It’s Friday and I’ve procrastinated this article for nearly a week. Well, it wasn’t all procrastination. But there has been plenty to keep me busy and none of it was writing.
There are other times when I have nothing to do and Google Docs is open, the cursor staring at me, blinking accusations because there are no words before or behind it.
I’m talking about motivation, people. If it were simple or easy, everyone would write. These are hard things to do, but doing them gets you to the nitty-gritty of where you want to be as a writer.
Writing isn’t just about writing things down. It’s also about thinking. If you’re thinking, you’re coming up with things that will be useful later. Sometimes you have to mull over a concept before you can even begin the writing process. The more you consider something, or turn a topic over in your head, the more ammunition you have when you get to step two.
And what’s step two?
If there are no words, there is nothing else. Just writing can help you find your way. But first you’ve got to find the time. It’s not just about getting up early in the morning or staying up late into the night. It’s about finding the 15 minutes here, an hour there. Like this quote from Chuck Wendig that sums up how we must look at finding time to write. “Reach! Grab! Steal the minutes and hours back from the mouth of the Time Beast. Even a little time reclaimed will let you do that thing you want to do.”
There’s a clue for step three.
3. Talk about your writing.
No, seriously. Try telling people you are a writer. Their first question will either be: “What do you write?” or “What are you working on?” If your answer is awkward silence, something is wrong. Sometimes, the best form of motivation is being held accountable. It may start with other people, but eventually it’ll be you keeping yourself accountable to your writing.
But what if you don’t want to be accountable to the world?
Find a writing group or circle. The best thing I ever did was join a writer’s group. I can’t always go because of other commitments, but I still get questions from my fellow writers about what I’m working on. Sometimes the only answer is a fat lot of squat, but that just motivates me to get back to it. Their emails and Facebook messages make me realize that I do want to have something to show at the next meeting. A smart, lit-savvy bunch of writers is also a great place to get smart commentary for your work.
What if a group is still too much for you?
5. Have a writing partner.
Maybe this person isn’t the person who writes on the same script or story, but they are the one person who gets to see your words, even if they are not quite as organized as you’d like. For the motivation, you need at least one person to see what you’re doing. Share your crap, and you’ll find yourself writing more. Most importantly, you’ll start writing better.
When the right people are involved, they’ll raise the stakes and your standards.