Friday, August 11, 2017

How to Stay Motivated to Write When Life Gets Hard

You were so excited when you started this story. You just knew you were supposed to write it. You had plans: You were going to write on these specific days, you were going to keep to your outline, and you were going to create something beautiful.

But that was then. This is now and everything has fallen to pieces. Writing? Please. That's the last thing you want to do. Your story's kind of a mess and work has been hard or there's family trouble or school is killing your soul or depression decided to come for a visit and just won't leave. Or all of these.

You just don't have time to write. And even if you did, you really wouldn't want to. Frustrating doesn't even come close to explaining how this feels.

How are you supposed to stay motivated to write even when nothing is going your way? Here's how:
How to Stay Motivated to Write When Life Gets Hard - How are you supposed to stay motivated to write even when nothing is going your way? Here are some helpful tips!
Recognize that life sucks. What? You thought I was going to be super cheerful, didn't you? Well, you were wrong. I'm just going to be real: Life is hard and upsetting and always trying to shove you down. You need to recognize this so that you can stand up for yourself. If you go into your writing expecting things to be happy and fluffy and good, then you're going down and you're going down hard. You can hope, but don't expect. So how do you stand up for yourself?

Take time each day to do something that makes you happy. This something cannot be writing. Writing is great, but you need variety. If this "happy activity" can be unrelated to electronics, that's even better. Here are some things you can try:
  • Pray
  • Exercise 
  • Go for a walk
  • Prepare a yummy meal
  • Read a book 
  • Sit down and drink some coffee/tea 
  • Color
  • Take a bath/shower 
I know that things are probably pretty tight for you time-wise. But if you want to stay sane, you need to take some time to de-stress. Even if it's just for a few minutes. This is a nonnegotiable. Your life will try to tell you, "No, there's no time! We need to work on these life things or we'll get behind and things will be worse!" And you need to be able to stand up for yourself and say, "No. That's wrong. I need to take a step back and regroup." Don't let life bully you into believing that taking time for yourself is somehow a bad idea. Stand your ground. 

Remember why this story was important to you. Make a list. Remember why you wanted to write this story in the first place. What about it was special to you? Why did you enjoy it? Make a list, print it out, put it somewhere you can easily find it. This will help you re-orient yourself when you look at your writing and think:

Know that you'll probably feel better after writing. Look. There are days when you won't want to write. You'll write anyway and really not enjoy doing it. But, once you're done, 90% of the time you're going to be glad that you did. What about the other 10%? That's what this next tip is for: 

Know that sometimes writing sessions are going to feel empty. You're going to spend time on your story and walk away knowing that what you just wrote wasn't any good. You'll feel frustrated and unfulfilled. That's okay. Step back. Take a deep breath. Know that you can fix it later. Now go and do something that makes you feel happy. Even if you've already done it once today. 

Understand that motivation has nothing to do with writing. Yep. You really don't need to be at all motivated to write. And that's your motivation. Savvy? No? Okay, let me try again: You are a writer. And, as we all know, it's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you. So if you're a writer, you write words. Even when you're tired or stressed or just not motivated, you know: It doesn't make a difference. You are a word warrior. You can press forward no matter what. You can write no matter what because you are a writer and it's what you do. Motivation? Who needs it? Not you. So take that, life! 

Be okay with writing sucky pieces. Seriously. It happens to everyone. Don't let it scare you away. A sucky paragraph is better than no paragraph. A sucky paragraph can be edited. A non-existent one cannot. A sucky paragraph can be learned from, can be used to jumpstart thoughts, can be used to get out all the bad ideas to make way for good ones. Non-existent paragraphs can do none of these things. So write away and don't be annoyed or ashamed by how "bad" your piece is. You're moving forward and that's what matters.

Don't set unrealistic goals for yourself. I'm a big advocate for scheduling your writing time. But what if you just can't do that? What about those times in your life where everything is up in the air and your schedule is always shifting? Should you still try to write an hour each day at exactly 9 AM? No. Let me say it again: NO. The goal is to finish your book, not fry your brain and crack your soul. Recognize when you're going to have to change your writing time from 9 AM to 9 PM. When you're going to have to fit in 20 minutes of writing instead of 60. When you're just going to have to throw up your hands and not write at all today. Full-time writers can write everyday. You and I? We don't always have that luxury. And that's okay. 

