Feeling low on writing motivation? All you need is the right toolkit. Here are six tips that’ll change your writing game forever.
You have lots of ideas you want to share with the world, but…
The motivation to sit down and write just isn’t there.
You open your laptop with great intentions, but end up getting trapped by your Instagram feed.
Maybe you even start writing — but ten minutes later succumb to an uncontrollable urge to get up and organize your spice rack.
Or perhaps you’re just tired. And who can blame you? You have so much going on in your life that when you get home from work all you need is your couch and your Netflix — not more work.
Therefore, you can’t help but wonder:
How do other bloggers and writers find enough motivation to write every day and finish writing entire articles and books?
Here’s the truth you don’t hear that often:
Writing Motivation Doesn’t Just Happen: You Have To Go Get It
Most successful freelance writers and bloggers have busy lives too.
Surprising as it may seem, they also struggle with tiredness, procrastination, and lack of writing motivation. No matter how successful you become, you will always have days when you feel uninspired, overcome with imposter syndrome, or when even watching the grass grow will seem more fun than writing.
So… what’s the secret?
You can’t just rely on writing motivation to magically appear — you need to know how to create it.
The good news is, this is often easier than you think.
6 Hacks to Help You Regain Your Writing Motivation
Imagine that you’re building a new shelf. If you realize you have the wrong screwdriver for those screws, do you sit in misery and hope the problem will solve itself?
Of course not. You probably wouldn’t waste hours trying to force the screwdriver until it fits, either.
No, you would go to the shop and either buy new screws, or a new screwdriver (or if you’re lazy like me, go through all your kitchen knives and see if any does the trick).
The same happens with writing: when you feel stuck, you just need to find the right tool that will get you unstuck. And very often, if you hit the nail in the head (pun intended), you’ll be back into a flow in a matter of minutes.
Here are six very simple tips and mindset tweaks that have not only helped me regain writing motivation in my toughest moments, but also allowed me to create my best work ever.
1. Find Your Why, Then Stick With a How
For the first few months after I started my blog, I felt lost and unmotivated.
I kept reading articles about writing and blogging and trying different strategies a few days at a time, until I realized I was seeing no results.
It was frustrating.
Eventually, tired of shifting and indecision, I decided to invest in a blogging course — and everything changed. Sure, I could probably find all the advice I wanted online; but committing to one method and following it through to the end helped me eliminate all my doubts, stress, and decision pressure, and as a consequence my mind was finally free to be creative.
However, having a strategy isn’t enough.
Yes, taking that course has led me to develop my voice, write hundreds of articles, get thousands of subscribers, and sell my first online course. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am.
But the truth is, despite technically knowing the path, I still lose motivation sometimes. I still get tired, busy, and stuck, and I still have bad days. In those moments, what keeps me going is knowing my purpose as a writer: to touch, inspire, and share knowledge that will help my readers become the best version of themselves.
To me, building a solid foundation of writing motivation takes two steps:
Ask yourself why you want to write
What’s the change you want to make in your readers? How will writing improve your life? How will it fulfill you? What’s the dream that will fuel your motivation on this journey?
Writer Benjamin Hardy created a journaling exercise where you identify something you want, and then you ask yourself “What about __________ is important to me?” enough times until you get to the “deepest why” behind it.
Here’s an example:
[Thing I want:] Writing.
[Question:] What about writing is important to me?
[Thing I want:] Expressing myself.
[Question:] What about expressing myself is important to me?
[Thing I want:] Sharing my experiences with others.
[Question:] What about sharing my experiences with others is important to me?
[Thing I want:] Making people feel seen and understood.
[Question:] What about making people feel seen and understood is important to me?
[Thing I want:] Bringing awareness to our shared humanity and making the world a better, kinder place.
Whether your dream is self-publishing a bestseller on Amazon or starting a blog to support people with breast cancer, set writing goals that mean something to you, and then…
Find a strategy that allows you to fulfill your why
Exploring different alternatives and learning from different sources is useful when you start, but if you want to see real results, at some point you’ll have to choose one strategy and stick with it. Therefore, find a course, a program, or a method, and follow it through to the end.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the best one out there — what matters is that it will remove stress and decision fatigue, and you’ll stay at one thing for long enough until it starts working.
2. Spice It Up
Sometimes, no matter how sure we are about our purpose and strategy, we will still face most writers’ worst enemy:
When I get stuck with a difficult article, it can be hell to make myself go back to work the next day.
There’s nothing more demotivating than believing that you’ll never be able to write anything good again, that you’re a fraud and all your ideas suck.
It was Anne Lamott’s mind-shifting perspective on writer’s block that changed it all for me:
“I no longer think of it as block. I think that is looking at the problem from the wrong angle. If your wife locks you out of the house, you don’t have a problem with your door. The word block suggests that you are constipated or stuck, when the truth is that you’re empty.” — Anne Lammot in Bird By Bird: Instructions On Writing And Life
Next time you feel out of ideas or can’t solve a problem, try to fill that emptiness with something fresh by spicing up your writing routine.
For example, I often struggle with getting my brain going first thing in the morning. Therefore, instead of starting with my most important work, I often start the day by replying to emails from subscribers. This removes the pressure to be perfect and makes me confident that I can type something that doesn’t totally suck.
