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How do you motivate yourself?

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Old 07-02-2014, 06:38 PM
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Icon1 How do you motivate yourself?


I love to write, but I've always had problems getting myself to actually work on things for an extended period of time(if anyone asks, my mom is actually making me get checked for ADD), even if it's something I enjoy doing. I don't know why I have this problem and it really annoys me but I try to find ways to motivate myself.

Sometimes cigarettes or cigarillos help but I'm not a huge fan of tobacco so I only smoke before I write occasionally. Usually I just start writing when I get an idea or feel like expanding on an idea that isn't fully formed yet. Hence why I have 10,000 words of the book I'm working on, but it's so incredible disjointed and I struggle with trying to get myself to fill in all the details to connect it together.

So, how do you motivate yourself to write when it just isn't happening, or to keep writing after you've written a few hundred words of a scene you wanted to write, but know you should really work on other scenes as well?

EDIT: Thought I'd add on another question; how many words/how much do you usually write in one sitting? Sadly I usually can't bring myself to surpass around 1500 words at a time before I distract myself. Thus my writing has gone slowly so far...I'm trying to fix this.


Last edited by bluesofmuse; 07-02-2014 at 07:22 PM..
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Old 07-02-2014, 11:12 PM
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Hi blue,

Motivation...? Hhhhm. I can't say "it's the money" because it's a lot deeper than that. There's times when it just doesn't work, and I find it's best to walk away then. Mostly just to stock up on energy. But it usually reaches a point where I have to write. No ifs and buts, just write. I don't write in order either; I'll write whichever scene gets the blood going.

As for how much I can write... usually between 7-10k in a sitting.

Everyone's differnt, though.

I just think you don't have to beat yourself up if you say "Nah, not feeling this today."
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Old 07-02-2014, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Whiskers View Post
Hi blue,

Motivation...? Hhhhm. I can't say "it's the money" because it's a lot deeper than that. There's times when it just doesn't work, and I find it's best to walk away then. Mostly just to stock up on energy. But it usually reaches a point where I have to write. No ifs and buts, just write. I don't write in order either; I'll write whichever scene gets the blood going.

As for how much I can write... usually between 7-10k in a sitting.

Everyone's differnt, though.

I just think you don't have to beat yourself up if you say "Nah, not feeling this today."
God, I just recently hit 10k on something I've been working on for months :/ I'm the same way, sometimes I get something in my head and I have to write, but usually when I do it's not very much at a time. I don't know why, I'm really passionate about what I'm working on atm but I can never seem to get in a very long groove of it. I don't know. But then, I only started writing again earlier this year so maybe I just have to find my work ethic for it.

I'm starting to think maybe my mom is right about my attention problems, though, so that may be it too lol. I guess I'll figure it out at some point, I'm determined to finish this book.
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Old 07-02-2014, 11:38 PM
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God, no, blue I write that much because most times I'm on a deadline and... have to in order to get it done. You're going to find your own pace. The majority will write between 1-3 k. (Poets can spend hours shifting a comma.)

You work best at what's comfortable for you, even if you just get 200 words down. It's quality not quantity!

And yes -- you'll get the novel done. Just enjoy it in the process. Don't think you have to write so much a day to do that.

Anya's got a nice thread over in the writer's cafe asking about what peope are working on today. You can add updates in that to help keep you motivated and focused.
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Old 07-02-2014, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Whiskers View Post
God, no, blue I write that much because most times I'm on a deadline and... have to in order to get it done. You're going to find your own pace. The majority will write between 1-3 k. (Poets can spend hours shifting a comma.)

You work best at what's comfortable for you, even if you just get 200 words down. It's quality not quantity!

And yes -- you'll get the novel done. Just enjoy it in the process. Don't think you have to write so much a day to do that.

Anya's got a nice thread over in the writer's cafe asking about what peope are working on today. You can add updates in that to help keep you motivated and focused.
That's very comforting advice, actually. Thank you
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Old 07-03-2014, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bluesofmuse View Post
So, how do you motivate yourself to write when it just isn't happening, or to keep writing after you've written a few hundred words of a scene you wanted to write, but know you should really work on other scenes as well?
If it's really not happening, I will switch scenes or projects, just because I've found that beating my head against a wall over a single scene or piece does not help me - moving to something else (even if it's cleaning the house or walking the dogs) provides some distance. I'm the type of person who needs distance to make something happen. Physical activity also helps me - I can play around with an aspect in my mind while the old body is busy.

I'm also not above using prompts to get the pen moving again. During my teenage angst phase, I felt these were useless exercises devised by teachers to waste time and provide a bit of silence, but over the years I've come to find that they can be very helpful - if nothing else because they keep the pen moving.

