This is the second in a three piece series on writing. For the first entry on Inspiration, click HERE. Next time, I’ll be talking about perspiration, but for today, I’m focusing on motivation. You have an inspired idea. Now what? What motivates you to write?
I think that’s the key question because, like inspiration, what motivates one person will not necessarily motivate another. For example, some people might be internally motivated. They’re excited by the idea of creating a world, telling a story, or finishing a project. For other writers, that might not be enough. They want to share their work with others, have their work published, win rave reviews, or earn some money. There are places you can go to tap into these incentives!
1. Motivation: Learning a Skill and Honing Your Craft
If you want to write because you enjoy learning the skill of writing and becoming a better writer, I suggest you join or connect with a professional organization. There are writing associations for just about every genre. These associations have amazing resources you can tap into and hold conferences and writing workshops throughout the year.
Personally, I have learned a lot from the conferences I’ve attended and I’ve seen sessions on every stage of the writing process—developing strong main characters, tapping into an authentic narrative voice, searching for plot holes, querying agents, and starting publicity for a finished work. More than that, you get to meet, talk, and network with writers (and some illustrators) in all stages of their careers. You can learn tips from seasoned pros and share your woes with newbies who are just starting out.
Some groups require publication before you are able to join as a member, but most have resources and workshops available to non-members as well. If you’re unsure whether you want to join, you can always visit their websites for helpful links, or attend one day of a weekend conference they provide. Some of the groups are listed below:
2. Motivation: Sharing Your Work with Others
If you’re not yet ready for publication, but you still want to share your work with others, I recommend joining a writer’s group near you. www.meetup.com is one website which acts as a platform for many different types of groups, but that’s where I found my writing group. You can do a Google search for your town. Alternatively, you can check out your town library’s website or speak to your local librarian since many writing groups meet once or twice a month and libraries are a popular meeting place!
A writer’s group is typically a group of 3-10 people who share their work and provide feedback through a peer-review process. This is also a wonderful way to meet new friends while you continue learning how to hone your craft. If there’s not a writing group in your town, talk to a librarian to see if you can start a group there at the library.
Some people feel differently, but I think it’s helpful to be part of both a mixed-genre group and a focused-genre group if you can. A mixed genre group may have poets, memoirists, children’s writers, crime writers, science fiction writers, and bloggers, and more all in one room! A focused group will consist of writers only in one genre. I think it’s helpful to read and consider different types of writing and to learn from the conventions of a genre not your own. I also think it’s helpful to learn from others who are focused perfecting the art of whatever specific genre you’re writing in.
You can always start a blog to share thoughts, short, stories, poems, or articles as I've done here! Weebly and WordPress are both great platforms! I think Weebly is easier to use, but WordPress has a better online community.
Another option is finding a beta reader. A beta reader is someone who can read, consider, and respond to your work. I did this for my second novel. I wasn’t sure about the narrative voice and I wanted specific feedback, so I turned to a trusted friend who I knew could: 1. Read the work before a stated deadline of 2 weeks and 2. Give me more feedback than just “Good job” or “I didn’t like it.” These people might be rare, but if you’re really desperate, you can always do a shout-out on Facebook to see which of your friends might be willing to try.
3. Motivation: Money
If your only motivation is making money, you can always do freelance work. Sites like Upwork and Freelancer provide freelance and contract gigs such as writing blogs, ghostwriting, copyediting, and more. If you have a skill in design or coding, even better. You can earn money using those skills as well. A list of freelance sites can be found HERE
4. Motivation: Finishing a Project
We’re talking about perspiration next time, but if your goal is to finish a novel, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is in November. The NaNoWriMo website has fun tools to help motivate you and keep you on track. They’ve got word count helpers, word sprints, charts to mark your daily progress, forums where writers can discuss their challenges and triumphs, pep talks by published writers, and local regions to join. It’s fun, motivational, and it’s not too late to start! Visit the website HERE
I’m not the type of person who is motivated by simply sitting down and writing a certain word count every day, but that does work for a lot of people. So my last suggestion is this: If you’re motivated to finish a project, consider setting a goal every day. Many writers can write about 1,000 words in an hour, but that might not be you. You could set a goal of writing for at least a half hour, or a goal of writing at least 250, 500, 1,000, 2,000 or even 10,000 words. It all depends on what works for you. Just remember, it’s not fast and speedy or slow and steady that wins the race. It’s whatever pace you feel most comfortable.
5. Make It Fun!
Writing should be fun—not a chore. Think about kids who are given chores to do. The minute they have to start cleaning up, they pout, whine, even scream. Good parents are prepared for these protestations and use motivational tools like turning the chore into a game or giving allowance for things like dusting the furniture or cleaning the dishes. No one is motivated to do chores unless they have a serious incentive. It’s the same with writing. Give yourself an incentive. Find what motivates you and tap into it to give yourself encouragement while invigorating your project!