If you’ve read the (long) summary I gave of my experience completing that first manuscript, you might think I’m the last person qualified to dispense advice on finding the time and motivation to write. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who hasn’t struggled with distraction, busy schedules and fatigue at some point. You’re going to have some days that are more motivating than others. You’re probably going to fall off the writing wagon and let days, weeks or even months go by without properly working toward your goals.You’ll have plenty of excuses—my personal favorite involves staring at my computer all day writing (business topics), making me less apt to want to spend my free time staring at my computer writing…—but in the end, only you have the power to see your writing goals through.
Here are some tips I’ve found that help me find the time and motivation to write:
- Make time, don’t “find” time. Get up half an hour earlier or stay up half an hour later. Work during your lunch break. If you have kids, work while they’re at school or ask your partner or a friend to watch them for just an hour each day so you can work while not distracted. Give up an hour of TV.
- If you go a day or two without writing, try especially hard to get back into the groove ASAP. The longer you go without writing, the harder it will be to re-capture your muse.
- Make friends who also love writing and share your works-in-progress with each other.
Watching a friend meet her goals and getting support and encouragement from one another can help you keep going.
- Exercise often. I’m someone who groans at the idea of exercise, but taking a break from the computer and getting your blood pumping can wake you up and make you feel more alert.
- Broaden your writing goals. If working on one manuscript is starting to get like pulling teeth, take a day or two to devote to short story, poetry or essay writing. Start a new manuscript; you can have more than one going at once.
- Discover your writing “style.” Some people write well by first plotting their manuscripts in detail, so they can write with a “map” to follow, allowing themselves to make changes as they come up with them. (Oh, how I envy you….) Others write better with an idea or scene in mind. Just write whatever comes to you–you can fix it all in editing. If you feel like writing a scene that takes place in the middle of a chapter and going back to write the part beforehand later, try it.
- Turn off the Internet. If you’re typing your manuscript, more likely than not you have access to the Internet and all the little memes and entertainment news and social network pages that bring our brains such joy, even if they’re of no import at the end of the day. It can be tempting to keep checking those every few minutes when writing is going especially slowly for you. Shut off the Internet if possible when you write… And try not to turn it back on.
What tips do you have that have worked for you?