When I lived in London, I used to go to Hyde Park and do watercolor sketches. One day an older man walked up behind me and said, “Hmm, artist. My granddaughter is an artist. She’s six.” His tone wasn’t as judgmental as his words, but I still got the message. Grown ups don’t draw and paint. Grown ups work.
When people make their living doing what others do for hobbies, I think there is an extra pressure to be great or go find a real job. Storytelling is like that. But talk about your demotivation! Ugh. Add to that the idea that some days you don’t feel like rushing to the keyboard to write, and life can be truly challenging. So how do you motivate yourself when there is no Muse to rely on?
Here are some thoughts that help me:
- Try to always “be in the middle” – I find the rule of physics that states an object in motion is easier to keep in motion than starting something from a state of inactivity works for me. I try, therefore, to have small writing projects along with any current novel I’m working on all in motion at one time. That way, if I’m not feeling creative about one thing, I can work on something else. And guess what. Today, I’m finishing a blog post I started more than a month ago!
- Keep a list – I’ve always loved lists, and in writing, it’s no different. Character names, what goes on in the next chapter, publishers to submit queries to; they all work. Mostly, I think a list of 2, 3 or 5-minute projects is a good idea. Number pages in a journal, sharpen pencils, start a blog post or maybe write a thank-you note. These are all tasks that have to be done sometime. And the lists themselves are small tasks that have to be done. When I don’t feel like writing, a nice bullet list helps jump start my brain.
- Journal – often creativity for me is blocked by something bugging me, but I haven’t spent the time to figure it out and resolve it. A journal let’s you put words down that you may not even know are reaching into your subconscious.
- Develop curiosity – today, I went online to research, of all things, molasses. I was curious because my mom used to say things like, “Hurry up. You’re slower than molasses in January.” Mom’s not around any more, but the expression pops into my head every now and then. One day, I think I’ll write a blog post about molasses, because I found some interesting tid-bits on this subject.
- Brainstorm – each morning, before I work on this blog, I set a timer for five minutes and list out writing ideas. This can get the rusty creative gears going as well.
Another great source of motivation for writing comes from reading. One book I’d like to recommend on this subject is “Write Is A Verb,” by Bill O’Hanlon. As a psychotherapist, Bill really works on the motivations of writing and has some good exercises you can do to get or keep moving in your writing ambitions. Definitely worth checking out.
Here’s a quote from the book: “Everyone has five minutes in each day he could devote to this exercise, no matter how busy. Most people can write about 250 words in five minutes. That’s about one page of a double-spaced manuscript. Do that every day for a year and you’ll have a book. Doesn’t that seem workable?”
Thanks for spending time with me today. I feel more like writing now than ever.
Now it’s your turn. What do you do to force yourself to write when you don’t want to? What will you write today? Do you have a list of writing projects going?
Have an artful day.