Originally Posted by bluesofmuse View Post
Thought I'd add on another question; how many words/how much do you usually write in one sitting?
I'm a sprinter - not a marathoner, so I tend to go anywhere from 1K-3K in a single sitting. As I only write in my spare time, smaller segments are almost a necessity.

Whiskers is absolutely right - it's not about how much you do in a single sitting. The read question is are you creating something of quality. Enjoy what you're doing, and when it's not working, don't beat yourself up for setting it to the side and coming back to it later.

Whatever you do, just keep writing
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Old 07-04-2014, 07:54 AM
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Usually that 1-4k stuff. Um... if I'm not feeling it I still wrestle words on a page. I get something done, no matter how small. I can usually fly through the first ten-twenty pages before I lose steam and drop the piece.

Just write something down, even if you trash it later
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:21 AM
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If I run into a roadblock, sometimes I'll just sit outside in total silence. It's funny the Ideas that can come to you when you just watch the world for a few minutes.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:38 AM
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I can completely relate to your problem, bluesofmuse. I'm extremely dedicated to the project I've been working on for way too long -- years, and the first draft is not done, simply because I can't get myself to sit down and write.

NaNoWriMo helped me in the sense that it got me over the fear of writing something that's not good. Getting things on paper is what counts, not how good it looks. Rewriting and editing is a must, anyway. So what try to do is get down the gist of what I want to write, even if it doesn't fit the voice of the character. I'll get to that later.

I hardly ever write more than 1000 words in one sitting, and the sittings are extremely irregular. It does help to get into a flow of writing every day, I find, even if it's only 100 words.

There's no need to be afraid there's something wrong with you, though ADD won't make concentrating easier, of course. I'm fairly sure I don't have ADD, and I still cope with the same problem

For myself, I know it's also because I feel I'm better at editing than writing from scratch -- I also enjoy it more. So the actual writing of the first draft is a hurdle I have to get over, while for a lot of people the first draft is the most fun, and they loathe editing.

You simply have to find your flow by trying out different things.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:52 AM
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Default How do you motivate yourself

Well, I just hop on a computer and type . . .

writersbeat.com-

I sign in and then check my "Thanks" section.
If I have received more than I have given, I WIN!

Now get back to writing.
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:52 AM
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This has been beat to death in many a previous thread but what it comes down to is sit down and write.
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Old 07-10-2014, 01:31 AM
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sometimes whiskey helps.

or not.
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Old 07-10-2014, 03:23 AM
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It is simply your mind playing tricks. Let me give you an example, I used to weight 248lbs, I needed to lose weight. So I went out every day and started walking 2 hrs 30 mins a day and then bumped it up with an extra round to make it 3 hours 45 mins. Now to a person reading this it may seem crazy, but what kept me going is the motivation of wanting to lose weight because I wanted to become fit for the first time sice five years old. That motivation as well as seeing the numbers go down help me to now be 172lbs and now I am walking less but including weights to tone myself, which is working nicely.

Writing is the same, what is the purpose of your writing to begin with? You find that, then you begin writing, then you say to yourself I have done something today, so I will do something tomorrow, and the next day because you are seeing progress.

The mind is telling you can't do what the body actually can. You don't type or write with your mind, you use your hands, so clear your mind as it should only concentrate on the story and let those hands do its work.
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Old 07-10-2014, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by rockman View Post
sometimes whiskey helps.

or not.
Oh, yeah. Whiskey. Or whisky. As Ernest Hemingway never said, "Write drunk; edit sober."

I've found that a good Scotch works better than a cheap whiskey.
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Old 07-10-2014, 08:52 AM
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yes, quality counts in the liquor universe. i'm partial to bourbon, myself.
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Old 07-10-2014, 10:33 AM
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I think what motivates me is knowing that something good will come out of it, whether it's writing or reading I know something good will happen at one point.
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Old 07-16-2014, 08:56 PM
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I force myself, but that takes much self-discipline. It might be easier to give yourself a reward after you finish, such as watching a tv show or a refreshing shower (or sleep!). I force myself to write on scene at a time; I don't want to deal with the jumbled mess later.

I usually write 1,500-3,000 words at once.
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Old 07-18-2014, 01:26 PM
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I remind myself that if I don't write, I could possibly fail at life.
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Old 07-19-2014, 06:25 AM
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A lot of great advice in this thread!

Yeah, persistence is something few people possess, otherwise there would be a lot more good writers.

A poster was talking about a motivation loop: The more you stay at it, the more satisfying your work becomes, and the more satisfying it becomes, the more you want to stay at it.

Give yourself little rewards after having done something. Reward the work, not the outcome; so even if you are not happy with the writing, reward yourself. Rewarding just the outcome puts too much pressure on yourself.

Then just do it! There is no other way to do it than to do it...
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Old 07-20-2014, 07:42 AM
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Someone said it before, but for me it rings true: You just have to apply ass to chair. And get off the damn internet! It's easy to say these things, but wow, is it ever hard to practice them!

