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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Keeping Your Motivation Up

A close writer friend of mine recently told me she had no idea how I manage to write so fast and keep my motivation up so consistently. Last year I wrote and thoroughly edited three books and this year my goal is to do the same. My friend's question got me to thinking about motivation and keeping the fire burning. It isn't always easy, and it comes more easily to some. Why is that and how can you get a few coals of that motivation to put on your fire? I don't know a magic spell or drink that will do it but I'll tell you my secrets and hopefully they will give you some ideas.

First my biggest secret, I let myself write a rough draft~a complete rough draft. I don't stop part way through and second guess myself or start editing and making small changes here and there. That disrupts the momentum and ruins the flow of the story from mind to computer. Once that flow is disrupted sometimes it never starts again. Don't disrupt it! Resist the urge to edit until you've reached the very end of your manuscript. I know the look on a few of your faces, I know you're thinking of disregarding this advice~don't! You wanted my biggest secret, there it is.

The second big secret is this, write every day, even if it's only a little bit. Positive word count is better than no word count. I try to write three pages a day but you don't have to do that much. Write a page, or even a paragraph, something to keep your mind on your story. A page a day get's the average book written within a year and that's a respectable goal. You don't have to live up to everyone else's timelines and goals, just your own. Set weekly goals and reward yourself.

Of course there are the other big things I've talked about in the past, knowing the heart of your story, outlining, and character development. I hope some of this helps demystify how I do it and gives you a few ideas you can use!

For more help check out this article from Writer's Digest on staying motivated.
 
Share your ideas! I'd love to hear how you keep your motivation up.

13 comments:

  1. Heather, you are so motivated! And...your motivation keeps me going. Also I think it's making time to write. Not an option. Because, if we love to write...the process is a joy. However I think when work gets too much, life gets too much, we don't give ourselves the luxury. How could I be writing when the yard needs to be weeded? My key... make time. Sometimes that means getting up in the wee hours of the morning. Believe me...hours have been tight lately. Thanks for your continued motivation. It's so much easier to be motivated with a buddy!

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  2. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who tends to "write fast" my critique group teases me. "Oops I blinked and Lisa wrote another novel." It's the starting that trips me up. I have about 5 started novels on my hardrive. Maybe I'll come back to them but if I'm not feelin' the spark.. I think I finally have an exciting new idea though so wish me luck!

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  3. Heather, your big secret is the best one! I struggle with this, as I try to get most of the kinks out before writing. I'm trying to solve every problem in order to avoid monster revisions. But I should just do it already, and fix it in revision!

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  4. That first one about writing a complete rough draft is key. I'm at a point right now with my current project where I think I need to go back and fix everything because I feel like it's a mess. Part of me says I should get to the end first, but the other part thinks that would be a waste of time since I'm pretty sure that I'm not on the right track with this one.

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  5. So true Karlene, those of us who don't get to write full time often see it as a luxury and don't make as much time for it. I see it as an investment of my time. And I love being your writing buddy! I wouldn't have it any other way! Any of you who need help with that motivation just look me up!

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  6. Yay Lisa! Another speedy writer! Some call us obsessed but I prefer to think of us as focused! Good luck with your exciting new idea, that's fantastic!

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  7. I know exactly what you mean Julie and Alissa, it's the hardest thing to do! The tendency to fix our babies when they need it is powerful. Best of luck to both of you, you can do it!

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  8. Cheerleaders like YOU keep my motivation up!

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  9. I also draft without stopping. Some people advise to stop and revise + edit, but that would throw a wrench in my process.

    I find that even when I'm unmotivated, I'll still attempt to get writing done everyday. Once I see the progress, that becomes a boost of motivation.

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  10. Aw, thanks Myra! I'm glad I could help!

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  11. I know how you feel Medeia. If I stopped to revise I'd probably never get done. Worse yet, I'd probably sidetrack the story. I never know exactly where it's going to go until the first draft is done. It would be a waste of time for me to edit before that! Progress is my motivation too, it's why I keep a progress bar on my blog!

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  12. For me it's about not staying away so long that self-doubt can set in. I let myself breathe for a day or two but never more than that. I remind myself that my goal is publication and the only way to get there is to finish what I started. If I meander, that's ok, but I must get back on track. On those days, I'll kick start with a small word goal and often end up surprising myself with more words than I intended.

    I think discovering my process has helped enormously. I don't beat myself up by trying to 'keep up with the Joneses'.

    Great post, Heather!

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  13. I'm the same way JL! I don't like to leave it so long that I lose focus or momentum. Just like you, my end goal keeps pushing me!

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