How Do You Motivate Yourself to Write?

Writing MotivationIt doesn't matter how experienced of a writer you are. You're bound to feel unmotivated every now and then. Sometimes you can plow through these periods. But at other times you'll need to find ways to get excited about your projects again.

I'm like any other writer in this regard. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes a lack of motivation is a result of being sick or exhausted because of other commitments. And sometimes I'm just not "feeling it." Those are the times when I can literally sit at my desk, staring at my computer screen for hours on end, and be lucky if I turn out a single paragraph.

As writers, we sometimes convince ourselves that it's not OK to step away -- that other things are just distractions or a way to procrastinate. But the way I see it is this: I'd rather spend a couple of hours doing something else and feel motivated to jump back into my writing than spend those hours staring at a screen with little-to-nothing to show for it.

Today I'd like to share some of the things I do when I need to set aside my writing and get myself back in the right frame of mind.

5 Ways I Motivate Myself to Write

Here are some of the things I do when I need to motivate myself to put my butt back in my chair and write.

1. Read a good book.

This can be a book in the genre I'm trying to work in at the time, or even a nonfiction book about writing, publishing, or business. Appreciating someone else's writing makes me want to get back to my own.

2. Listen to classical music or nature sounds.

I use the Relax Melodies app for most sounds (which I recently posted about here on the blog), and I pull up classical music playlists on Amazon Prime Music. Anything non-vocal and mellow works because it allows me to let my mind wander.

3. Watch a movie.

It might sound more like procrastination, but sometimes a movie puts me back in the mood to write. For example, when I'm working on a horror writing project, I'll watch something in that genre. Or if I need to motivate myself to write nonfiction, I'll choose a movie about a writer instead of something genre-specific.

4. Watch an episode or two of Murder, She Wrote on Netflix.

A little Jessica Fletcher goes a long way.

5. Visualize the end result.

Very little motivates me more than visualizing the end result of my work. For example, I might picture the manuscript I'm working on as a book in print. Or if you're a freelance writer who gets paid after a project is complete, you might visualize the check you'll receive once your work is finished.

How do you motivate yourself to write when it starts to feel like a struggle? Share your most effective tips in the comments.

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8 thoughts on “How Do You Motivate Yourself to Write?”

  1. Sometimes I just need forward momentum. If I’m not feeling it on the writing, then I’ll do other, less brain-intensive stuff, like invoicing or email follow ups. If I start checking other things off my to-do list that sometimes puts me back into the writing groove.
    I’ll also take a walk to clear out the cobwebs. My creative juices sometimes stop flowing when I’ve hit a mental roadblock. A good walk sometimes lets me overcome that.

    • Ah, the power of checking something off the to-do list! That’s definitely motivating. 🙂 And walks are a great way to clear your head. Anything away from the keyboard and outside can be a big help — walking, gardening, a dip in the pool. Whatever you have access to and enjoy doing.

  2. Love this list! (Murder She Wrote, YES!!)

    I’m with you on taking a break. Sometimes I tend to keeping pushing myself too hard until I’m on the verge of burnout, when really breaks and vacations make you more productive and motivated. I KNOW that, I just need to learn how to put it into practice for myself.

    If I’m on a tight deadline and NEED to make myself write when I don’t feel like it, I find that some fast-paced music helps me bang out a first draft quickly. Then I can go back and edit it into something decent 🙂

    • LOL I got my MSW fix earlier today actually. It’s what inspired the post because I simply didn’t feel like writing about what I originally planned for today. 🙂

      I’ve been through the whole burnout thing. It’s why I cut my work week back to 4 days a week, and client project days to just 2-3 days per week. Even though I know how much more productive I am when I enjoy my downtime away from work, I still get sucked into extra hours from time to time. When I go to the keyboard I need to slap my hand and tell myself “no.” It’s tempting. There’s always more we can do — another blog post, another email check, another query, another social media update. I think sometimes we forget that what we do in our downtime isn’t all about “want.” If we thought about it as something we “need” instead, maybe it would easier. But like you said, even when you know it, it’s not always easy to put that into practice.

      I’m with you on deadlines. I’ll push through for client deadlines whether I’m supposed to be working or not. But thankfully those times are few and far between, because I try to knock things out well ahead of time to leave myself a bit of padding in my schedule in case I need it.

  3. Hello Jennifer,

    I think its It is important to maintain a fixed time when you would simply write and do nothing else. Maintaining a fixed time helps you to get into a habit of writing despite any kind of situation or mood. It helps in preparing your mind to concentrate on writing during that particular time of the day, even if you don’t feel like.

    And secondly, it is also important to understand the purpose of your writing. A clear purpose helps you handle the emotional waves which affect you sometimes.

    • Hi Worli. I’ve been at this business for a long time, so I do know the benefit of schedules. 🙂 That said, it’s also important to remember that schedules can be too rigid. It’s okay to take time away and re-assess. And frankly it’s something people should do more often — whether that means taking a vacation (even from your writing) or just taking a few hours off every now and then to recharge your creative energy. Even the best schedule isn’t a panacea for all writing woes. So stay open to other motivational tactics. While a schedule can force you to sit down and write, it’s not the same as renewing your passion for whatever project you’re working on. Why not aim for both? 🙂

  4. It’s good to hear from others that the motivation is just not there sometimes. I have this problem regularly. It’s funny though; I love to watch movies for motivation! They always put me in writing mode, and I’m really not even sure why. Music does tend to help too, but I don’t lean toward classical and nature. I prefer to listen to a little more adventurous music, or sometimes something that goes with the theme of whatever it is I’m writing. I like this post. It makes sense and I can relate.

    • Themed music can be a big help for me when I’m writing fiction. While I don’t do this for every project (especially short ones), having a soundtrack to the story can keep me motivated. Every time I listen to a certain song, I’m put into a scene in the book. I usually avoid popular commercial music and turn to more obscure indie music (often from local artists). It means I’m unlikely to hear that song anywhere else, so the association is exclusive. Plus, it’s an excuse to keep focusing on indie music which is another passion of mine (and on that note, I think your comment just inspired a post for this week or next). 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post Jessica. And thank you for sharing some of your own motivational techniques. 🙂


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