Writing Motivation Killers Are Out There – Let’s Discuss Three of Them


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Hi SEers. John here with you again. I hope you all had a great weekend and are looking forward to the week. Okay, I know that sounded a little bit desperate but having a post responsibility on a Monday is a little like doing stand-up comedy at an 8:00 AM session of a funeral directors’ convention.

Today I want to talk a bit about our motivation and our writing. No, I’m not going to give tricks on how to motivate the writing experience. I have already done that number. On the contrary, I want to take a few minutes to discuss a few of the motivation killers to become recognizable.

I know we try to convince ourselves that we don’t need the motivation to write. We love doing it so much that all we have to do is sit down at the keyboard, and we are off and running. I think we can all agree that writing doesn’t always go that way. So why not? What are the things that are inhibitors of an idyllic writing life? I can name a few.

The first thing that could get in the way of motivation on any given day is feelings of self-doubt. It perches on the shoulder and squawks nonsense in the ear. You may not have had a visit from this unpleasant bird, but it says things like, “You sure about that storyline?” The bird can also be pretty blunt. “That one-star review you got maybe more true than just hateful.” In any case, self-doubt can do more to slow down writing progress than any single other cause. Self-doubt is hard to overcome because it comes from the one person who is most familiar with the writer. It comes from the self.

The second thing that could be a roadblock to motivation is the feeling that the craft skills are not up to the task at hand. Showing not telling, world-building, excellent character, and plot development, are all the things discussed time and time again as essential to good writing. Sometimes it can almost be overwhelming. Too much concentration on getting everything right may lead to not even wanting to begin. It is like asking a golfer if they breathe out or in on their golf swing. It is a sure bet on the swing after the question; the golfer will hit a miserable shot because of overthinking about the breath.

The third thing that could affect motivation is the general satisfaction the writer receives from the work. If the work involves struggling to achieve happiness, then it would take a strong person to continue to face that uphill battle every time sitting down to write. If there is no satisfaction achieved in writing, then motivation will be non-existent for the average person.

I think we all have been a victim of each of these motivation killers at one time or another. Knowing these motivation killers are out there is a recognition that they are not unusual. This recognition is the first step in the elimination of their effect. It is up to each of us to continue to keep them at bay.

How about you? Have you been in the grips of a motivation killer? Tell us in the comments how you broke free.

101 thoughts on “Writing Motivation Killers Are Out There – Let’s Discuss Three of Them

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  3. It is very important to know about the killers of motivation to avoid falling into these traps. However, I think that everything could hurt or even kill, at a particular stage, if we aren’t aware that motivation comes first. In my opinion, we need to search for one thing only: motivation; and at the same time, we need to avoid thinking about things that may hurt. I do write my articles on landioustravel.com for tourists to read. It took me up to 3 years to train but I never give up … I go high

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  7. Great post, John. All of those things can throw us off track, for sure. The biggest one for me, however, is having way too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. When I’m trying to handle too many things at once, most of which have deadlines involved, I can’t find much time for writing. And worse yet, the time I do find isn’t as productive as it should be because in the back of my mind, I know I have these other things hanging over my head.

    We are our own worst enemies sometimes, aren’t we? Thanks for these reminders. Sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. HI John, thanks for sharing these three motivation “killers”. I don’t know why anyone would write if they don’t get satisfaction from it, after all, unless you are Stephen King or JK Rowling it is not a big money spinner. You can learn the tools of the craft if you are diligent and put the effort in so for me that one isn’t a bit handbrake. Self doubt, now that is a killer of motivation and confidence, and it is the most difficult one to overcome.

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  9. You’ve hit on something here that we’ve all experienced at one time or another, John. For me, the best motivator is a good review from someone I’ve never heard of saying they loved a story. That will get me fired up quicker than anything! Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Excellent post, John! I especially like the golf analogy. I do believe there is such a thing as too much advice. My sports analogy is similar. I used to coach little league baseball, and sometimes there are so many people offering advice to a kid (some of it contradictory) that you can almost see the wheels spinning. I’m sure writers go through the same thing at times.