Here are a few ideas you can use:
- If you write nonfiction articles for a living, spice it up with some creative writing exercises;
- If you’re working on a long novel, take a break to work on your metaphor skills;
- If you usually type on your computer, grab a journal or fill a stack of note cards with ideas instead;
- If you work from home, spend the day writing at a coffee shop;
- If you’re used to reading books and articles for writing inspiration, try listening to a writing podcast, watching a movie, or going to an art exhibition instead;
- If you’ve been stuck for hours and nothing comes out, take a break.
3. Take It One Step At a Time
One of the most common ways to lose your writing motivation is by setting big goals in a moment of optimism and then end up feeling overwhelmed.
I recently set myself a goal to write 50 guest posts in the space of two months.
Most of my writer friends tell me I’m crazy. Some days I agree, and I can feel my heart skipping a beat at the thought of the challenge ahead of me.
But there is one thing that keeps me sane:
Focusing on the next small step.
After some thinking and planning, I decided that the first step towards writing 50 guest posts was to write three headlines a day until I had a list of 50. So I just focused on that first step and chose not to worry about the rest until the right time came.
“Write three headlines” is not as scary as “start writing 50 guest posts.”
As I saw my progress, my motivation kept growing. To make sure I kept at it, I tracked my progress in my journal. Then, I gradually added more complex goals:
- Reading five blog posts a day,
- Writing for three hours in the morning,
- Sending one pitch per day,
- Keeping track of my word count,
The key is to build up gradually: start really simple, build consistency, let that fuel your confidence, and then keep placing one foot in front of the other.
4. Big Problems First
Before I started working on my 50 guest posts goal, I was writing on average one article every two weeks. Now, I have to gradually build up to two per day.
The amount of writing time I have available hasn’t changed — therefore, the only option was to write faster.
In her book 2,000 to 10,000, Rachel Aaron explained how she increased her writing speed to 10,000 words in a single day by spending five minutes before every writing session deciding what she would be writing about and scribbling it on a piece of paper.
“I didn’t describe anything, I didn’t do transitions or dialog, I wasn’t writing, I was simply noting down what I would write when the time came,” she explains.
As it has been proven that our brains are at their most creative first thing in the morning, I applied Aaron’s brilliant writing tip and started outlining my articles in my journal before breakfast.
Let me tell you this: never before has a 15-minute writing tip made me so clear-headed and inspired to start my writing day. Not only has this removed a lot of my resistance to start writing, but it also increased my writing speed from 500 to up to 1,500 words per hour.
Nothing will motivate you more than knowing exactly what you’ll be writing about before you start writing it — after that, all you need to do is type it.
5. Create Your Focus Vortex
It’s time to address the elephant in the room:
How do you fight the procrastination that keeps you from writing?
The lure of just another YouTube video, the popping notification, the inviting weather outside…
Distractions can be one of the main culprits in keeping you from writing.
In an interview with Tim Ferris, Neil Gaiman shared his writing motivation secret that keeps him from procrastinating. It goes like this:
In order to make himself write, he takes his notepad to his cabin in the garden where there is absolutely nothing to do. There, he gives himself two options: he can either write, or do nothing at all. Eventually, doing nothing becomes too boring, and writing becomes the most appealing option.
I don’t have a cabin (or a garden, for that matter), but I have earphones: when I want to focus, I put on some music, and I stick a post-it to my laptop letting people know that I’m in my focus vortex and I can’t be disturbed.
The result? Reducing distractions is a great motivator: not only do I achieve more in less time, but I have much more fun in the process.
6. Fuel Your Mind
Productivity and motivation require an energized mind. Having an energized mind requires an energized body.
Do you see what I’m getting at? This might seem out of place, but it’s probably the most important item on this list: if you want to stay motivated, you need to fuel your body and your mind with the right foods, regular movement, and inspiring food for thought.
When I started noticing how intimately my health and well-being were connected to my productivity and writing motivation, I gradually started tweaking my habits and routine to optimize my creative power.
Here are a few changes I made:
- Whenever I feel tired and unmotivated, instead of drinking coffee or stressing out, I drink a glass of water and do a sun salutation — it works like magic!
- As I’m more productive in the morning, I started waking up at 5:30 every day and spend around an hour writing on my journal to unlock new ideas and brainstorm problems;
- Every day after breakfast I take a walk with my partner where we discuss ideas for our blog, which keeps us fit and allows us to come up with our best ideas.
I’m not telling you to do the same things as me; all I’m saying is that there is a connection between body and mind.
So get up from the couch, roll your shoulders back, drink a tall glass of orange juice, and take a walk around your neighborhood while you listen to your favorite motivational speaker.
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Reignite Your Writing Motivation
Whether you feel lazy, unmotivated to write, facing writer’s block, or simply stuck in a procrastination whole, the problem is not you: all you need is to find the right tool to get you unstuck.
Therefore, after you finish reading this article, don’t get trapped in a self-commiseration loop; instead, pick one of the steps above and commit to giving it a try today.
And who knows — your best work might be just around the corner.