How To Stay Motivated As A Freelance Writer

I had a really strange few days this past week. I’ve taken on some new work, streamlined my current projects so I can take most weekends off and started to jot down ideas for the book I’ve been trying to write for a while.

I should have been ecstatic, but instead I found it particularly difficult to get - and stay - motivated.

I don’t know whether it was because of the fact I've been able  take more time off, which means I don’t have to be working constantly and can take a breather or whether it’s just because I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, but my output has taken a bit of a hit this week.

Fortunately, after being in this boat a few times before, I’ve now got a fool proof plan to boost my motivation and get my work output back up to what it should be.

  1. Take a break - drop your pens or keyboards and go out for the day. When you’re feeling uninspired and can’t seem to get motivated, the worst thing you can do is try to work through it as chances are you’ll end up taking a bit of a disliking to writing.

    I took a day off work, read a few chapters of the book I’m devouring at the minute, played an hour or so of computer games and watched a bit of TV.

    It was the first time in ages that I hadn’t felt guilty about not working, but it did me the world of good.

  2. Only work on projects you’re interested in - the vast majority of my work revolves around topics that I have an interest (to some degree) in, but I have a few pieces that I write because I know about the topic, rather than having an distinct interest in it.

    I have to be in a decent mood at the best of times to get these projects finished and so I had no chance of doing them this week.

    I made some notes and put some ideas together of what I could include in them and then put them on the back burner to focus first on the projects I enjoyed – it’s always easier to write about what you enjoy, as it seems to flow a whole lot better.

  3. Talk to other writers - when you’re motivation levels are low, one of the best remedies is to look at other writers for inspiration.

    I found last week I read and participated in more blog posts than I have in a long time and by the end of it, it gave me a bit of a kick up the ass, which was just what I needed.

  4. Work in short bursts - I had a few pieces of around 500 words I had to write this week and even just thinking about sitting down to write them was giving me a headache.

    So instead of thinking of it as a full 500 words, I broke it up into three sections of 165 words each. I’d put together the first 165 words and then check my e-mail. I’d come back and do another 165 words and then head back to some blogs to see if there were any new comments, before returning to finish the final 165 words.

    Yes, it took a while longer than normal, but it made the project a whole lot easier.

  5. Proof everything as you go – I’ve spoken to a few writers about this over the past few days and everyone has their own opinions and preferences on when and how they proofread their work.

    When you’re motivation is low, however, I always find it best to proof everything as you’re going along.

    If you’re only doing a short blog post or two, then it’s not a massive problem.  I wrote 12,500 words earlier in the week, though and decided I’d proof read it at the end.

    That was arguably the worst decision I’d made in a long time – by the time I’d got half way in I was having to re-read what I was supposed to be proofing as I found I was skimming over it far too quickly, just so I could get it finished.

For me, these five points work perfectly.  My motivation came back after a day or two, I felt inspired again and things were generally great.

But, whilst these work for me, they might not work for everyone - how do you cope with a lack of motivation as a freelance writer?

Profile image for Dan Smith
Dan is a freelance writer and small business consultant. Dividing his time between writing for both individual clients and national corporations and giving a helping hand to many small startup companies, he has several years experience in both areas, as well as a strong background in Search Engine Optimisation.

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5 thoughts on “How To Stay Motivated As A Freelance Writer”

  1. Swear to you, I was just skimming this article and I saw this: Take a break – drop your pants I reread it and got your point, but from now on when I feel unmotivated, I’m definitely going to drop trou.

    Anyway, I think we all go through these phases–even on personal projects that we are excited about. Your tips are great, and one of the best thing to do is not to get freaked out about your lack of motivation and start wondering if it’s permanent–it isn’t.

    • Dropping your pants should be the warm up section to the five points. It makes you feel instantly better.

      Or so I’ve heard.

      To be honest Yo, this was the first time where I actually started to – not get freaked out – but a little concerned about the lack of motivation. Usually it lasts for an hour or so but this was a day or two.

      Looking back over the past few months, though, I think it’s kind of just an accumulation of what’s happened since January.

      Work has been intense – so much more than I could have ever expected; we’ve had a close relative pass away, which although expected hit everyone pretty hard and we spent more time with some relatives we don’t see much than we have done in a long time, making us realise how important family and friends are.

      I’m kind of detracting for the point now, but I think it all just came to a peak and my mind started wandering, more so than it ever has done before.

      But, like you said, I think it’s something everyone goes through now and again and it’s just a matter of taking your time until your motivation returns.

    • My problem with using AFW as a break, Cathy (got it right this time ;)) is that it always ends up taking up so much of my time – I come to check out the latest post and end up spending a good half hour here commenting and re-reading older posts.

      Not a bad thing, though. Made even better without the pants!


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