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  11. Yes, most bloggers lose their way because they do not understand their own why, the reason they are blogging for.
    Your own mind should be satisfied First by what you write before you put your writing across to the world…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. A timely posting! I go through self-doubt frequently and it can stop me writing for days at a time. What usually happens is the urge to write takes over again and when I read through my last chapters my perspective is less skewed. I do think you need sensitivity to write well and without it you can be left with a brash self-confidence that doesn’t stand you in good stead. This is such a valuable post, John, and written beautifully of course!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Every time, before I publish a book, I worry that it’s not good enough. I’m used to that now and expect it. When it comes to writing the book, I always remind myself that the first draft won’t be perfect. I just need to get it done. it can even have big flaws. It might even suck. But that’s what rewrites are for. I can fix things. And having solid critique partners I trust makes a big difference. When they read my work and say it’s ready, I know it has to be at least decent.

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  14. Absolutely, John. Self-doubt or second-guessing one’s self can paralyze creativity and production. Talking one’s self off the ledge, so to speak, is a learned skill. Yet, some days, that little voice still creeps in from time to time.

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    • It is with me everyday. I have learned to ignore it once I type the first word. Getting to that first word sometimes feels like I have gone hand to hand with a grizzly. Lucky for me it isn’t often that severe. Thank you Sue. 😊

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  15. Those three hit a lot. For me, they tend to be triggered by an outside factor. I can be motivated and focused for days then get detailed by someone souring my mood. It doesn’t even have to be a writing-related incident. I just need to have my anxiety and depression triggered. Then it’s back to tv on and watching the ceiling fan.

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  16. I’ve experience all those things. Not sure how I got over them, except to sit and write. They still pay a visit from time to time. Most recently after publishing two books within weeks, exhaustion visited. I kept wondering “if” I ever wanted to write again. But now that the tours are over, the creative juices are once again flowing.

    I also agree with Mae. I used to devour books about the writing craft and most of the time I wondered if I would ever be able to write. I’ve all but stopped reading them, only referring to reference books when needed.

    Good post, John. And I had to chuckle about doing stand-up comedy at a funeral director’s convention. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Joan. I actually did a stand up routine in front of a bunch of born again Christians from Alabama and was covered with so much flop sweat it became funny to me. Still have nightmares. Push through the killers is the only way. Thanks. 😊

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  17. Wonderful reminders, John. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not “the only one” who tackles these motivation downers. Sometimes it’s faith or humility that carves a path forward for me. Thank you for sharing encouragement. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Making time is a big motivation killer for me. If I have to squeeze in writing in an already tight schedule, many times I forgo it. Laziness is the flip side of that….I finally have some free time and want to spend it reading a book at the pool rather than pounding away on my keyboard. In both cases I have to force myself to write.

    I also recall a time many years ago when I devoured craft books. I got so hung up on all the nuts and bolts of writing, it sucked the creativity out of me. As you mentioned above, I was too focused on getting all the techniques just right, and couldn’t see past this. To this day, I will rarely (if ever) read a craft book for that reason!

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    • My whole objective was just to air the laundry. I think each of us struggle in our own way and when we see others haveing the same problem there is an awareness of a shared situation that somehow makes the problem seem less critical. Thanks, Harmony 😊

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    • Notice I didn’t give a lot of advice on overcoming them. I just wanted to throw some light and maybe others won’t feel so alone. Like you, I have been bedeviled with these and stilam to some degree. Thanks, Staci. 😊

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  20. This is a really good reminder to identify what can negatively affect our writing. I feel that I’ve been getting better at the second and third items. Probably due to the practice of writing and being open to continue learning about the craft. The first item is a big one with me. For years, it affected me so much that I didn’t finish long stories and didn’t self-publish. It’s taken me a while to view self-doubt as part of my life, and I need to work with it — not try to “overcome” it. I still feel a lot of self-doubt, but I think of it as “keep working on the story, keep polishing it.” That’s caused me to enjoy editing more than I used to. Putting time and care into editing has shaped my stories and myself.

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    • You and I share the same battle with self doubt, Dave. It hits me on a daily basis and for some reason has become stronger the more I continue to write. I might put that down to age but in any case your advice to live with it is the best I’ve seen. Thank you for your comment today. Makes me feel that maybe I’m not the only one afflicted. That is a good thing for sure. 😁

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  21. Excellent post, John, and very common causes, I’d say. Thank you. I’m with Jill and listen to a lot of music while writing. It doesn’t always improve the standard of the output but helps calm the atmosphere. Of course, if we did think ourselves and our words too superior, we’d remain stagnant and boring. Long live curiosity and learning….

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Great post, John 🙂 You hit on three things that certainly have been issues for me at one time or another. The second one can be the one that holds me back the most, trying to address everything we need to make our writing the best. All I can do is keep learning and improving with each book I write, and to remind myself how much I’ve learned already.

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