Saturday, May 23, 2020

Writing can be hard. Especially for writers. Motivation comes and goes like a butterfly on the wind.

In Colum McCann’s Letters to a Young Writer he states: “A writer is not someone who thinks obsessively about writing, or talks about it, or plans it, or disects it, or even reveres it: a writer is the one who puts his arse in the chair when the last thing he wants to do is have his arse in the chair.”

Here are 5 things to try, to help you keep your “arse in the chair” and stay motivated to write.

Find your space.

This may take you some time and a little bit of trial and error, but knowing what works for you is a first step in staying motivated. As you experiment and look for your space, think of your five senses and what you personally need to stay focused to write.

I need a visually clean, appealing space, fresh air/comforting scent, silence/soft music, a full stomach, a floor desk so I can sit cross legged, and a comfortable temperature.

I’ve found that my bedroom ticks all my boxes. I have my floor desk near a window for fresh air, candles and a blanket ready if it's cold out, I keep it clean and tidy, and I make sure my stomach is taken care of before I begin.

Maybe you work best alone too. Maybe you work best surrounded by people. Try a park, a coffee shop, a nature walk, a cafe. Feel the difference between a computer and pen and paper. Noise and silence. Standing vs. sitting. Find what feels right. And don’t be afraid to take the journey again if it stops working!

Make It A Priority.

This one is essential to staying motivated, and quite possibly the hardest one to accomplish. Making writing a priority in your life, especially for beginners, can feel selfish or frivolous. It is not! We live in a culture that has taught us that if we do not get immediate or monetary results then it isn’t worthy of our time. BS!

Write because you love to write! You don’t need permission from society or someone else to make this a priority in your life. Give yourself permission. And don’t allow shame or guilt to talk you out of it.

Pay for a babysitter! Let the kids watch TV for an hour. Leave the chores undone. It’s okay.

Inhale.

One of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle, said in her book Love Warrior: “Reading is my inhale, writing is my exhale.”

Yeah, let that sink in.
We all need to inhale before we can exhale. Read. If you feel like you don’t have time, listen to audio books. Don’t just read the comfortable easy stuff. Read that and more. Read the hard stuff. Read about things you know nothing about.

In addition to reading, talk to people. Push the conversation deeper. Talk to people you don’t know. Different than you people. Ask questions. Experience intellectual conflict. Be open minded. Inhale. Exhale.

We don’t do it to become experts on certain subjects. We do it to dissect. To explore. To understand bits of the world, bits of ourselves. To feel uncomfortable. To understand why.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Find Your Person or People

Sister is my person. Before her I kept my writing to myself exclusively. I would only share it if I was in a class and had to.

Sister is my confidant. Nothing I write about scares her away. She is my encouragement. She pushes me to share with others, to finish, to create, to go deeper. Sister is my proofreader. She gives me honest feedback and a fresh perspective.

Find a person. Or a group. But find them. Moving outside of yourself will hold you accountable and propel you forward. Sharing with someone you trust will allow you to taste vulnerability without getting burned. The burning will come later, but you will be ready because you have your people.

Share Your Talent

This goes beyond your people. This is the burning. This is not a taste of vulnerability anymore, this is the whole enchilada.

I say “Share Your Talent” because you don’t need to wait for a finished product to get yourself and your work out there. Sign up for a writing group, a contest, become a contributor on a blog. Commit to something that will push you to write! That commitment and accountability is a huge motivator.

It doesn’t really matter how or where you share your writing. Just that you do.

Don’t wait to get paid to share. Don’t wait for the perfect storm of recognition and audience. Just put it out there. Print it out and ask some friends to read it. Start a blog just for your work. Just get it out into the universe!

The criticism, encouragement, rejection and confidence you will experience by sharing your talent and your work will build you into a better writer, prepare you for more feels to come, and motivate you to keep going.

When it all comes down to it persistence is key. Just don’t stop. No matter what.

To be a writer, you must write. Write everyday. Write junk. Write about why you don’t want to write. Write until something amazing happens, and if it doesn’t, keep writing. As Colum McCann states: “Just keep your arse in the chair. Arse in the chair. Arse in the chair.”


Amy Jorgensen is a Word Addict and is currently working on her first novel. Learn more about Amy HERE.

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