Writing Life: Making Time and Motivation

Image © Simon Clayson

The biggest obstacle I face as a writer is overcoming the tendency to put writing on the back burner.  Writing is my life, my love, and my means of staying sane; I’ve put writing before friends, jobs, and relationships—

So why can’t I put more importance on setting aside time to write?

My excuses:

  • There’s a show that I want to watch.  (I have a DVR.  This shouldn’t even be an excuse.)
  • Facebook.  (Life-destroying social network paired with my apparent lack of willpower.)
  • There’s always a fresh idea beyond the one I’m working on.  (Attention span fail.)

Are any of them valid?  No.  Not really.  They waste time, make me homesick, show just how lazy I am.  And when I schedule time to write, I usually foul it up somehow: procrastinate, self-sabotage, just plain fail.  Being a “work in progress” as a person and as a writer must yield some progress if it’s going to continue to be an excuse for my shortcomings.

This post isn’t going to offer you a definite solution.  I can offer some suggestions that I should probably try myself. I suppose what people like me—people like us—need most is a support group to keep one another accountable.  I’m not sure how to go about this yet, but if I come up with anything, I’ll let you lovely people know.

So, suggestions?

  • Write it on your calendar.  Seeing “Write: 8a-3p” in your face makes it more tangible a goal than defining it vaguely in your head where you can’t physically see it.
  • Tacking/Taping sheets of inspiration, work, or development material around your work station.  It keeps your project real. I  look at it and remember little things I love about my project.  It makes me want to work on it.
  • Get other writers who need to get their work done to write with you.  Online or in a coffee shop.  Have word wars and share favorite sentences or bits of dialog.  Swap paragraphs and get opinions.  Never underestimate the support of writing with others.

Just remember that you don’t have to eat, sleep, and breathe writing to be a writer, but do make time for it.

How do you overcome procrastination and laziness?

Do you have a support network?  How deeply is your writing impacted by that network?



Filed under Writing Life

12 responses to “Writing Life: Making Time and Motivation

  1. I used to have a IRL friend who was a writer– We used to write together. Especially during NaNo, my entire goal for the day was “beat Sarah”. (:
    And Lectin gives me strict rules for when I need to write. He’s all “Fee, I want 500 in the next ten minutes.”
    I love all of my writer friends<3

  2. Erin M

    This is a really good and very topical post, Kit! I’ve been thinking about the problem lately, too. But unfortunately I don’t think I have any solid answers.

    (sort of a ramble) I seem to be lazy about writing until it suits me not to be. I know people always say you’re not supposed to wait for inspiration to strike, but I really find that if I want to work on a big project, I have to wait until I’m quite ready to write it. Short stories? Sure, I’ll chase the muse. But for anything long, it has to be a mixture of (a) being really, really excited about it, (b) getting into a positive mindset (I WILL DO THIS), and (c) doing it . . . and making myself keep at it until it’s done.

    But I do need time to recharge in between big projects, and I’ve learned not to berate myself about it. I’m definitely not writing all the time. If I did, I would have no ideas left. Need to forage, eavesdrop, research, take notes, live a little, get inspired!

    AND, I love your idea about writing buddies. It’s amazing how much encouragement from others really does help, even if writing is a fairly solitary activity.

    Best of luck on everything you’re working on!

    • It can really be daunting to even think about writing and all you’re not getting done when you don’t have the drive or inspiration to do it. I can relate, though. Working on big projects requires a lot of focus, and a lot of work learning what gets you back into writing mode when writing needs to get done.

      Thanks for reading. I’m glad I’m not the only one dealing with it.Lol

  3. amino

    In order to write my 3k words a day for MilHalfy (milWordy and a half), I do it first thing in the morning. Of course, I also get up at 5:30am, just ‘for fun,’ but that’s beside the point. I set a timer for an hour or less, and then just start writing. This may not work for everyone, but I know that if I write something really fast, I generally don’t angst over everything as much as I normally would, and so I can get all the icky stuff out. ^_^

    As for a support group, I tend to need one when a) I haven’t written my words in the morning, b) for the basic idea of: “You have to write every day,” or c) large word count goal for the day, or d) PROCRASTINATION.

    • 5:30am would probably kill me. I’m going to bed about an hour before that. Lol. Timed sessions are helpful. You’re lucky you can do longer bursts though. My attention span and carpal tunnel only allows for 15 minutes or so at a time. Between the two, it’s lucky I ever get anything done. Lol

      • amino

        Ouch. I’m lucky in that I have no carpal tunnel. It might start, though, which is annoying, but… meh. I use Dvorak and try not to type too much. LOL. I go to bed at 9pm, so I get my sleep in. I generally set a 15 minute timer for FAST wpm, and then again, and then again. It works better when I need words fast. If I don’t have a timer, I write about 50wpm. With a timer, it’s about 75. Just doesn’t work well when I need something planned out.

  4. Such good suggestions. And these are especially important due to the upcoming NaNoWriMO!!!

  5. I am so like this too. I find that when I do have the time to write (and it isn’t easy to come by, so why I don’t capitalize on it is mind-boggling) I stare at the computer,…wondering, oh, wondering what to write. I can’t even seem to pick a project. Short story? Plotting for my novel? a poem? It’s ridiculous. It’s comforting, however, to know others feel the same. :)

    • I know the “multiple project ADD” all too well! It gets me every time. Well…. not this time. I have ONE novel I’m working on, and if I stray from it, I’ll probably have to punish myself somehow. (That is a direct result of “I-love-to-start-things,-but-get-bored-and-never-finish-them” Syndrome.) Believe me. You are NOT alone. =]

  6. Sometime I’m going to print out your advice. I read this before but I need to get back on track. Depression and anxiety have really put a damper on my soul and my muse. You are really inspiring Kit and I love your blog! :)

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