Improving Motivation and Productivity: Tips for Writers
Let’s be real: Writing is hard! Although you want to do it (after all, those words won’t write themselves), it can be a struggle. Even as you daydream of becoming a famous author, bringing the fantastic worlds in your mind to life, and sharing your creations with a loyal fan base, it can be a challenge to drum up the motivation to start putting those words on the page.
If you find yourself wondering why you’re never motivated to write, here’s a secret: It’s not usually a lack of motivation. The bigger obstacle is building habits and learning what works for you in order to turn motivation into action.
Read on to learn how you can make writing a part of your routine so you can get that book finished and onto bookshelves! Be sure to check out our services for authors for more help with your manuscript.
When should you write?
Different people work best during different times, so you need to figure out when you’re most productive. Is there a time when you feel most alert or most creative? That’s when you should carve out time to write. Your perfect time may be in the morning after a shower, when you feel fresh and ready to start the day. It could be right after lunch, when you’re more awake after a sluggish morning. Perhaps it’s later in the evening, when you can forget the rest of the day and get the creative juices flowing. You may have other responsibilities and commitments preventing you from writing at certain times, but do what you can to rearrange your routine for maximum writing productivity.
Equally as important as the time of day—but more often forgotten—is the day of the week. You may feel more creative on weekends, when the work week is over and you can concentrate fully on writing. Maybe you’re more productive on Mondays and feel motivated by the start of a new week. In general, scheduling time to write every day is ideal, but you may want to allocate more time to days with more potential for a productivity boost.
Even the time of year can play a part in how well you write. Perhaps you feel energized by the long, bright days of summer or prefer the fall and winter, when you can cozy up and hunker down to write. Maybe you feel rejuvenated and awake with new ideas in the spring. While you should try to carve out writing time more regularly than a single season, knowing if there is a time of year when you’re most productive means you can schedule a little extra writing during those months. You can’t speed up the changing of the seasons, though, so do what you can to make your writing environment more comfortable during the other months.
Where should you write?
Where you write is a special place. It’s somewhere conducive to your productivity, focus, and creativity. Maybe you prefer to be at home, where you’re comfortable and away from prying eyes, or maybe you need to separate your writing life from your home life. Perhaps you need fewer distractions or more isolation to get the creative juices flowing and would rather visit a quiet cabin or the local library. It could be that you feel inspired and energized around people or like the background noise of a public space and would prefer to head out to a cafe or a park.
Setting up your environment for writing success isn’t just about the location—it’s also about how it’s organized. Many writers benefit from shutting out distractions, which can include turning off the Wi-Fi and leaving your phone in another room. Some authors also like to listen to their favorite music as they write.
If you’re not sure which sounds best, experiment with a few different writing spaces and see what feels right for you. Figure out where you can get deeply sucked into your writing and pump out the pages. Changing your environment can make a huge difference.
What are your goals?
Once you’ve figured out the when and where, you might need the extra nudge that setting goals can provide. Is your goal to write a book this year? To write a short story every month? To share a personal experience with others? Whatever it is, write it down and display it where you write. If you prefer to write out of the house, put a Post-it note on your laptop or in your notebook. Having that visual reminder of what the endgame is will help you keep at it.
However, it’s important to make sure you set the right goals. A good one is realistic and specific—don’t aim to whip out 10,000 words a day or go with something as vague as “write a book.” Measurable goals are best, so try giving yourself a deadline to finish each chapter or a certain number of words you want to write each week. If you fail to meet your goals, evaluate whether it’s because you weren’t working as hard as you could have or because your expectations were too high. In the latter case, adjust your goals to make them more reasonable.
What if you can’t get started?
If you’ve got your writing routine and goals worked out and still can’t seem to get started, you’re not alone! Continuing is much easier than getting started. So, what do you do?
One thing you can do is break down the work into small increments. Instead of sitting down to draft full paragraphs, you can write in short fragments, outline some of your story, or jot down notes about your characters. Just because you’re not writing your book directly doesn’t mean you aren’t making important progress.
Another common technique to get started on your writing is free association. Sometimes writers get stuck because they want their sentences to feel polished from the get-go. With free association, you just write and don’t worry about whether the result is good or complete drivel. Once you get going, you’ll find the words starting to flow more easily. Don’t worry if it’s chaotic—it’s just the first draft. You’ll go back and polish everything in the second draft.
Lastly, you can skip writing certain scenes to avoid losing momentum. If you come to a spot where you feel stuck, simply insert a placeholder. This can be something like “A shocking discovery is made,” “An action scene happens to get the characters into the cellar,” or “The character says something revealing here.” With those notes in place, you can go back and flesh out those scenes later. There’s no rule that says you have to write your story in chronological order.
The moral of the story is this: Do what works best for you! Experiment a little to see when, where, and how you can write at your best.
When you get your story written, let us edit your manuscript and get your book ready for your readers.