I'm a mom and my kids (11, 8, 7) are home all day long for the summer. I was using that as my excuse, until I went to see a friend who's kids are also home for the summer, and she's published two books. I saw her work ethic--she's mom all day long, and once the kids are in bed, she's a nighttime writing ninja. I am grateful I was able to peek into her life for a few days.
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Old 07-21-2014, 05:47 AM
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Seinfeld's productivity trick he used for writing jokes, where every day that you complete your writing task, you get to put a big red X over that day on your calendar worked exceptionally well for me.

At some point you just see a chain and you don't want to break it. Some nights, that's all that keeps you going.
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Old 07-24-2014, 04:59 AM
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I try to remember my problems.

Do you want to keep driving a semi for the next 20+ years?
Do you want to be doing physical labor?
Do you want to constantly be alone due to being on the road 45 weeks a year?

Try to remember why your writing. For me, I see it as the best chance to better my life. Could try business but its a lot riskier and the current economy is not the time for it. Wouldn't mind running a gym though.
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:05 AM
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As easy as it comes it goes, it being the spark. I write from my dreams mostly and go through periods when I am only overwhelmed not inspired by them. I don't want to listen. Feels often like there are two distinct me's. I do write better with wine though, being more uninhibited and relaxed, kind of letting it flow, you know, no worries.
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Old 07-26-2014, 06:33 PM
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Any action you do repeatedly can become a habit. All too often than not these "habits" become negitive in nature or at the very least unhealthy.

I started working on my latest project last October and was producing 2 pages a day. I got to page 80 and stopped for one reason or another.

Write. Repeat.



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Old 07-28-2014, 08:25 PM
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I haven't made any real money yet, which is why many people write. Money is a key motivator for many especially for those who make a living from it.

For me sometimes its the story telling that can be a motivator. Yes there are days when you get up and cannot write a word but there are also other days where you are side by side with your character. Your hearts pumping because he or she maybe in a situation that will determine the outcome of your story.

I have just finished the end sequence of my book, I had a plan to finish it a certain way, but instead it went off in a different direction which turned out to be better than what I planned.

Many writers get the writers blues. As long as you are aware of it then you can pull yourself out. Look around you, read books or watch the TV even going for a walk, a lot more healthier than those cigarettes. You will find your motivation.

Happy writing.
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Old 07-30-2014, 04:08 AM
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Originally Posted by bluesofmuse View Post
how do you motivate yourself to write when it just isn't happening, or to keep writing after you've written a few hundred words of a scene you wanted to write, but know you should really work on other scenes as well?
Ass on chair. Fingers typing on keyboard.

Just producing content solves the problem.
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Old 07-30-2014, 06:26 AM
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I like that, Jacobs. Well said.

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Old 07-30-2014, 09:48 AM
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Well said Jacobs! A multitude of questions, fears and what if's kept me out of the chair for years but then one day I just said you know what, I'm just going to do it and that attitude has made a huge difference, I now dedicate time every week to writing. The scene is always the same: Blues music is on in the background, cell phone and email are off, no one is home, one candle is lit, I pour an ice cold glass of diet coke and I start writing. It is usually disjointed and messy at first but it always comes together in the end due to quiet time dedicated to thinking about what I've written.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:54 PM
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Motivation usually depends on what you are writing about and how interested in it you are. Sometimes I need a break from writing just to get back in the mood. Other times I remind myself that I have bills to pay. It is also good to not make writing all that you do and set yourself a timetable where you must get things done.
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Old 08-30-2014, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by bluesofmuse View Post
I love to write, but I've always had problems getting myself to actually work on things for an extended period of time
I just wrote my first book of 90,000 words in 3 months to the day and finished two days ago. But I had many days in that period when I frittered around and wrote only 50 words.

My own personal comments on this questions would be to say that writing must be a habitual daily or almost daily exercise. I also see no reason to spend lengthy periods of time, of more than an hour or two. It also should be structured.

This is how I wrote. I am an evening person. I had coffee in my local cafe every day (well 5 days a week). Here I would sit and make plot notes for the coming section of the book and write down thoughts that would occur to me. This would mostly be in the afternoon or Tea time. Later in the evening I would take those notes and start filling in the actual telling of my story. I set myself a target of 2,000 words each day. I would often stand up and walk away after 30 minutes of intense writing. Sometimes I would do that after 15 and look out the window or have a biscuit or some small task and then go back and continue. I never ever sat writing for more than 90 minutes. That would drive me crazy or knacker my bottom .. or both.

The habitual activity is the cornerstone of keeping going. Momentum is everything in my personal view. Breaking momentum by, say, taking two or three days away from it all is TOTALLY disastrous ...to the process.

My 2
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