Edit My Novel

how do i stay motivated?

by Cara Lockwood

Whether you’re trying to write a novel in a month for Camp NaNoWriMo, or you’re simply trying to finally finish that griping fantasy novel you’ve been working on for ten years, it’s hard to stay motivated while writing. 

As a novelist, I find that there are days when the words flow easily, and others when even writing the first sentence feels about as easy as climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops. 

While I love writing, and I can’t imagine not doing it for a living, I also know that there are days when I’d rather do almost anything other than face the pages I have to write. Every distraction, even laundry or the gym, begins to look like a more fun way to spend my afternoon. Here are some tips of getting and staying motivated while you write your novel:

Write something every day even if it’s terrible. When I’m facing down a deadline, I don’t take a day off. I try to live with my characters as much as possible so that any time I open up my computer file, I don’t have to waste a lot of time bringing myself up to speed by figuring out what I wrote a week ago and where I am in the story. Writing every day helps keep the characters fresh in your mind. It also will help the words flow a little better.

Tell your inner critic to take a hike. All authors at one time or another have a crisis of confidence in their writing abilities, but when you’re trying to hit a tight deadline the fact is you just don’t have time to worry about whether you have enough talent to even be doing this. Get words down on paper and then worry later if they’re any good or not. It is far easier to edit a bad manuscript than to write one from scratch. 

Make reasonable goals for yourself and stick to them. The key here is to be reasonable in your daily page-count goal. I always thought of daily page goals as minimums and I’d always try to exceed them. I didn’t always succeed, but when I did, it felt really good. 

Find a place to write that will ensure you won’t get distracted. For me, this happened to be at the local Starbucks with my headphones on and my WiFi turned off. I refuse to let myself check email or Facebook or Twitter until I finish the pages I’d planned to do that day. 

Don’t think about how much more you have to do. Concentrate on what you did already. This is the writer’s equivalent of “Don’t look down.” If you start worrying about how many pages or words you have left to write, you might find yourself with a pretty hefty case of vertigo and get stuck from sheer fright. For me, after writing every day, I print my pages out. I like to read over them before I went to bed. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment. As I hold the papers in my hand, I can really see how much writing I am really doing every day. As my stack of pages grows, so does my confidence that I will finish on time. 

Remember that deadlines are the world's greatest motivator. Even as you’re cursing the fact that you signed on to make what seems like an impossible deadline, remember that this is just the universe's way of inspiring you to finish. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and write!

Still stuck? Get unstuck with the help of some professional editing or writing coaching.  

Want to read more? Check out the Huffington Post.