7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write

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Photo by Anthony PC

Photo by Anthony PC

It hardly ever fails. Just when you sit down to write, no matter how long you’ve been waiting for the chance, you suddenly feel like doing anything else.

Check Facebook. Watch Netflix. Clean toilet.

Part of it is being tired. I know. Most of us are writing in the wee spare hours between the full-time job, school, cooking, cleaning, child-rearing and whatnot.

But if you wait to feel like writing, you never will. If you wait for inspiration to find you, it never will. You have to make it happen.

Here are some ways to do that.

1. Publicly commit to a deadline

There’s nothing like accountability. If I wasn’t committed to posting on this blog every Monday and Friday, you’d probably never hear from me. Make your own commitment by meeting regularly with a writer’s group or a critique partner, or try signing up for NaNoWriMo or the 3-Day Novel contest (please note I recommend spending considerable time after these writing marathons editing your work).

2. Keep a favorite book close

Is there a particular book that always gives you the urge to put pen to paper? Keep it close to your writing space and read a few pages when you sit down to write. I find great motivation in Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief and Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.

3. Train your brain

Develop a routine: Choose the same time to write every day (when your mind is freshest, if possible). Listen to the same type of music, drink the same type of tea, light the same scented candle – or all three. In time, the sensory repetition will help to trigger that writing urge in you.

4. Escape from the Internet

Web 2.0 has turned the Information Age into the Distraction Age. Remove yourself completely from the temptation to surf by taking your laptop to a place without Wi-Fi, or just use a notebook or old school typewriter (don’t you love the sound anyway?).

5. Take the hint

If you can’t get the motivation to write because you’re just bored with it, chances are your readers will be bored with it, too. Find a more interesting way to tell the story. Revisit your plot to find opportunities to increase drama and decrease exposition.

6. Get your 8 hours and drink a cup

I’ve heard some people don’t need a full 8 hours of sleep per night, but personally, I function much better after 8 hours of sleep vs. even 7. And when you’ve had a full night’s rest, caffeine doesn’t just resuscitate your zombie self – it makes you want to write and create and be generally brilliant at turbo speed. NOTE: I decrease my coffee consumption throughout the week (e.g. one cup Monday, down to a quarter cup on Friday, another full cup the following Monday) so I don’t have to keep upping the dose to get the same “buzz.” This method also prevents caffeine headaches if you go a day without it.

7. Visualize the finished piece

I know this sounds rather hippie-zen, but it’s actually pretty powerful. Do you want to be just working on this book forever? Or do you want to hold the hardcover edition in your hands with your own name staring back at you in glorious black and white?

Thanks to Spider42 for suggesting this topic. Want a topic you want talked about? Drop it in the Suggestion Box!


7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write

About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.
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  1. As always, thankyou for for your words of wisdom.

  2. Great advice! My biggest problem right now is being distracted by the Internet.

  3. These are great. I could use motivation tips right about now, and I think a few of these will help me today!

  4. I’ve got a pretty varied work schedule right now, so #3 is something I long for. I am much more productive when I can sit down at 3 in the afternoon with my tea and quiet in the house (haven’t tried candles yet) than I am after dinner when it’s too late for caffeine and there’s a radio or TV filtering in from somewhere in the house.

    I grew up writing everything long-hand, so I’ve tried really hard in the past couple of years to train myself to draft directly on the computer instead of wasting all that paper. However, as you mention in #4, there are too many ways to get distracted on the computer. Even “research” turns into a quick Facebook scan, or an endless hop from link to link, website to website. I see myself eventually giving up and returning to my roots, a spiral-bound notebook and my favorite pen du jour.

    • Stephanie Orges

      I know what you mean. I try to take all day Saturday for writing (though other things like laundry do creep in). I usually sit down at the computer around eleven, but it takes a long time for me to get into the swing, rereading the piece so far, plotting, etc., etc. It might be three or four o’clock before I really get going. Since it’s only one day a week, I can’t really get into the habit. *SIGH* On the other hand, I’m writing copy the rest of the week, and I jump into that around nine thirty or ten every morning with a cup of coffee.

      Meh. Writing is far from a waste of paper. As long as you recycle it once you’ve typed it up. I recommend buying notebooks in late summer/early fall when school supplies go on sale. Sometimes you can find spiral notebooks for ten cents apiece! I’ve got a stack of them in my closet about a foot high.

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  6. Yes, mother… 😉
    Seven is the only one I really can’t figure out how to do. Maybe I am not trying hard enough, or maybe I am too scared of the final result. I love stimulating writing mood through scents, something I’ve done instinctively since I started writing. I never thought of it as creating a pattern, though. Smells being so strongly woven with mood and memory, it’s a powerful tactic. Thank you for mentioning it!

    • Stephanie Orges

      Hmmmm. Maybe visualization just isn’t your thing? I just think about the fact that I’ve been working on this thing for more than a decade, and don’t really have anything solid to show for it. Nothing I can put into someone’s hands and say “Here is the product of countless hours of labor.” It’s almost like it only exists in my own head. I have to finish it to prove I’m not insane.

      But you’re right. It does have a scary side. I’m afraid when I show it to someone (outside the small circle of people who’ve seen older drafts) that they’ll read it and think “THIS is what she spent all that time sweating over? Really?”

      • Ok, I promise I am taking an internet hiatus, after I reply to this. 😉

        “I have to finish it to prove I’m not insane.” Now that is something I can relate to. I feel like, if I don’t manage to write this, then the window I have into another world will close and I will be the only one who has ever really seen into it, and that would be sad.

        I, for one, can’t wait to read your story, so hurry up.

  7. I wish I could afford a typewriter – and being forced to retype everything for submission would only be positive. At the moment it’s my editing process that prompts me to write. I’ll excise a phrase or paragraph that I really love, but doesn’t quite work…and end up wanting to use it again, so I write a whole new story.

    I’ve taken to using the Woody Allen technique of editing – take a pair of scissors and cut out the paragraphs (although I do it by sentences.) Those that are good enough get glued onto a new piece of paper, in whatever order they work best. I recently used this method to combine three pieces of flash into one short story. You should try it, guys!

    • Stephanie Orges

      Ooooo. I do something like that with scenes on note cards, rearranging them and taking some out, etc., but I haven’t tried it with actual paragraphs. Sounds brilliant.

  8. Even though I try to avoid the computer for first and second drafts, I still end up distracted online during rewrites. What starts as research turns me into a Wikipedia glutton, constantly clicking away at new articles. And then tweeting about them, then replying to tweets, checking my emails etc.

    Although my laptop’s WiFi connectivity has died recently, which makes it the perfect little typewriter – one with a USB drive!

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  10. What a great post. I can’t agree more with the idea of visualizing yourself living it. Everything starts with a thought after all, all else follows like a magnet! I found the most inspiring collection of testimonials at TheAudacityofSuccess.com that really helped me realize I needed to seal the deal and make a ‘decision’ to achieve what I wanted ‘until’ it was done. There was no room for any other result. Loved the thoughts here, very wise, practical and applicable!!

  11. Thank you for sharing this great ways! People who want to write should see this. I also learned a lot.

  12. Hey

    Thanks for the article, it works!


  13. Thanks for this, Stephanie.
    Writing can be such an unpredictable endeavor for those who chronically lose motivation. Sometimes we love it and don’t want to stop, while other times it’s practically the worst possible task in our to-do list.

    What I personally do is step away for a few days and then I usually come back feeling refreshed. Another thing is trying your very best to write about topics you’re comfortable with, as unfamiliar subjects can potentially add to your writing-related burnout.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this article.

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