There are many ways I’ve tried to motivate myself over the years, with varying degrees of success. Well, I haven’t given up on myself yet. I’m still here, hoping my stubborn-ness will one day overcome my laziness.
THE SEVENTEEN METHODS
1. ‘You Can Do It!’ – (Reading endless self-help books on how to write.)
I have done this many times. It provides the illusion that I’m making real progress when really, I’m not.
2. ‘Highly Improbable Word Goals’ – (Swearing I’ll write 2,000+ words a day.)
Oh, the burn-out. When I fail to reach goals like this, it makes me sad. And the shoddy quality! I’m still sorting out all the crap I’ve written from stints like this. I’m finding it’s better to write what I can, when I can.
3. ‘Highly Probable Word Goals’ – (Swearing I’ll write 250+ words a day.)
Yes, these get me writing every day, but I find myself burning through these as fast as possible. I barely have time to think about what I’ve written, or rather, what could be further explored while I’m writing it. Instead, I think about what I’m gonna do after I’m done writing. For a budding writer, that can’t be healthy.
4. ‘Writing for the Next Thirty Minutes, Go!’ – (Dedicating my next half hour/hour to writing.)
These writing bursts are encouraged in writing communities, especially in chat rooms. Did you ever notice how most people who contribute heavily to writing communities are unsuccessful writers? Myself included. Their forums are littered with Yes-men as well. Myself not included.
5. ‘Creating a Writer’s Nest’ – (Having a special nook in the world where I can write in peace.)
Outside is too windy. Downstairs is too spidery and dark. Upstairs is too noisy. That leaves me with … ?
Not that I haven’t tried. My environment is not well suited for this right now, but I could imagine it working in a different house or a different environment.
6. ‘Going to a Cafe to Write’ – (Driving to it, ordering something. Sitting down. Writing.)
The only place that this has ever worked for me was at a cafe in my old college. I think it only worked so well because I was supposed to be doing homework. Now bringing my laptop to a Panera Bread or Starbucks makes me feel like a pretentious prick. (And the fact that I don’t like coffee doesn’t help.)
7. ‘Going Dark’ – (Disconnecting the internet.)
This also stretches to writing in a real notebook instead of on a notebook PC. When I’m writing, I generally don’t get on the internet. When I’m on the internet, I generally don’t write. Pulling the network cable just makes it harder to research, or look up words on Dictionary.com. But I will say sometimes it’s good to step away from the social networking scene to spend time with my book.
8. ‘Creating a Playlist’ – (Listening to tunes when I should be writing.)
I used to be at my creative best when listening to music. Drawing. Painting. Etc. Sadly, writing doesn’t work the same way. When there’s music, I can’t concentrate on writing. I can’t sink my teeth into the story. I’ve tried listening to lyric-less music that gives me goosebumps, and what happened was it made me feel like what I was writing was beautiful. No. It turns out it was just the music.
9. ‘Waking Up at the Crack of Dawn’ – (Setting my alarm even earlier than work requires.)
This is not a sustainable answer for a full-time worker. I can do this once every … 12 weeks? I feel like I’m getting old.
10. ‘Staying Up All Night’ – (Chances are, I’ll sleep through my alarm the next morning.)
See #9. Also, the results of this method rarely turn out coherent.
11. ‘Skipping Ahead to the Candybar Scenes’ – (Writing the fun parts of the story first, then trying to connect them up with the boring parts later.)
This method leaves me with nothing exciting to write about. It makes my story less likely to be completed. Next…
12. ‘Pantsing’ – (Writing down any craziness that happens to enter my head.)
If I’m starting fresh, this method often results in boring stories. Slices of life from real-life people in real-life situations. It’s hard for me to write about a fantasy world without planning it out. Yet, this method (in small doses) can and has broken my writer’s block. But I approach it dubiously.
13. ‘Creating an Outline’ – (Planning the whole thing out.)
If I’m stuck in my story, sometimes I’ll break down the outline further and further, magnifying things down to microscopic elements, events that make up a single scene if I have to. And does this help me write? Sometimes, yes.
14. ‘Writing From Beginning to End’ – (Writing the story linearly from Chapter 1 to THE END.)
I really thought this was the answer for the longest time, keep adding to the end of what I’ve written ’til I get there. It makes perfect sense, but it turns out this isn’t the way my mind works. I keep thinking, “How am I going to follow that up?” When I add unedited words to the tail-end of polished, edited words, it can be too daunting to move on.
15. ‘Writing Backwards’ – (Picking a point in the story that’s strongest in my mind and writing it, then working backwards from there.)
I enjoy picking a future point in the story, writing that scene, then writing the scene before it, and the scene before it, until I collide with something I’ve already written. Strangely, this is HANDS-DOWN the best method for me (so far). And it’s taken me years to find it.
16. ‘Starting Over’ – (Letting it all go to Hell.)
First of all, NEVER delete your story.
Sometimes what I end up with is drivel. I can tell it’s drivel, so I archive it and start over. Sometimes I don’t look at the archived piece ’til after I’m done with the re-write. It usually ends up being better the second time. But it’s such a collosal waste of time and I try to do this sparingly.
17. ‘Starting Something Else’ – (The answer to all burn-out.)
This is why short stories exist. And blogs. And, I suppose, other novels. But I haven’t reached that point yet.