This past weekend I did a Skype seminar with a group of writers back east and the question of motivation came up. One of the attendees wanted to know if I had any tips on how to keep writing when she didn’t feel like it.
I love the question, because it’s easy to say, “You just put your butt in the chair and do it!” but that’s never worked for me. Here are three things that have:
Twenty Minutes A Day
Back in 2002 when I finally decided I had to attempt a novel, I was working full time in my ad agency, had two young sons, and still wanted to have time with my wife in the evenings. So instead of promising myself I’d write for some grandiose goal like two hours a day, I committed to writing for twenty minutes, six days a week.
It worked because I knew I could do anything twenty minutes a day. I could cut one TV show a week. I could get up twenty minutes earlier. I could take a ten minute lunch instead of half an hour. If I’d promised myself an hour of writing time, I probably would have looked at the time and caved. But twenty? Done. I ended up writing a good bit of my first novel, ROOMS, twenty minutes at a time.
Realize Your Willpower Bucket Has Only So Much Juice Inside
Even if you’re not a morning person, that’s when your willpower is the strongest. (You ever wonder why nighttime is the hardest part of the day to resist packing in those extra calories?)
As the day progresses, we use up the willpower in our buckets. There’s only so much, and if you’ve used it up on everything else, it’s going to be tough to crank out the words. So write in the morning. If possible, first thing. Get to the big rock first, right?
Create So Much Pain You Can’t Say No
One of my motivators these days is my contract with Thomas Nelson. That deadline motivates me. But when I was pre-published, I had a critique group of four other writers who agreed to help me create great pain for myself (and for themselves as well) to make sure I got my words in.
The rules were simple. We met every other week on the phone. During our meeting we committed to a certain word count before we met again. If we didn’t meet our goal, we had to send each of the other members $50. (For those of you who are math challenged like me, that was $250 reasons for me to crank out my words.)
And I confess, there were weeks where I was in my writing room at 11:30 pm, whacking away at my laptop because I didn’t want to write those checks.
Your turn, ’cause we all of us face the Motivation Wall of Doom from time to time. What do you do to stay motivated? Inquiring writers would love to know.
James L. Rubart is the best-selling and Christy award
winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, THE CHAIR, SOUL’S GATE, MEMORY’S DOOR,
and SPIRIT BRIDGE (May ’14). During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which
helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he
dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand.
No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the
Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a
madman. More at http://jameslrubart.com/