“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
– Neil Gaiman
Ok, so it might not be back-breaking physical labour (unless you have a terrible chair) but some days finding writing motivation can just feel extremely difficult. Neil Gaiman’s quote sums it up so well because the solution is so simple, to sit down and write, but at the same time, that is the very thing that is proving so hard.
There are many reasons why you might be finding it hard on any particular day:
It IS hard
Writing is hard. It’s hard to be creative and stoke the fires of your imagination on a whim. You might look like you’re not doing much sitting there in your chair, but us fellow writers and editors know your pain!
There is little reward
With writing, the reward is not always immediate. You could be working for free, or the piece you’re working on is a long way from passing into the hands of a paying customer. This can often lead to you feeling like you should be doing other things with your time.
Working at home can be great, but you’ll often find that when you’re at home, people feel like they can disturb you more than if you were doing another kind of work. Sure, it’s great to be available when people really need you, but if you’re just slipping off to do a few hours writing, there can be all manner of things and people that compete for your attention during this time.
So how can we make sitting down and writing that little bit easier?
Try not to worry. There are things we can do to alleviate each of these three problems and be well on our way to having a productive week.
Plan your time and prepare
Take the time to plan out the week ahead. Decide on what you would like completed by the weekend and what things you will do each day in order to make that happen. When you sit down to a day’s writing and you know which chapter you’re going to tackle, or how many words you need to get done why what time, it’s much easier to jump straight in. If you need to do research in the morning so you can write in the afternoon, then plan for that. When you know what you’re doing, you’ll feel much more motivated to start.
Enjoy the process
Sure, the reward might be a little way down the path, but that moment will be fleeting anyway. It’s important to bring your mind into the present moment. Enjoy the daily process of being a writer. If you can enjoy the process, then you’ve already achieved your goal. If you focus on the end point, you’ll quickly lose writing motivation. Finding a routine that works and is enjoyable is the key to staying motivated.
Create time and space for your work
It might be time to sit down with your loved ones and tell them just how important your work is to you. Kindly ask that they respect your writing time as if you were doing any other sort of work. When people realized just how important is to you, they’ll often do anything they can to support you.
Your writing space is just as important as your time. If possible, split your research and your writing so that when you’re writing you can remove yourself from internet access. The internet is one of the biggest killers of productivity when it comes to getting the words on the page.
The most important thing here is that you take the time to consider what exactly is keeping you from being your most productive self and putting things in place that will help you, including reaching out to those around you for some help. And to paraphrase an old quote, they didn’t say it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it! As always, keep learning, keep writing and build a better book.
Peter Turley is a writer, editor, blogger and podcaster living in the North West of England where he grew up. He reads, writes and edits fantasy fiction and co-hosts www.thebookeditorshow.com with Clark Chamberlain. Follow him on Twitter @PDTurley