possible in your visualization. What does that person look like? Where are they reading your book?
Making the finished outcome real and the way it will influence others real was the best way for me to keep going when I just didn’t feel like it.
Another thing you can do is hire a coach who can help you stay focused and accountable. I always accomplish more and feel more motivated when I work with my coach.
Best of luck!!!
Camille McConnell, Life & Business Coach
Author of Stop Overeating Today!
I too wrote my book (but not my first major writing endeavor) during National Novel Writing Month, and I loved the companionship. Get a writing buddy!
I also recommend setting small goals for yourself (“500 words more before I eat lunch, 15 pages today, etc) and thinking about the really cool parts that you just can’t WAIT to write. In fact, if you’re really getting stuck, write those good parts first! Then write your way up to them when your writing energy is higher.
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