A lot of people tell me that they’ve always wanted to write a novel.
But, they explain, when it comes down to actually writing — actually putting fingers to keyboard — life gets in the way.
And I understand. A job definitely gets in the way. Family, friends, and the laundry can distract. There’s also the mail. And the latest HBO original series. Pretty soon, there’s no time left for writing.
So, how does one do it?
That is, write with a full-time job, a family, and a life?
It all comes down to motivation.
How badly do you want it? And how willing are you to put aside other priorities to get it?
Here are my Top Ten Ways to Fuel Motivation while Writing:
- Find a story you love and want to write about
This might sound obvious. Of course you are going to love the story you write about! Until, that is, you don’t love it, and it isn’t working. So, make sure you love Minnesota, or the Civil War, or the year 2050, or the character you’re going to spend 85,000 words with. It’s an investment!
- Invest in an outline – even a brief one
Speaking of investments, plot is an investment. Preparation for success, if you will. But, if you aren’t a plotter, or someone who outlines even minimally, this might sound silly. But, think about this. An outline is like a map. Even a quick glance shows you where you need to go. Even the most skilled navigators need that!
So, Train your brain to turn on at a certain time.
Set your clock, get up a 6 a.m., start writing before you click on the Internet, log on to social media, or turn on the television. If you follow that routine five of seven days, your creative brain will show up with you, ready to work!
- Put it on your calendar
It can be helpful to actually log the time on your calendar. Use a Google calendar, a wall calendar, or write your schedule on the back of your hand. Block out time for writing. Time for editing. Actually making those “appointments” will give you more incentive to do it!
- Give yourself a deadline
Set a deadline. And once you’ve committed, stick with it. Starting with the goal, work backwards and figure out everything that needs to be accomplished before then. Divide it by the number of days, and you have your (much-smaller) and (much-more) manageable task list.
- Crank back the TV and social media a notch
When you are working on deadline, or any big project, give up some or all of the digital entertainment. TV is a distraction, and it’s likely you are only half-listening anyway. Same with gaming. Without all of the noise and lights, your body and brain can concentrate.
- Tell someone
Tell someone. It will reinforce your commitment and help you stick to a goal.
- Tell more people
Tell two or three more people. Ask them to be accountable. (see number 7).
Feeling like you’ve hit a wall? You’re not alone.
Talk it through with someone–a teacher, a friend, another writer. Reach out for those solutions and don’t feel as if you have to tackle all of the issues yourself. Sometimes, the solution is right within your grasp. That’s the beauty of collaboration!
This key to writing, and probably one of the most important of the many steps in the process, is just to get started.
The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.
And above all, don’t give up!