My #1 Tip for Maintaining a Successful Writing Routine

Does waning motivation kill your writing routine? Kristen Kieffer, my wonderful guest today, shares her #1 tip for determining your personal wellspring of motivation. Over to you, Kristen.

Struggling to keep your writing routine running smoothly?

Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Maintaining my own routine used to be a hair-pulling experience until one little resource changed my life forever. What was it?

A personality test.

Sounds crazy, right? Hear me out. A few weeks ago, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and discovered that I have an INFJ personality. When reviewing the comprehensive results of my test, one item in particular stuck out to me.

According to the assessment, I was motivated to achieve tasks based on anticipated external appreciation. In other words, knowing that my work might impact lives—and that those I impact might offer up praise—motivates me to complete projects. In addition to validating my previous work, that same praise also motivates me to begin working on something new.

At first, this assessment of my personality bothered me. “It says that all I care about is other people’s opinions. That is so shallow!” I thought. But after reviewing the rest of my assessment results, I realized that the source of my motivation actually stems from the fact that I enjoy creating for others, that impacting others’ lives brings me great joy.

And as such, I am naturally motivated when my completed projects—be they novels, blog posts, ebooks, etc.—are spoken of highly by readers.

Realizing this, I took what I knew about the source of my motivation and began applying it to my life by sharing my work more often in public, asking for feedback from trustworthy friends, and meditating on the encouraging words people sent my way.

And you know what? This practice eased my struggle to maintain a writing routine immensely. Just this month, I’ve completed far more work than I have in ages. Simply put, my productivity has skyrocketed. And yours can, too!

Don’t have time to take the full Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? Today, I’ll break down the four main sources of motivation and reveal how you can use your own to better maintain a writing routine.

The Four Main Motivation Sources

Though motivation can come from many places, four main sources stand out from the crowd.

You’ve already read about how anticipated external appreciation can serve as motivation, but did you know that the simple thrill of achievement, the expectation of reward, and the prospect of personal improvement can do the same?

Those who are motivated by the thrill of achievement are the engineers, the people who always have a project ongoing. They will tinker with their work despite having no plans to put it to use, share it with the public, or sell it simply because they enjoy the process of making and creating, so much so that they get antsy when they don’t have anything new to work on.

The expectation of reward is another strong motivator. As kids, those who favor this source weren’t the type who wrote spectacular research papers to make the grade; they did it because their moms bribed them with a trip to their favorite ice cream shop. As adults, the prospect of making money or indulging in a guilty pleasure drives these reward-seekers to get to work.

Finally, some people are motivated by the prospect of personal improvement, meaning that they want to see how completing a certain project will improve their skills or better them as human beings. Unlike those who seek the thrill of achievement, those motivated by personal improvement might complete a project they have no real interest in simply because it will make them more well-rounded.

Rock Your Routine

Have an idea of which source of motivation drives you to take action? Here’s how you can use this knowledge to achieve your writing goals:

Anticipated External Appreciation

As I mentioned above, the best way to use the anticipation of external appreciation to your advantage is to start putting your work in front of the public. Though you may receive constructive criticism (which never hurts, though it might not be exactly what you’re looking for), you’ll also receive kind words from those who recognize your passion and want to see you succeed.

When genuine compliments are thrown your way, make sure to thank the giver from the bottom of your heart. Show readers that their words mean the world to you, and they’ll continue to lift you up. It might also be a worthwhile activity to save the messages that impact you the most. When you’re having an uninspired day, you can read over these messages for an instant shot of motivation.

Thrill of Achievement

If you’re motivated by the thrill of achievement, you probably don’t have a problem maintaining your writing routine. Hitting your goal day after day isn’t so much of a challenge for you as it is a way of life. In fact, if you didn’t reach your goal on a particular day, you’d probably feel pretty off-kilter.

But in order to truly thrive in your writing routine, you need to continuously find new ways to challenge yourself. To do so, try writing in varied genres, age markets, and styles of fiction (e.g. short stories, flash fiction, novels, etc.). Branch out as often as possible, and you’ll achieve far more than if you stuck with a single style.

Expectation of Reward

If you are motivated by the expectation of reward, there’s a simple, two-step method you can use to better maintain your writing routine. First, set a goal and deadline for your work. For example, you might choose to write every day for a week or to write 20,000 words in a single month.

Once you’ve chosen your goal and deadline, it’s time to pick a reward. Try to choose a reward that matches the amount of effort you will have to put forth in order to achieve your goal. For example, you might treat yourself to your favorite frilly coffee drink and a pastry after writing every day for a week, but if you complete your monthly writing goal, you might kick it up a notch by buying those killer concert tickets you’ve been drooling over.

Using this method should help you to stick with your writing routine. Just make sure to stay true to your reward—only indulging if you complete your goal—or else your motivation will fall short.

Prospect of Personal Improvement

If the prospect of personal improvement gets your blood pumping, I recommend setting aside a few minutes before beginning a new project to write a journal entry. In this entry, take note of why you believe your next project will help your personal improvement. If you ever feel your motivation waning while at work, look back on this journal entry to remind yourself of why you wanted to complete the project in the first place.

If you’re feeling especially dedicated to personal growth, also consider keeping a daily or weekly journal charting your improvement progress. This will help you see patterns in your work that could lead to further improvement.

Unsure which source of motivation describes you? Don’t be afraid to try out each motivation style for a few weeks at a time. You may also find it helpful to combine techniques to achieve the best results. Once you nail down what works best for you, sit back and watch as your writing routine flourishes.

Enjoyed this post? Pop on over to the Guest Writerologist archives for more expert advice from knowledgable writers.