Finding ways to stay motivated can be a little harder for online writers since they don’t work in an office environment where the assignments and deadlines are handed to them. So having a ready set of self-motivators can help online writers stay on track.
By Joan Whetzel
We all need to make money to put a roof over our heads, to support our families, and to provide a few of those little extras that keep life fun and interesting. The need for money is probably the number one motivator for any job, including writing. The next top motivator for writing is the need to write and the love of writing. Beyond that, what motivates writers to show up at their writing desk, especially when they don’t feel motivated to write, will probably vary from writer to writer and from day to day for each writer.
One way writers can motivate themselves is to do some spend some time looking for ideas. Places to look for ideas might include:
· Mining your interests. If you enjoy cooking, sewing, photography, woodworking, alligator hunting…whatever your outside hobbies and skills maybe, these make great motivators to write about something you know.
· Looking at the questions people are asking. Check out the writing sites and social networking sites that you post to for questions that people are asking. Also eavesdrop on conversations and listen for the questions people ask or for what’s on their mind. These ideas and questions may become motivators to write on those topics.
· Looking at what other writers are publishing. Investigate the topics, short stories, poetry, and even scripts that other writers are writing. Then ask yourself, “What do these pieces of writing suggest?” Make a list of new ideas, spin-offs, or new angles that will motivate you to write.
· Making a list of things you always wanted to know. What better motivator is there than wanting to know something? Sometimes the most fascinating articles and book chapters come from investigating what you don’t know. The very act of finding out something new makes most people want to share that newfound information with others, and there’s no better motivator for a writer than that.
· Looking to politics, current events and the news. They say life is stranger than fiction. In fact, politics, current events and the all those curious, outrageous, strange, and horrible things that occur every day can make for some timely motivators when it comes to writing. Get up early watch the local news at 4:30 or 5:00 AM, making a list of the news stories that occurred over night while you were sleeping. Then read through the list and just see how many of them motivate you to run to your writing desk and get to work.
· Re-Using previous research. Once you do research for any story, keep the information from the research in a file someplace so that it can be re-used for other stories. This will include a list of websites and their URLs, books, and newspaper or magazine articles. Also create your own version of a library vertical file containing the newspaper and magazine clippings used in previous research. When needing some motivation, go through the previous research and those clippings to see what strikes you anew, what motivates you to create another story or book.
· Re-Writing an old story. Sometimes going through older material that you’ve written can be a motivator. The older stories may have been published, or not. Either way, take another look at them with a critical eye. Have your viewpoints changed? Is the research now out of date? Could this story use some updating? Could more information be added that wasn’t available when you first wrote it? Do the characters in that piece fiction need some more personality? Taking another look at any of your old story can motivate you to tweak it then re-publish it, or for unpublished pieces, send it on its rounds with the publishers to get published for the first time.
Once you have some ideas, do some brainstorming. See how many additional stories or book chapters can be created from these ideas. Finding enough to write a book or a series of articles make for fine writing motivation.
Setting a Schedule
Setting a schedule is all it takes sometimes to get motivated to write. Some writers need daily schedules others need weekly schedules. These schedules should include a minimum amount of writing time, before you can take a break, say for lunch or even to take day off.. Keeping to a schedule motivates those writers who need a routine.
Setting a Minimum Word Count, Chapter Count or Story Count
Setting minimum word counts, chapter counts or story counts – either daily or weekly – works similar to setting a schedule. The difference is that it’s based on quantity or work output rather than time. Like the schedule, it’s the routine that motivates the writer.
Writing for Sites that Offer Assignments
Sites like Demand Studio or Interact Media that provide writing topics and assignments for writers are a form of motivator for some writers. They don’t have to come up with all of their ideas and they have a readymade publishing site to sell the story to, provided it meets their criteria. If this type of writing motivates you to keep writing on a wide variety of subjects, than by all means, look into it.
Rewarding Yourself for Reaching Your Goals
Rewarding yourself for meeting your daily and weekly goals makes for a wonderful motivational technique. Some of the rewards might include:
· Going on a weekly play day or artist’s date after you’ve met your weekly schedule or word counts.
· Going to a movie after you’ve completed 3 chapters in your next book.
· Taking a mini-vacation once you’ve completed your book or had a particularly prolific run of article writing.
However you do work reward system, make sure your set of goals is not too easy yet not so overwhelmingly huge that you’re tempted to give up before you can reach them. Your goals must be achievable within a reasonable amount of time. The list of rewards must be commensurate with the goals to be reached. In other words, if you goal is to write one 1,000 word article by lunchtime, the reward might be allowing yourself to play online card games for about 15 to 30 minutes. On the other hand, if your goal is to complete the first draft of your novel in 2 weeks, your reward might me dinner at the local steak house and a movie or show.
Above all, if you fail to meet your goals, kick the guilt-monster to the curb. There’s no demotivator than guilt over the failure to meet your goals. Look at what you have accomplished in the allotted time frame. also take into account the myriad ways that life may have intruded on your writing time. Like it or not, kids get sick (so do writers for that matter), carpool drivers sometimes have emergencies and requiring you to pick up the slack, you don’t always hear about those school projects until the last minute, and sometimes your friends have problems and just need to talk. Life doesn’t stop just because you need to write. Take these into account before berating yourself for not writing and give yourself a pat on the back for all that you did accomplish despite the setbacks. Then get back to work and back on schedule next week. Getting back on the horse, so to speak. How’s that for a motivator?