Several years ago, I decided to enter a flash fiction competition. I spent two months writing a three-hundred word story.
(Yes, that’s an insane amount of time to devote to a small piece of writing.)
I had entered this competition several times during the past few years, and I was convinced I had a good story, that I knew what the judges wanted.
I was full of it.
I didn’t win but… I was delighted to find my story was short-listed.
Then, I faced a problem.
I didn’t want to sit down and write anything new, and even though I had some ideas, I couldn’t start.
I wasn’t motivated to write (or work on my art).
The backstories of successful writers, musicians and artists people are filled with early risers, night owls and craftsmen and women who all felt demotivated at some point in their careers.
So, here are three answers to your question:
1. Associate ONE Place With Your Art
Irish novelist, John Banville gets up early every morning leaves his house and travels to an apartment in Dublin city where he spends the day working on his novels.
“I live in Dublin, God knows why. There are greatly more congenial places I could have settled in — Italy, France, Manhattan — but I like the climate here, and Irish light seems to be essential for me and for my writing.”
You might not be able to afford an apartment solely for writing — and I agree with John about the weather — but you could carve out a quiet space in your house, in a coffee shop or even the local library.
Associate that place with writing and nothing else and you’ll slip into your creative groove more easily.
Just remember to leave a tip.
2. Search for a New Routine For Working on Your Art
On the other hand, perhaps keeping a strict creative routine is causing you to feel demotivated?
Or what worked for you in the past no long fits with the demands of day-to-day life.
The novelist Anne Rice — she of Interview with the Vampire fame — used to enjoy writing late at night. When her son was born in 1978, that all changed.
Small children and keeping late nights don’t go hand-in-hand.
So, Rice began writing during the day and early morning.
“It’s always a search for the uninterrupted three- or four-hour stretch”
Your search will take you to unusual places, if you let it.
3. Obsess About Your Progress
I’m a little obsessed with productivity, and I can tell you, what gets measured, gets managed, and what gets managed, gets done.
Ernest Hemingway knew the value of measuring his progress.
Even though he drank late into the night, he still rose each morning at first light to write for several hours, before anyone could disturb him.
He tracked what he wrote on a board next to where worked so as “not to kid myself”.
Well, sometimes the hours you put in the chair are as important as the words you lay out on the page or the canvas.
And that’s enough to keep motivated.
If you still need help, then I put together some additional strategies that will help you get motivated to write.