How to get motivated and end your slump.

Have you lost your mojo?

Has your ‘Get up and go’ gone?

You know you want to write. You need to write. You must write! The urge and passion to do it have withered under life’s brutal responsibilities. You wonder if it will ever rise again and spur you on to write your best work ever.

It’s a never-ending cycle of ups and downs. Your head is spinning. Your stomach is rolling. Your strength is zapped. It’s a monumental effort just to sit at your computer and think let alone write. You almost give up. Almost… but not quite. You know you have it in you.

So how do you keep going in the face of so much struggle?

How do you get your drive back and get your fingers moving?

How to discover why you lost your motivation.

The first thing that’s important to discover is why you lost your motivation in the first place. Let’s delve into the biggest ones.

Flexibility – It can be hard and feel impossible to write if you only have a certain set amount of time and space to do so. If you miss that time you feel awful because you didn’t make any progress and expend your creativity. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You’ll miss it sometimes, that’s just a given. If you look closely at your schedule, you may find small chunks in between important tasks/work/family that you can get a little bit done.

Family commitments – Let’s face it. Family comes before writing. That’s fine but your family needs to know how important writing is to you. Let them help you rearrange appointments or take care of something for you so you can write. You’d be surprised at how willing they are if you just ask. Finding time to write in between family commitments is hard, but absolutely doable.

Illness – This is a big one for me and is a real challenge for a lot of people. I have time when the kids are at school since I’m a stay at home mum, but by the time I’ve done some chores, my energy and focus is drained and I have to rest. Finding when I can write has been tricky and hard to stick to but doable especially when I remind myself that it’s okay to leave the cleaning for later sometimes. Asking for help makes a huge difference.

Perfectionism – Yep. This one hits me too. As a creative type and wanting to do my best and not letting myself do any less actually hurts me in the long run. I don’t finish things and I get depressed and stop writing. Getting it done is better than perfect. Good enough is better than perfect. Getting it out there and read is way better than perfect. It feels great to stop letting perfectionism get in my way but it takes time and practice.

Unrealistic expectations – Why do we think that writing is easy? Why do we think that our little book will be a best seller overnight? Do we buy into the hype of advertising and let unrealistic expectations drive us? Yes. Unfortunately. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that all of our hard work will pay off instantly. Wrong. At least for most of us. I think it’s healthy to look at things closely when it comes to success and be honest with ourselves. It won’t happen overnight but it can happen if we work hard at it.

Impatience – I want it done and I want it done now! I’m sick of all this editing! When will someone buy my book! Ugh! Sound familiar? It’s a hard slog to get a story finished let alone advertise and sell etc… Our impatience to succeed can hinder our progress. We focus so much on one piece being successful that we forget to work on other stories while we are waiting for our work to be recognised. Once a piece is done I do what I can to get it out there and move on to the next one.

These are only some of the reasons why writers lose their motivation. I’m sure you can add a few more, and they may likely fall into one or more of these areas. The point here is that so many things can get in the way of our progress. Just how badly do you want to succeed? Are you going to let these things get in your way?

When stuff happens, and there’s no way it can be avoided, it’s easy to put our creativity on the shelf. The risk is that it will stay there for longer than we wanted and we begin wondering why we started in the first place. So, let me ask you a question…

Why do you write?

The big question of WHY we write is the key to getting back on track. Go back to when you first discovered your love of writing and try and answer these questions.

When did you write your first story/article etc…?

Why did you write it?

How did you feel when you wrote it?

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Why do you want to be a writer?

My love of writing came directly from my love of reading stories. I read at an early age and I read a lot. It wasn’t until late into my teens did I realise I had a knack for it and really wanted to write a novel.

As an avid reader of adventures, I wanted to write something exciting with a bit of romance thrown in, based very loosely on some family history.

I wanted to write something that I loved to read.

That’s how my love of writing began. Needless to say it wasn’t until last year that I actually finished a novel (not the one I started years ago) and self-published it. Even when I stopped and started for years, I couldn’t let my self-doubt and my lack of motivation (amongst other things) stop me from realising my dream.

It’s okay to stop for important reasons. It happens. Just make sure it’s very temporary. Remember why you write. Remember what motivated you to start. Just keep trying.

“When you feel like stopping, think about why you started.” 

How to Keep it When You’ve Got It

There a several easy ways to hold on to your motivation.

First, ask yourself what kept you going in the past? Make a list. Is it still working or do you need new ways to stay motivated?

Second, treat it like a priority. Schedule it in like an appointment that cannot be missed. In between other tasks/appointments etc… Even if it’s only five minutes.

Thirdly, take it slow and steady from easy to manage small habits and increase them over time. Trying to do too much at once will overwhelm you and you’ll give up. Bit by bit is how you’ll find your way.

Fourthly, find someone, another writer, a friend or close family member who will help keep you accountable without being pushy. Writer’s groups are great for this but even someone who can send you an email or quick text to ask if you’ve kept up with your writing today or this week can spur you on.

Lastly, give yourself a break. Seriously. We creative types can be too hard on ourselves sometimes. If we’re not feeling motivated we can be so annoyed with ourselves that our creativity stops flowing and motivation just goes. Taking a break can refresh our bodies and our minds. Sometimes, a lot of the time, breaks give us motivation because we aren’t thinking so hard or so stressed.

Once you’ve found your motivation its hard work to keep it. Knowing what motivates you can help you keep on track. Keeping a list works well. And if what worked last time didn’t work this time, write it down.

Thanks for reading!

I hope you have been encouraged to keep writing and rediscover your motivation and ways to keep it.

Two of my favourite motivational books are ‘Crank It Out!’ By C.S. Lakin and ‘How To Make A Living As A Writer’ by James Scott Bell. Writing gold!

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