I have to admit that I’ve been in a writing funk on and off for about a month. I’ve been getting some negative critiques of my unpublished novel, and I always take negative feedback way too hard.
This week, a close writing friend asked me a question that got me thinking. Maybe I wasn’t the only one in the world who struggled with keeping up the motivation.
His question was: How do I motivate myself when I don’t feel like writing?
Considering I was currently struggling with this, I really reflected on this question. One of my favorite writing quotes sprang to mind first.
“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” – William Faulkner
This quote is what kept me writing every day, whether I have something to say, or not. I don’t wait for inspiration to hit, I just write. Period. Just putting the pen to paper creates inspiration. (Or rather, staring at a blank computer screen.)
But, being in my funk, I’m completely distracted. Instead of writing, I search google for some useless fact, check social media, or read other’s blog posts. Urgh. An hour passes and I’ve written nothing. Why? Because I don’t really want to write.
“Take a break,” some tell me.
I can’t. I really can’t. Last time I took a little “break,” ten years passed!
That’s when I realized, this fear of quitting keeps me going. I love the highs I get from writing. The positive words of readers, the self-satisfaction of solving a plot problem, and the rush when a new story idea hits me.
As of today, I’m out of my funk. Why? Because a few people asked when the sequel to my Clone novel is coming out and it lit a fire inside me. Sequel? Wow. Now, I’m motivated.
But during my month struggle, here are the little things I did to keep writing.
- Work on something relating to writing. Even if it’s cover design, blog posts, editing something really old.
- Read someone’s work. Commit to giving them positive encouragement—as they need it probably as much, or more, than you or me.
- Make a calendar of mini-goals and check them off as they are accomplished. I did this with that novel I haven’t published yet (the one with the negative critiques.) I committed to rewriting/fixing one scene per day. Yeah, it’ll take like 100 days to get through it, but I am making progress. Without a goal, I may never have touched it again. Now, I’m four chapters in (out of 27) and the momentum is picking up. I’m seeing progress and am excited for the new & improved version of the story.
- Seek out a “fan,” even if it’s our mother, and discuss a piece of our writing with them. Hopefully, we get a little “pep” talk that keeps us moving forward.
- Do something fun, unrelated to writing. For me, it’s been seeing movies. I’ve watched more movies in the past month than I’ve seen all year. Rogue One, Fantastic Beasts, and Dr. Strange. Since I write speculative fiction, all three have inspired me in little ways. Just make sure to come back to writing.
- Find a writing friend, a critique partner who’s struggling too. Commit to encouraging each other. There’s nothing better than sharing our struggles with someone that’s struggled (or struggling) too.
- Pull out old, “good” critiques or feedback. Reread these.
- Reward ourselves with something. We’ve stuck with it, despite the slump, we definitely deserve that iced mocha latte with extra whipped topping.
So, I leave you with the quote my writing friend sent back to me about Abraham Lincoln and Perseverance.
“He failed in business in ’31. He was defeated for state legislator in ’32. He tried another business in ’33. It failed. His fiancé died in ’35. He had a nervous breakdown in ’36. In ’43 he ran for congress and was defeated. He tried again in ’48 and was defeated again. He tried running for the Senate in ’55. He lost. The next year he ran for Vice President and lost. In ’59 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated. In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln, was elected the 16th President of the United States.”
“The difference between history’s boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often, simply, the diligent will to persevere.”
So keep with it. Never quit.