First problem with motivation is to admit when you don’t have it. Only then can you do something about finding it again. Acknowledge that until you have your book up for sale, you’re not done. Only you can complete this book, all its rewrites, get it through the formatting and cover-designing stages and on to publication. Stick with it, though, because the result will be worth it!
1. Create a schedule. With deadlines.
Write every day. Yes, every day. Some days it may be just 30 minutes. Some days it may be an essay or a journal entry and not your book. Consider setting personal deadlines: If I don’t write this many words today and every day, I won’t finish it by my birthday. And what an outstanding gift that would be to yourself!
2. Impose discipline.
Remove anything – or anyone – that can interrupt or distract you. Phone off. Door closed. If necessary, arrange for someone else to watch the kids. Focus on your work. The household chores must wait. After an hour, stretch, take a quick break – but then get back to it.
3. Take a break or change your environment.
Not just that five-minute break. Set the manuscript aside for a few days if you’re feeling blocked. Just don’t take too long. Do not allow a few days to become a week or a month. If you think you’re not ready after a few days, go back to it anyway – but perhaps in a different room in your home. Or try the library or coffee shop.
4. Share your progress.
Weight Watchers became an enormously successful company because the founder understood that people need to share their successes along the path of what is essentially a solitary task, losing weight. They need a kick in the butt sometimes, and to celebration short-term goals at others. Writing is similar. If you know another writer, great. Share the journey. If you don’t, you can still let someone know that your plan is to edit Chapter 2 by Wednesday and write another 20,000 words before the end of the month. Have regular check-ins and progress updates. Let a friend help you stay on track. Can’t think of the right someone to do this? Twitter and Facebook are great tools for announcing goals and achievements. You might even motivate someone else along the way.
You can also join a writers group in your area, where you’ll find writing prompts and friendly evaluations of your work.
5. Never revise as you write.
They’re two different processes and they don’t comingle. Write, write, write. Then revise.
6. Know when to stop.
You’ve finished the story, you’ve edited it. Are you done? How do you know? Give it to a friend or loved one and ask for their honest comments. This should be someone who cares about you, but not so much that they won’t be honest. Select someone who reads (a lot) and knows basic American English grammar. Congratulations! You’ve reached the editing stage!