Motivation – How to Maintain it and How to Get it Back if Misplaced

Hello SEers. John, with you today to discuss motivation.

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I feel a little like the resident coach when it comes to my topics here on Story Empire. I think that is true because I am concerned that those who have chosen to be authors (Yes, that’s you) work in an environment that, for the most part, is self-driven. Unless you have a big contract with Random House, the words you write are words you choose to write at a pace you choose to write them. With all that freedom comes the pitfalls associated with self-directed productivity.

What are those pitfalls? Here are just a few procrastination, self-doubt, poor time management, and lack of motivation.

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Given the title of the post, I want to discuss the last one, motivation. I have been seeing a lot of correspondence where authors seem to be commiserating with each other on the lack of motivation. The sad thing is motivation is the fuel that drives the writing engine. If a writer is not feeling motivated for whatever reason, then all the creative ideas, no matter how great, are going to remain unwritten.

Why would an author lack motivation? I’m sure if you look back on your own experience, you can pinpoint a few reasons.

  1. Family obligations
  2. Work issues
  3. Economic concerns
  4. Health issues
  5. Political concerns
  6. Story concerns

These are all very legitimate reasons to lose the momentum necessary to keep writing. This list was purposely drawn up to include those items over which there is very little direct control that the author can put into place to have them go away. In real life, this stuff happens, and it would be very naive to offer advice on how to get rid of them.

So how do we maintain our motivation in the face of these issues, and importantly how do we get our motivation back if it is misplaced?

I’m suggesting an effortless way that includes (you guessed it) five steps.

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Step one. Take a moment each day and list a couple of points about what makes you excited about your story. (This will remind you of where you have been)

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Step two. Read your list out loud. Do it softly, though. You don’t want those around you to think you need an intervention. (This will cause you to forget why you are not motivated and turn your attention to your work)

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Step three. Take a moment to think about your story. Jot down one item that, if it was in the story, it would make it more exciting to you. (This will set the stage for additional plot or action items)

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Step four. Put your list and the item missing on the top corner of your desk. (This action keeps a record for the next time you need to be motivated)

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Step five. Go back to where you left off and start writing again, but promise yourself you will only write for a half-hour. (The half-hour promise is to put you back into control of the writing process. A half-hour is a time frame you can find.  We are discussing motivation here, not productivity)

These steps work for me when I have a motivation issue. They could be done before each writing session, but understandably they are not needed all the time.

I hope you can find some value in this post.  Do you have any tricks to maintain and revive motivation? If so, please share in the comments section.



76 thoughts on “Motivation – How to Maintain it and How to Get it Back if Misplaced

  1. Pingback: Motivation – How to Maintain it and How to Get it Back if Misplaced – Wishful Thoughts

  2. Pingback: How to Restart Stalled Creativity the Easy Way | Story Empire

  3. Great post and tips, John, and your list of reasons why we become unmotivated is spot on. 🙂 While I’m not a fiction writer, I’m working on another collection of poetry and short memoirs, so for me, early morning works to carve out some writing and editing time. I’ll keep your 5 steps in mind, though, for when the motivation goes south (again). ☺

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great tips, John. I haven’t been doing this long enough to offer anything more than what works for me. I like to start my day by taking a brisk walk. (3-4 miles) While I’m walking, I often think about what just happened in my story and the logical progressions it could take next. I seem to do my best thinking when my mind is free like that. When I get back, I’m often raring to go, anxious to try one of the things I’ve been thinking about.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I enjoy writing so much, that I don’t sag very often, but it happens to all of us. When I’m in a funk, I let myself write a short story or play with new ideas for whatever I’m working on. Most of the time, that helps, but you have a great list. I can see why you’re the “coach.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Having trouble finding and maintaining your motivation to write? John Howell has a most excellent and helpful post about this on Story Empire today that you really should check out. And I hope you’ll remember to pass it along far and wide so others can check it out, as well. Thanks, and thanks, John, for giving me some good ideas! Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I very much love this list, John. I’ve always said that the only thing in life we really have ANY control over is our reaction to it. With this post, you’ve clearly listed events & issues we can’t control, and offered fixes that focus on what we CAN control–our reaction to–or way of dealing with–those very things. Now THESE are steps I can understand and make use of. I especially like the 1/2 hour time limit on writing. I’m always hunting for two or three hour chunks, and hardly ever finding them. Thirty minutes is a slice of time I believe I can manage, and by golly, I’m gonna give it a go.

    Thanks so much for such a helpful and inspiring post, John! Passing it along for others to ponder. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. All good tips, John. I find another good motivation is timed sprints with my circle of authors. We start and stop at the same time. After time’s up, we go into our chat room and talk about our WIPs. Friendly encouragement is another way to motivate.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. An excellent post and useful tips, John. Because of NaNoWriMo I’m currently very motivated to write (finding time is still an issue though, LOL). I’m in a high creative spurt, but there have been plenty of times where I’ve lacked motivation to return to my WIP, These tips will certainly help moving ahead. Many thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Deadlines can sometimes suck the joy of writing out of a project. They are effective but may come at a cost. My little method is to maintain the joy in spite of other factors. It might only work for nutcases like me. Who knows? I would love to know if you find it useful. Thanks, Staci. 😊

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Great list, John. I’ll admit, if I didn’t have deadlines, I’d probably never finish anything. I’m great at spotting those hidden dust bunnies when it’s time to sit down and write. If a writer doesn’t have contractual deadlines, it’s alway good to set self-imposed dated to finish the project. As for being excited about your work, I agree completely. If you aren’t excited, how can you expect a reader to be.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. What a great post, John. I began writing my final book of a series, then health issues erupted, followed by political chaos, and finally sorrow in the family. The story recoiled into a dark corner along with my motivation. Your solution of jotting down one item and dedicating 30 minutes to writing is perfect. That’s something I can do. Additionally, I’ve found that nature is a great healer and motivator. 😊

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Five valid pointers here, John… and not really news to most of us. Deep down, we know what to do, even when the going gets tough.
    The problem, as I see it from my side of the fence, is the doubt that creeps in every time something stops me from writing. This quickly turns to resentment, which is the quickest way to kill any hint of motivation.
    Question: should I stop playing catch up and concentrate on my writing? Even though both are important?
    Answer: I am trying to spend time on both, but not getting very far…

    Liked by 8 people

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