Today I’d like to welcome writer Desiree Villena to the blog. The last few weeks have been a bit chaotic and strange for most of us, and many writers have struggled to stay motivated to write. But there is always a way to get through these difficult moments and today on my blog I’d love to welcome this guest post by Desiree who is going to share her tips on how to get through these struggles.
How I Stay Motivated to Write Through Difficult Times
When we all set our writing goals at the beginning of the year, no one knew the pandemic was on its way, ready to turn our writing dreams into sad shipwrecks. My determination has certainly wavered since that time, and I admire anyone who has persevered with their writing projects through the anxiety and chaos that lockdown forced on us — but equally, I have nothing but compassion and solidarity for anyone who found themselves too overwhelmed to write.
Now that measures are easing in many countries and we begin to return to some semblance of normality, I thought it might be helpful to share my tips for staying motivated in difficult times — which of course, can come at any time. For example, I had to figure out what helps maintain my motivation when I embarked on long writing projects in the past; I desperately wanted to be consistent with my self-set goals, but realized that I had never had to “force” a creativity session like I had learned to force myself to do other kinds of work.
With time, though, I found a few methods to counteract the impossibly paralyzing inertia of mental distraction, and these have helped me keep writing during the coronavirus. I hope these tips will resonate with some of you! Here are three things that help me stay motivated to write, no matter what is going on in my life.
1. Read amazing work by other people
Sometimes our minds are arid places. The one thing that always inspires me to write more or persevere through a hard writing patch is reading excellent books. For me at least, it’s really exciting to read something and think “I could use my time to write a book like this.”
This is especially useful when I’m reading a friend’s draft so I can offer them feedback — if their draft is so good it makes me excited on their behalf, I’m so much more likely to get a move on with my own project! Finally, as this blog has shown, even reading a book that’s similar to an idea you had can be inspiring. So read widely, and do it with appetite.
Remember, everyone who’s ever written a book started out just like you: alone with a laptop or a piece of paper. Feel that thrill of possibility. Find what speaks to you, and immerse yourself in it until you sense the joy of the creative spark.
If you don’t have time to read entire books, I recommend going on publisher’s websites and reading book descriptions for upcoming titles. A well-crafted description can also function as a prompt for a writing exercise to get you warmed up. Loosen up those muscles and let’s go!
2. Stay connected with other writers
In addition to reading the work of other writers, it has always been helpful to me to connect with them on social media, or to follow their progress by signing up for the newsletters on their author websites.
By checking in with other writers, I feel like part of a community, and the sense of solidarity that comes with that makes a huge difference in my motivation levels. All writers struggle, have days when they’re unproductive, or days when they just hate what they’re working on. That doesn’t mean that their writing is worthless, though — and to know that successful, established, even legendary writers are still mortals is a comfort.
In addition to the emotional help other writers can provide, they can also be invaluable sources of information. So when I’m finding it hard to write, I invest my time in learning about the publishing process instead. It’s knowledge I’ll need down the line, so even if it’s a form of procrastination, I know this research will ultimately be valuable to me!
For example, any writer who is making their work available through a self-publishing company can really benefit from practical tips about marketing or publicity. Vanity publishers and scams are also something aspiring authors need to be informed about and be wary of: check out parts one and two of an informative discussion on this topic here on the Strawberry Post! Even if you really can’t write, you can still use your time in a productive way.
3. Just write something
If you’re struggling to continue an ongoing project, I’ve found that removing the pressure of picking up where I left off helps me enter the “writing bubble” more easily. This is likely due to the fact that a lot of us feel stuck when we reach structurally complex or emotionally difficult moments in our fictional worlds. Add to that a difficult external factor (hello, COVID-19), and with an especially demanding writing task, it often results in paralysis.
On days like that, I find it helps to remember that writing consistently isn’t about finishing a particular task; it’s about becoming a better writer. And becoming a better writer is a process that takes time and practice, and isn’t confined to an individual writing project. Think of Malcolm Gladwell’s famous rule that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something — any kind of writing factors into that!
So when I feel a sense of dread and loathing about my work-in-progress, I know I need to redirect my writing energy somewhere else: be that journal entries, poetry, an essay, or a piece of flash fiction. Everything counts. The key is not to lose your writing momentum!
I hope these tips can be helpful to you, as they have been to me. If you’re still struggling to write, however, this is a small reminder to be kind to yourself. Don’t push too hard — the times we’re living through are especially difficult, so don’t hold yourself to impossible standards. You may need a few days to clear your head sometimes, and that’s okay. Good luck!
About the Author
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best publishing resources and professionals. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories. She’s not always great at self-motivation, but she certainly tries her hardest!
Thank you so much to Desiree for these tips and for being a guest on this blog today. 🙂 I’m definitely going to use some of these tips in the future and come back to this post to remind me and to help me stay motivated whenever I find myself struggling to write.
Do you struggle to stay motivated to write sometimes? Do you plan to use any of these tips to help motivate yourself? What tips would you suggest? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