Writing Advice: Tips for Staying Motivated
By Emma Evans
I just need to write one more page….
Ever been there? Me too! Ever spent hours staring at a blank notebook or screen hoping some words will magically land on the page? Me too! Most of us have probably been there. You’ve thought up an idea for a piece that you’ve loved, researched, and planned it…then, right in the middle of said writing (or maybe before you even start!), you’re struggling to produce another line, let alone finish the whole thing. Usually, I find writer’s block has a lot to answer for when this has happened to me.
To help us out with staring at the dreaded blank screens and notebooks, I have put together some tips from me (and a tip or two from friends of mine!) to write one more page and stay motivated to finish what you’re writing.
Plan For Every Eventuality…
This is a tip one of my writers’ group members gave to me. Before you’ve even written anything and are still planning, come up with three alternate endings that are feasible and would work in your story. If you can, share these endings with people who will be able to tell you which one works/they like best. Alternatively, when you come to writing the ending, choose the one you want to write the most (as long as it still fits and is a feasible ending to the rest of your story) and write that! If you want to write something (in this example, the ending) chances are that you will find it easier.
Break Down into Smaller Chunks
This tip may be fairly self-explanatory; however, it is a very useful one! Tell yourself you’ll write a line, a paragraph, a scene, half a page, a full page.
Setting yourself achievable goals, however big or small, will help! Make it manageable for you and the time you have available to write something. In my experience, the smaller the page/word count (within reason!) the more likely I am to sit and write until I hit it.
It’s not the Finished Product
This may not be your final draft. This could be your first, second, third even. I’m particularly talking more so here if this is your first draft or an early draft, but remember editing is your friend (or frenemy depending on your opinion of editing and its enjoyment levels, I guess)! Just get what you want to write down on the paper and don’t worry about what’s being written on the paper too much. If it works and is how you want it to be written – great! If not, you can always edit sections and change bits around. Making the leap from a blank Word doc or notebook page to actual words written on it can often seem the most daunting part.
Write What You Want
This is arguably a really obvious tip and one I briefly touched on above. You’re not in the mood to write the next scene in your plan? Then don’t. (Yet!) You’ll probably need to tackle it at some point but write something you actually want to write in the moment you sit down to write.
Create the middle first, the ending second and the beginning last if you want to. It can all be organised into the right order at a later date, so just write whichever sections of the plan you feel like on that particular day.
If you are excited about the massive fight scene in the middle of the story, write that first.
If you feel like writing the final paragraph of the piece, write that.
At this particular point in time, you might not feel like writing the scene that sets up the big centrepiece of your story because you just want to get to said centrepiece, but you loosely write something – knowing you can change it – and two weeks later, you actually want to write/edit the scene setting up the big centrepiece of your story.
Put the Pen/Laptop Down and Step Away…
Go and find something else to do for half an hour, an hour, however long you may need. Five minutes even might change your mood and make you feel ready to write.
Read a chapter of the book you’re currently reading/watch an episode or two of your favourite show/go for a walk in the fresh air. If you feel like you can only take a quick five-minute break, just get up and make a drink before coming back to your piece.
It’s okay too, if you need longer than five minutes or an hour away from your writing. Come back to it in a day or two and you’ll look at it again with completely fresh (and probably rested!) eyes.
That’s What Friends are For!
Talking to people may not be everyone’s favourite idea, but it will help you! Another tip from the friends in my writers’ group was to run ideas past your friends/writers’ group/ someone you can talk with and explain your ideas to because it can help you order things and set it concrete in your mind so it’s easier to get down on paper.
(I did the same thing when thinking about what to write here! So, from experience, it really does help. And thank your said friends!)
It’s important to remember that things will be written and eventually you will have a finished piece of writing. It might just take a little longer than you expected or wanted. That’s okay. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself while you’re writing. If you do find yourself lacking the motivation to finish the piece you’re working on, try one of the above tips – you never know, it might make a difference.