Sometimes, I’m sitting at my computer, my Scrivener file is open, but I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to write.
Writing is my passion, but that doesn’t mean I’m always in the mood. Sometimes I do not feel motivated to write. It could be because I am tired from lack of sleep or I’ve been working on my novel for a long time and just feel burnt out. Whatever is causing my lack of motivation needs to be fixed if I want to write. When I am unmotivated, I’m sure to get writer’s block. It’s almost impossible to make myself do something I don’t want to do.
When I am not motivated to write, I don’t try and force myself to write. Instead, I do something that will rejuvenate my mind or I take a break.
Giving myself permission to take a break helps me end the vicious cycle of feeling like I have writer’s block.
Writer’s Block: Take a Break
Cure Decreased Motivation with a Short Break
Sometimes an activity that rejuvenates my mind is all I need to motivate myself to write. This is when I take a break that is short. Some sort of self-care like painting my nails, going for a run, or taking a bath. Or it could be a simple writing prompt or warm-up activity. I have a go-to list of 10 tricks I can use when I don’t want to write. Often, one of these will trigger my motivation, and I will be able to have a productive writing session.
One of my favorites is exercise. I love to run, but even a walk around the block can clear my mind and give me inspiration and revelation for my novel. By the time I get back home I’m often ready to write.
Another really helpful one is listening to a podcast or song. There are so many podcasts about writing and staying motivated. Listening to these podcasts often put me in the perfect mood for writing. Music can also be a powerful tool in setting the stage for productive writing.
I also find it useful to review what I know about my novel. Looking through my notes and my outlines often triggers an idea or motivates me to work on a certain section of my novel. It reminds me why I’m writing and helps me stay focused on what my novel needs.
When these tricks fail (because sometimes they do), I need a more invasive approach to curing my writer’s block and regaining my motivation. I need to take a break that is longer.
Cure Decreased Motivation with a Long Break
Some writers advise staying put because they fear if you leave you won’t come back. And that is solid advice. There have certainly been times when I’ve told myself I’d take a break and that break turned into a 3 month period where I’d all but abandoned my work in progress (WIP). But I’m going to tell you it is okay to take a break.
Why? Because I’ve learned that there is a difference between taking a break with the intention and plan to return to my WIP and taking a break because I feel unmotivated and have no intention of returning to my project in the near future. That’s not really a break, it’s a symptom of writer’s block.
As long as the break is intentional and I am committed to a time when I will return to my WIP, there are many instances when taking a break does me more good than harm. Sometimes it means not working on my WIP for a day or two. Other times it means taking a break for a few minutes or a few hours. When I feel unmotivated and I deny myself a break, it takes me all day to write a few crappy sentences. And it doesn’t help me get out of the rut for any future writing sessions.
Taking a break and then coming back often enables me you to write quicker and better, thus making up for the time “lost” in taking the break. Not being motivated often leads me to spells of time where I just give up. I’d rather take a break with purpose than take a break because I feel like giving up.
Preventing Decreased Motivation
Sometimes my lack of motivation has a deeply rooted cause and I need more than a break or an activity that will rejuvenate my mind. I need to take a step back and take some precautionary measures to try and prevent decreased motivation.
I am the most unmotivated when I don’t have goals. Without goals I have no purpose or focus to motivate me. Why write if I don’t know what I’m trying to accomplish? But when I have goals, I feel much more enthused to write. My desire to successfully achieve my goals motivates me to write.
I also feel unmotivated if I am not prepared to write. Without proper preparation I have no motivation. When lack of preparation causes my decreased motivation, I need to feel prepared before I can feel motivated. Keeping myself prepared to write helps me stay motivated to write.
What keeps you motivated to write?
This is the third post in a series on writer’s block.
Part 1: Writer’s Block: Causes and Cures
Part 2: Writer’s Block: Be Prepared
Part 3: Writer’s Block: Take a Break
Part 4: Writer’s Block: Face Your Fears