Be proud of yourself and your writing. Do you have any idea how hard it is to just be a human? It's hard. Really, really hard. And yet, here you are. Alive and human-ing. That's a massive accomplishment in and of itself. Okay, so maybe you're life isn't pretty right now. Mine isn't, either. And I'm okay with that. Why? Because this messy life and this wreck of a book? It's mine. And I work hard each day to make it into something better. And I'm proud of that. You should be proud of yourself, too. Hold your head up high and know, "Hey. I'm doing my best." Because that's really the important thing, isn't it? That you're still fighting. That you're still trying your hardest. Maybe you can't see it now, but what you're doing is pretty amazing. Keep being you. 

Do you have tips for how to keep writing even when life gets really hard? I'd love to hear them! Please leave a comment below with your thoughts. 

Related articles:
How to Write Even When You Don't Feel Like it (yes, I realize this article would appear to be on the same topic as this one. They are slightly different. Slightly. But yes, I did forgot this one existed. My bad)
5 Steps to Fighting Off Writer's Insecurity 
How and Why You Need to Schedule Your Writing Time

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18 comments:

  1. "Alive and human-ing". I love this! This post is pretty much exactly what I needed to read this morning. I haven't written much this week, and this is the longest I've had writer's block since I started this writing thing. But I'm still here, so it's ok. Thank you for your words of wisdom, they really touched my soul and spoke to me what I needed to hear.

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    1. Yes! Love that line and "A sucky paragraph can be edited. A non-existent one cannot." So true.

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    2. YES. You are doing awesome, Aaron. I'm so glad this post helped you out! You too, Carrie. Thanks for the great comments.

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  2. This struck a cord with me! I am exactly at this awkward stage of life (and writing) and needed this encouragement to push on. Thanks for doing the hard work of sorting through the frustration and confusion to be able to present a way out of it. Thanks for sharing!
    Jen

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    1. I'm so happy this helped you, Jen! Go create something awesome. You got this!

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  3. It doesn't matter how many posts there are about this...it's always something we'll need to hear. (At least, I'll always need to hear it.) Thanks Hannah :)

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    1. I always need to hear it, too. =D Glad you enjoyed, Faith!

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  4. Very entertaining reminder, and sadly needed far too often. Thanks! Excuse me while I go human...

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    1. Haha! Human away, my friend. You are doing brilliantly. =)

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  5. I put on some rain noises in the background and I find that usually helps me focus even when I don't want to. there's something about rain in the background that is so calming, and it makes whatever music o'm listening to seem 10492030% more inspirational and epic

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    1. Ooooo. This is a great idea! I'm going to try this next time I need to write and am super stressed. It does seem very calming. Thanks for the awesome tip!

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  6. notaperfectsoldierAugust 11, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    This is really motivating, even though I'm not a writer. I feel like an imposter reading your blog...

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    1. Lol! I'm just really impressed that you read this blog without being a writer. That is awesome and very hardcore. =D Thank you for always tuning in!

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    2. notaperfectsoldierAugust 18, 2017 at 8:14 AM

      I am showing most of the symptoms of becoming a writer though! And I have been thinking about it, I just kinda don't know where to begin. (Also I've never been called hardcore before! That's cool.)

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  7. I'm officially going to look back at this post every single time writing is a low! This is great. 😄

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    1. Sweet! This is a good idea. I think I should adopt this plan, too. =D

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  8. I loved this post. My favorite tip was taking time to do something that makes you happy. That is something I don't think enough people do.
    If I were to add a tip, it would be to just try starting with five or ten minutes of writing. If you don't want to do any more, then stop. But sometimes just doing a little bit can get you back in the mood to write more.

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    1. Agreed! I think it's important for everybody, not just writers. We get so stressed with every day life that we forget that there are things in life that are enjoyable...and worth enjoying.

      I love your added tip! I often do this and find that I do, actually, want to write and end up going over my 10 minutes. But, like you said, if it doesn't end up making you excited to write, then that's okay too. Thank you so much for the great comment!

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