A Writer’s Essential Steps to Staying Motivated
Writing doesn’t occur solely when inspiration strikes; it is often painstakingly crafted because of deadlines. Since ideas do not always come when needed, it is important to keep up one’s focus and motivation levels because these are some of the keys professional writers need in their toolkit. Staying focused and motivated is an increasingly hard battle to win, what with the ever-growing amount of gadgetry and software programs purposefully created for distracting people. Additionally, writing is a solitary profession that can cause people to become their own worst enemy when left too long with their thoughts. But, rest assured, there are many methods to creating effective writing habits.
Bringing the Inner Self Out
Before beginning to write or assemble ideas, writers should look inside themselves and question what it is that is making them feel unmotivated. One of the common reasons is the fear of not being a good writer. To deal with a lack of self-esteem, question what makes a writer ‘good’. Anyone can learn how to write well and use the many boring grammar and syntax rules, but the fundamental aspect of a writer is how they write. A good writer has an underlying passion that is able to make their audience feel their writing.
Another general reason for becoming discouraged when writing is when one’s work is judged by others. There is constructive criticism and there is destructive criticism. Constructive criticism is given to improve one’s writing; destructive criticism is a mixture of insults and jealously that aims to kill good writing. Realizing the difference and maintaining confidence in one’s writing capabilities will help block the effects of destructive criticism. It is because of destructive criticism that writers need support, and what better place to find it than in a circle of writers. They are found on LinkedIn, forums, writing-themed blogs and in writing associations.
People who feel as though they are not good enough to be a writer should compare their work to that of other writers on the same level. Writers who are trying to publish their first novel should not compare their work to writers who have several books already published. In this case, mentoring could be one option to getting a writer motivated and writing. One can ask an established writer for counseling or even aid them in their work.
If a writer is not feeling motivated because they are too busy with commitments, then the solution is simple: reduce the amount of activities one is partaking in, or reduce the amount of time set for each activity.
When grade school teachers assign a paper and supply the subject, the hardest part has already passed. However, when professors in universities assign a paper, students often panic and spend days trying to figure out the topic on which they want to write. For those times when a writer must bang out a story or article and hasn’t the slightest clue about what they want to write, the first place a writer can turn to these days is the internet. It is a wonderful place to find the perfect seed and help it grow.
The book series of writing exercises called Now Write! is a great permanent tool a writer should have in their kit. It’s helpful for getting started whether science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction or mystery is the genre in question. Each chapter is about a method an author uses to practice their writing and develop ideas. Additionally, each section focuses on a writing element, such as setting, plot and point of view. One fiction writing exercise is about how a character would react to something unexpected in their setting; this allows for a fuller development of the character.
Writers are observant and for those times when they are away from their desk, it is imperative that they keep a notepad on their person for when an interesting detail or plot development comes to them.
There are various ways to organize the details of a story when in the brainstorming stage, for instance, categorized lists or a tree outline. For people who need more of a visual display to get into their story, drawing characters and creating blueprints breathes life into the story. They help writers describe characters and settings realistically which readers will notice and appreciate.
When it comes to novels, it’s handy to create a story bible or book bible that has all the facts of a story’s characters, settings, plots and subplots, research and any potential ideas for the story’s development. A writer may think that they will remember their characters’ details since they are the ones who thought them up, but after a few revisions of the manuscript, the memories fade. A story or book bible also saves time later when copyediting and writing later novels in the series.
Doing the Writing
Environments have a heavy presence in the writing process. Before one sits down to write, it is important to detect potential distractions and to deal with them. If sound is the issue, ask the people in the environment (for instance, one’s home) to lower their voices or music. There are several alternatives to this, such as the use of ear plugs, the use of headphones and the playing of one’s own music, or a relocation. Writers must remember that when they are in an agitated state or in a tense environment, one cannot write or at the very least, one cannot write well. In this circumstance, it is best to leave the writing for another time.
If a writer can concentrate better with white noise, then cafés, food courts and parks are appropriate places to write, whereas if the writer needs absolute quiet, libraries are perfect places to which one should go.
It is not recommended to do writing with friends around if those friends are not needed to contribute to one’s writing because they will want to talk. Writing in this type of environment is like swimming against the tide, so scheduling one’s writing for another time will be a smart decision in the long run.
The only way writing is accomplished is by sitting down and doing it, which means do some writing each day or every two days. By setting a certain amount of time, the writer uses the BOC (butt-on-chair) or BIC (butt-in-chair) method. Both methods are the same; it’s only the letter in the acronym that differs. Additionally, if one manages to write beyond their established writing time, then it is best to not stop the flow. However, for the next day’s writing period, one should not write less simply because of the previous day’s overtime.
Using a rewards system to motivate one’s writing is not recommended. The object of this system is to write a certain amount of words or pages in a set amount of time, enjoy the reward and repeat the process. However, the object of the system is soon changed from writing to simply having the reward because one’s mind becomes distracted with the reward’s existence.
Remember that everyone is different so customizing a method for writing is essential. Some people are too tired after their day job to do any writing therefore, they would be productive if they scheduled a writing period in the morning or during their lunch break. Figuring out one’s best time for thinking clearly is key to advancing in the writing process.
Music and films are other personal choices. While the sound of nature or the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop may appeal to some, others need music or silence to focus on their writing. When the ideas in one’s head dry up, writers should take this opportunity to experience someone else’s work which may lead to new ideas for one’s stories. Films about writers that can refuel one’s writing passion are Midnight in Paris, Finding Forrester and the 2013 version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
There is a debate on whether writers should have a direction for their story prior to beginning their writing. Some believe that when one does not know their story’s direction beforehand, then the story will never get finished, but that isn’t necessarily true. There are many factors that can stop a story from being completed, such as a lack of motivation in the writer. Therefore, whether a writer has a direction or not should not matter. As long as the writer writes and grows their ideas, they’ll be alright.
Editing has become a little easier to do with the existence of the internet. One no longer has to go out and buy a dictionary or grammar book to know how to spell and how to punctuate. But for the professional writer, it’s a good investment to have these books on one’s shelf. The internet is full of different opinions, leaving one wondering if the answer they find is the best or right one. Books, however, offer a concrete answer, such as the English Simplified series by Blanche Ellsworth and John A. Higgins. It provides comprehensible grammar rules, source citations, manuscript writing tips and much more.
When using the BOC/BIC method, it can happen that nothing comes to mind during a scheduled writing period. Should this happen, it is best for a writer to turn to editing or researching. That way, the work will still have progressed despite the writer not having written anything new.
Returning to edit one’s work after a day or two ensures that the writer will be able to look at it with fresh eyes and catch missed errors. One can also have another person or several persons look it over; although, this is a tricky process. Edits suggested by others may not be good for one’s work. It all depends on the genre or the voice used in the story. That is why it is important to have people writing in the same genre to edit and critique one’s work.
“Make Good Art”
Good writing takes time and a lot of effort, but it shouldn’t be just about the struggle. Writers need to stop and enjoy their work. The books in shops and libraries are just the end product of months and years of labor. Writers must have a driving passion that makes them want to write. This passion is what allows them to be receptive to motivational methods in the first place.
So if those reading this article want more motivational methods, just listen to Neil Gaiman’s advice:
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