8 Ways to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated

Stay motivated and on track with Sage Weidner’s eight tips for writing each day, every day. Over to you, Sage.

I’ll come right out and admit I’m a procrastinator, so most of the time sitting down to write isn’t enough. The internet is always looming in the background, calling me with its hours and hours of cat videos and celebrity gossip.

What’s even harder than writing every day is getting back to it when you miss a day. Once you’ve broken the chain, it’s hard to get it back together again. You might think something along the lines of, “One more day off won’t hurt.”

But the more times you say that to yourself, the harder it gets to get back on track. The highest I ever got with my Write Chain was 74 days and then I didn’t write for a week. Every day that I looked at the computer, it seemed harder and harder to think about sitting down and writing. So, if you’ve fallen off the writing train and you’re running to catch up to it again, here are a few helpful tips for getting on and staying on.

Go Easy On Yourself

If something forced you to skip writing for a day or two—work, school, family—don’t stress out about it. If you were too tired, that’s okay, too. No one can run at 100% all the time. The most important thing is getting back to it and not spending time feeling guilty about it. It’s daunting to be back at zero days of writing, but the days add up amazingly fast. The second you write, you’re already on your first day again!

Be Reasonable

If you only have a half hour to write every day, don’t set your goal at 2000 words a day. That’s setting yourself up for failure, no matter how quickly you can type. Remember that with Write Chain you can also set daily time goals (which is what I do personally) rather than word count goals. It’s a nice way of doing things if you plan to do a lot of outlining, since outlines in general have a smaller word count, now matter how much time you put into them.

Get Physical

Make your chain more than just words on a computer screen. If you have a bunch of paperclips lying around, make an actual chain out of them. Paperclip chains are by far my favorite, because it’s a real pain to take apart a long paperclip chain. However, it can get a bit unwieldy once you’ve had your Write Chain going for more than a few weeks, so you might choose something else. Giving yourself a gold star for every day you write doesn’t take up much more space than a piece of paper and you can grab a pack of 500 gold star stickers for a dollar or two. Having a physical version of the chain helps to make breaking the chain more dramatic—making you less likely to break it.

Word Sprints

I have written a crazy amount of words during word sprints, even when I wasn’t really in the mood to write. Of course, I’m also a bit competitive, so it might just be that I can’t handle losing a sprint (whether or not it’s an actual competition).

The best thing about word sprints is they’re available all day long. They’re on Twitter (@TheSprintShack and @GetWordies both run them on a regular basis) and on the NaNoWriMo forums. You can create one with your friends or with some people online. You can find them anywhere, anytime, and if there aren’t any running, it’s super easy to start one. If you think you might back out because you’re suffering from writer’s block, make sure you say hello to everyone before it starts. A little chitchat beforehand can go a long way in helping to kick-start things and hopefully make you less likely to skip out during the sprint itself.

Reward Yourself

I wouldn’t go so far as to say don’t eat dinner until you hit your goal—trust me, I’ve tried that before and eventually you just get too hungry to listen to yourself, much less write—but if there’s a small thing you’re itching to do, put it off until you hit your goal for the day.

Create a Pattern

Have a playlist you write to on a regular basis. If you don’t like to write with music, find something else to do every time you write. Maybe sit somewhere different than you do for regular computer use. Get a notebook you only use for your writing. The brain looks for patterns in everything, so it’s important to create a noticeable pattern for anything you plan to do daily.

Tell a Friend

If you can’t motivate yourself, get someone else to do it for you. Tell your friends about your writing. Having someone asking you about what you’ve written recently can be a great motivator. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve considered not writing anything until someone asked how my current project was going. It’s a subtle reminder that, yes, I totally have something I should be working on right now.

Get A Life!

No, I’m not insulting you. Writing is hard to do if you don’t do anything else. Find something you love to do and go do it. If you’re itching to read about the latest gadgets, read about them. If you want to go for a hike, grab some friends and go (or go alone, if that’s how you roll). Everything you do can, and probably will, eventually lead to some sort of idea you can use in your writing. So get out and do something!

Just be sure to come back to writing when you’re done.