What to do when you can’t get motivated to write

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I’m a naturally lazy person. I can do nothing all, and really enjoy it. It’s the reason it’s taken me so long to be able build traffic to websites.

All of that writing advice out there doesn’t necessarily help. I don’t want to write everyday. I’m not willing to work 60 hours a week.

I had to sit myself and ask myself how much I really wanted to write for a living, and how much effort I was willing to put in. Since I worked full time as restaurant manager at the time, a job not known for it’s short hours, and stress-free environment, I couldn’t afford to wait for motivation – I needed a schedule.

Why you need to stop chasing writing motivation

I’m only very occasionally motivated to write, and usually only when I’m in the middle of a shift and don’t have the option.

It became a little defence mechanism – I was an unsuccessful writer because I didn’t have the motivation. I also convinced myself I didn’t have the time, if I wanted to continue to have a secure income, volunteer on the weekends, and see my boyfriend.

I switched up my hours. The hours I dreamed of for years, and which were unheard of in in my industry – switched my 11-5, five days a week plus one evening shift, to four 12 hours days. That gave me a whole day to write.

I couldn’t rely on motivation. I needed time.

Long term strategies for writing motivation

But having time in’t alway enough. Who hasn’t sat and stared at a blank page for hours at a time?

So you will need:

  • A way of corralling all your notes and ideas

It’s no secret that I love Google Keep. It’s free, syncs across all your devices, and I can use it as shopping list, blog post idea dumping ground, and somewhere to keep my YouTube playlists. I also keep links to any useful articles there.

You can colour code your notes, keep photos there…everything. I actually prefer it to Evernote, and it’s free.

Get into a writing routine

I bought myself a planner and I write a list at the beginning of every week what I want to get done. Anything I don’t get done rolls over to next week, but if I get everything done early, then I can a day off.

Striving to work everyday doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to do it. So I create an incentive – if I work hard, I’m rewarded with a day off.

Take all writing advice with a pinch of salt

There’s just so much of it. If you want to write in bed in your pjs, go for it. If you want to work in full makeup at your desk, fine. Go to a coffee shop, the park, WHATEVER.

It truly doesn’t matter. There’s no ‘proper’ way to write. As long as words are being written, who cares how they got there?

I won’t lie, it can take a long time to find out how you write best. I always had visions of writing in bed with cool music playing in the background, but I can only write in total silence, sat at my desk in a very tidy, uncluttered room.

Create a content calendar

When you first start your website, I recommend planning out your first 30 posts AT LEAST. If you really want to grow quickly, consider planning out your first 100.

Forget about getting x number of people to your site. Forget about making money and building email lists and all those distractions. Your only goal is to create 30 kick-ass articles.

Work out how many articles you can write per week, or month or whatever.

Schedule a day for keyword research, and another for prepping your posts. I like to create an outline for all my posts in advance.

I write out all the subheadings I’m going to use, check the relevant categories, and create the images (pin and featured) in Canva and add them to the post.

That way, when you sit down at your desk (or sofa, or bed, or lawn, or wherever) you just open up a draft and write the article. I research a little bit whilst figuring out which subheadings to use, but usually just research as I write, using my iPad or phone as a second screen.

When you work like this, you won’t waste time wondering what to do. This is especially important if you only have 15 minutes or so of writing time five days a week – you’ll still be able to make progress.

This is also why I recommend that if you find yourself with a free day, or few hours, work on prepping posts, rather than writing them.

Having blog posts ready to write means that you can take advantage of any time that you’re stuck with nothing to do.

You can add text to blog posts on your phone and even get them publishing if the things that are difficult to do on a small screen (like creating images) are already done.

Be aware of what causes your lack of motivation

I can’t write when I’m hungover to any degree. Can’t do it. Even if I’ve only had a mouthful of wine – the next day my writing senses doing work.

So I pretty much only drink on Saturdays now. If there’s an event or something and I know I’ll be drinking midweek, I move my schedule around, or maybe work longer hours so that I can still go out and enjoy myself without falling behind.

Short term strategies for writing motivation

Watch TV – if you’re writing a novel, watch TV shows and movies that are in the same genre, and see if it generates a spark of motivation. See also reading books.

If you struggle with feeling guilty about watching movies when you should be writing, keep and pen and piece of paper net to you, and make notes.

Don’t feel guilty if you’re watching movies rather than writing. It doesn’t achieve anything, and guilt can often hinder creativity. Just because you’re watching a movie noe doesn’t mean you won’t write later.

Check out Right Move

I have no idea what the US equivalent is, but Right Move is a real estate website where you can look at pictures of houses that for sale.

I swear NOTHING lights fire under me more than seeing my dream home, and imagining living there when all my writing money finally comes in.

I like to set the price at £1m and above, because I like to set my sights high.

Create a list of ‘dither’ tasks

You know those days when you want to get stuff done but your brain just isn’t cooperating? Don’t try to force it. Forced writing usually seems, er, forced.

Instead, have a list of tasks ready for times when you’re just not feeling it. SUch tasks might include:

  • Applying for Adsense. You don’t have to add the code, but it’s nice to be all ready to go when your traffic starts flowing
  • Updating your Pinterest profile – add some pins to boards, add board descriptions, get rid of boards that aren’t relevant etc
  • Make a list of affiliate networks and products that might be good to promote
  • Make a list of possible blog post ideas
  • Spend some time on Unsplash downloading pictures that you might need in the future
  • Read some blogs that are an authority in your niche and leave some useful comments
  • Set up an email list. I use Convertkit which is free for 100 subscribers, but Mailerlite is a good free option too.

None of these activities is going to be a better use if your time than writing articles, but I get it. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood. Rather than going and cleaning out your broom closet, do one of these things instead.

Reschedule, rather than force yourself to write

Supposing you write at 7am before you go to work, but you didn’t sleep very well. Rather than dragging yourself out of bed and forcing yourself to write and be tired all day, reschedule that writing time, and go back to sleep.

Sure, it’s not great to get into the habit of doing this, but having that bit of flexibility can really help you stay on track and stick out those long months in the Google sandbox.

Perhaps you can find half an hour at the weekend to catch up.

If you struggle with motivation, is writing really your passion?

Once upon I time I was a very sporadic writer. I’d go through phases of writing thousands of words a week, and then nothing at all for months on end. I’d question if writing was my real passion at all.

Surely if writing was what I wanted to spend my life doing, I’d want to do it all the time?

In the end, it was my own lack of success that made me realise that I want to be a writer. I had a handful of unfinished novels, even more abandoned blogs, and I spend hundreds of pounds on hosting, domains, and courses that had never gotten me anywhere.

Of course it was my passion, otherwise I wouldn’t have kept coming back and giving it another go.

The reason I’d never gotten anywhere was two fold:

  1. I never stuck at any one thing for long enough
  2. I never found a strategy that worked for me/was too wrapped up in writing for myself, rather than other people.

Final thoughts on how to motivate yourself to write

There is no magic formula, I’m afraid.

Well, there is, but you need to find it. For me, it was getting organised. Prepping all my posts in advance (which is the bit I don’t really enjoy) so that all I have to do is write really helps. I actually look forward to sitting down at my desk and writing.

No one will make you write. Most of the time, no one else cares if you write or not. No one is going to push you or do it for you. If you want to be a writer, write.

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