I think we both have very similar stories in regard to where we are with ‘breaking in’ to the industry. It’s safe to say that life hasn’t turned out exactly how we planned, as we happened to live through some major historical events. The job market has always been vicious, especially when it comes to creative industries. The sad truth is that for a large portion of us, trying to find our way into a creative role has taken a backseat to a more ‘mundane’ job which provides for the time being. That being said, we still very much hope to have a breakthrough in that regard, hopefully soon.
So how do we stay motivated to write when the industry is so vicious? Read on as we discuss tips we feel work well to keep us motivated!
How do we stay motivated?
Feeling motivated to write (or not as the case may be) is all part of that wider writing process. But here are things that may help:
Make time – If you want to do something, you’ll make the time to do it. If your friends suggest a brunch on a Saturday afternoon, most of us will carve out time to go and have the brunch. If you’re wanting to go to the gym after work, you will make that time to do the spin class or lift the weights. The same needs to be done with writing. You want to write, so make the time. And no, the irony is not lost on me that from pitching to publishing, this article has taken a little while to put together owing to general adulting and life stuff. Perhaps I should follow my own tips a little more closely in future!
I second this so much. There are only so many hours in the day and adulthood is a never-ending cycle of chores and commitments. However, everyone has their priorities and if something is important to them, they will make the time for it within reason. The important thing is that it doesn’t have to be a massive chunk of your day. Sure, there will be days/weeks where you might have the energy to fly off the page. But there will be times where you will have ten minutes to do a quick scribble or edit a paragraph. Take that chance. Any progress is good progress.
Work out your most productive time – This goes hand in hand with the make time tip. Try out writing at a few different times throughout the day for different lengths of time, this way you’ll work out what’s best for you. This might be waking up at 5am for three mornings a week and writing for two hours before getting ready and heading out to work. This might be at 8pm for an hour every night. This might be after a Saturday morning dog walk from 10am-3pm. You’ll come to know what is your best time to write.
Even though early birds are encouraged in our society, I personally always found my mind at its fullest of ideas in the late afternoon/evening. It’s important to figure out when you personally feel most creatively productive, but keep in mind it won’t always be the same. Seasons, weirdly enough, might also have an effect on it – some find it more efficient when the weather is nice and some are the complete opposite. Each to their own.
Work out the place where you can be most productive – This might be the kitchen table, as life goes on around you. This might be an upstairs office with the door closed and a strongly worded ‘do not disturb’ note on the door. This might be on a comfy armchair in your favourite coffee shop. Like with timings, try and work in a few different places and see where it is that you get the most work done.
As with time, the places might not always be the same. There are days where you might need complete silence and others where some background noise is essential. One thing is for sure – whatever conditions you write under, try not to have any distractions that would cause you to procrastinate. It’s human nature to find distractions (especially nowadays with people’s goldfish-equivalent attention spans – I myself am guilty of this) but try to fight the impulse to wander off from your workstation, wherever it is.
Set yourself a goal – So, once you’ve made time to write, and found your perfect time and place to get the job done, set yourself little goals at the beginning of each writing ‘session’. Perhaps you could start with the overarching goal. For most of us, this will be some sort of entity and the finished article. A book, a screenplay, a comic – whatever it may be. Once you’ve established that, think about manageable chunks that are easily achievable in a writing ‘session’; research this issue that’ll be explored in the book, plan out and write character biographies for each character, write 2,000 words, write 5 chapters. These goals can be a marker of progress made and, as you come to see how much you have done, will motivate you and encourage you to continue with your project.
A very good point. Keep in mind that your goal doesn’t have to be the same every day/week/month. Sometimes you might feel more inspired to do some editing even though you said you’d research a topic and vice versa – don’t fight it! In the end, also don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t hit whatever your goal was on a certain day – some is always better than none in writing. Of course, if not reaching your goal becomes a habit, perhaps review the previous points and see if everything’s hitting the right note for you so to speak.
On the other hand – if you’re not writing as much as you want to, look at other ways that aren’t focused on you actually writing that can also motivate you. Life happens! Even with the effort to make time to write, sometimes it just isn’t possible or is tricky to execute and this is okay! If that’s me, I like to focus on reading – specifically authors or genres I love – or watching one of my favourite shows. It reminds me how much I want to be writing in that genre or for that show and motivates me to get back into writing. Writing and reading go hand-in-hand, so if you aren’t writing but you’re reading – that is still doing something.
This is such a good insight. Sure, some exceptions might exist but more often than not, to be a good writer, you have to read. Now, what you read entirely depends on what you wish to create – or who knows, sometimes you might want to branch out and try something different. Even reading just for fun and not for any research purpose still exercises your mind and can provide inspiration. I know after reading a good book (good to me at least), I always feel more inspired to go back to my works in progress.
Rest is also important. Often the best work is done when you step away from the work for a while at the end of a draft and come back to it a week, two or longer later with a pair of fresh eyes. This can also motivate you to continue with it. A difficult draft or writing section that makes you hate its very existence and the fact you had the idea in the first place? Entirely normal. Step away. You’ll be back, with fresh eyes and a renewed motivation to overcome the trickiness and get the job done – and the job done well!
Overall, the most important thing is to know what you want to achieve and setting out a realistic plan to work towards that goal. Now, life does get in the way and there’s nothing wrong with that (at least that’s what we tell ourselves). The creative industry is hard to get into but it’s as important as anything else. What do we turn to when we need to escape our daily lives? A riveting book/movie/TV show. What do we turn to when we need to cathartically let out our emotions? Our favourite songs. What do we turn to when we’re looking to feel sophisticated? That West End show everyone’s been talking about. In short, we turn to the arts, whatever shape it comes to us. So if you have something in your mind asking to be set free, do it. You never know who you might help in the process, including yourself.