Being a writer can be a tough gig. Sure it looks like fun, jet-setting to book signings, seeing your work on the big screen. Having fans. Good times from what I hear. Unfortunately, all the fun to be had comes after the writing is finished and good times aren’t guaranteed, much less an audience. It’s just you spending hours upon hours trying to wrestle a jumble of thoughts and ideas into something that will keep readers turning the page.
So how do you stay motivated to keep banging on the keyboard, especially when the term “starving writer” is still very accurate today? Here are five ways to help you push through your doubts and keep writing.
- Keep reinforcements close by. Most times, you’re stuck for a reason. Plot problems, not sure where to go with the rewrite or a host of other issues. Keep books on craft and inspiration handy. You may find just the gem to help push through those trouble spots. Here are some favorites: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: Editing Your Way Into Print, Walking on Alligators, 179 Ways To Save A Novel and Novel Shortcuts just to name a few.
- Remember your passion. On days when you feel as though extracting the story is very much like pulling on stubborn wisdom teeth, take a break and read over your initial story synopsis and notes. What got you excited about this piece in the first place? Who are your characters? Sometimes you have to be reined in your original vision. An outline may be just the guide you need. Of course, the story will evolve, but sometimes referring to your notes will help to spark a flame that will rekindle your passion. Here’s a great site that has templates for novel outlines at the bottom of the page. If you’re a Scrivener user, here are some great templates as well.
- Set a goal with hard consequences. There’s something about setting a goal and then knowing if you don’t reach it, there are consequences. Find a contest deadline or conference/event that you want to attend with your work in hand. This is not a carte blanche excuse to rush; in fact it’s the opposite. Be realistic about your goals and make sure you have enough time to produce your best work possible.
- Find like-minded company. If you don’t have a critique group or writing partner, now’s the time to find one. Having other writers (not family members or friends) look over your work can be invaluable. GalleyCat has a great list of writers looking for a critique partner or group.
- Find a role model. Sometimes, just the knowledge of knowing it’s been done before is all you need to keep going. Whether you’re traditionally published or never been published, there are so many relatable success stories out there, you can’t help but want to complete your project. Who knows? You could be the next big thing… You can find inspiring stories here, here and here.
So look around in your own life and see where you can draw inspiration and motivation and once you find it, make sure you use it. That’s what it’s there for. Now get to work!
Sibylla Nash is an author and freelance writer. You may visit her website at www.sibyllanash.com