Positive Psychology posits that a critical attribute of optimism and motivation is awareness and use of resources. In the early days of a writer’s career, they often rely heavily on themselves, which can lead to burnout and self-doubt. As these emotions linger, motivation wanes, making it difficult to stay on top of personal writing goals. By leveraging your resources properly, you can stay motivated to achieve your goals, even over long periods of time.
Using Environment as a Resource
Where you write is one of the most basic and critical elements of your writing life. While you can always write on the go if you need to, it’s also important to consider a more permanent writing environment to welcome you when you’re ready to write. Consider the following:
A clean, dedicated writing space
Having a dedicated writing space is essential, but it’s not always enough. Consider whether your writing space allows for creative thinking. Is it messy and unorganized, or is everything right where it needs to be? Do you have easy access to your resources, or are things spread out and difficult to find? Having a clean and well-organized writing space will eliminate distractions, boost your focus, and maintain your motivation.
Useful writing tools
A good pen and notebook are obviously the gold standard of a good writer, but there are many other resources you might consider having at your fingertips. For example, do you have a calendar readily available that highlights your writing deadlines? What about helpful writing software such as scrivener or Google Docs? Favorable lighting and a good computer are also critical in this category. Make a list of the writing tools you need most and make sure they have a (well-organized) home on your desk or in your computer.
I keep a few additional things lurking around my desk for motivation and inspiration. One is The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. I also keep On Writing by Stephen King handy as well as a stack of books similar to the piece I’m working on. If I get stuck on a scene or piece of dialogue, I have the best advice at my fingertips.
Using Others as a Resource
I used to reject the notion that writing took a tribe. I thought I could accomplish it all on my own, not because I didn’t want help, but because I felt like a burden. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A good tribe will cheer for you, give you advice, and offer you additional resources along the way. Having a support network around you can keep you motivated and accountable to your work. Consider the following options:
Writing clubs are a great way to meet other writers, learn new tips and strategies, and collect valuable feedback on your work. You can find clubs by genre, though mixed-genre clubs offer unique experiences as well. Club sizes vary depending on their structure, but there are always writing groups (I highly recommend Scribblers) where you can meet hundreds of other, like-minded writers. If you’re looking for something more intimate, Local libraries and colleges are a great place to start. If you want something larger or you want to test the waters, there are hundreds of virtual writing clubs online.
At any given time there are HUNDREDS of other writers at more or less the same place in their writing process as you. It’s likely that a majority of these writers are struggling with accountability to their work. Use your writing group to find someone and agree to keep one another accountable. If you aren’t a part of a writing group, you’d be surprised by how far a simple social media post requesting an accountability buddy for another writer will go.
I wouldn’t have gotten where I am without a coach. After two years of struggling with my novel, my coach helped me set goals, stick to them, and finally get to a point where I am ready to query. A good writing coach will not only hold you accountable to your goals, but help you overcome writer’s block, work with you to develop a clear plot, improve the quality of your writing, and so much more. If you have any interest in a writing coach, I would be happy to help!
Using Yourself as a Resource
To bring us full-circle, you are your biggest resource when it comes to your writing. How you schedule and honor your writing time is up to you. It’s also what will ultimately keep you motivated. Consider these 3 tips for resourcing YOU:
Keep a writing date.
Mark a time in your calendar for your writing, and honor that time as you would any other commitment in your life. You can’t browse through your phone in a business meeting, or in therapy, or at the doctor. Eliminate distractions, and stay focused for the duration of your writing date.
Keep your document open and visible.
As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. Keeping the document open on your screen or visible on your desk will remind you keep at it, especially if you find that you have time during lunch or a quick break between meetings.
Try writing sprints.
Writing sprints are an incredible tool for writers who struggle to stay focused for long periods of time (or those of us who are a bit more competitive). All you have to do is set a timer for a specified amount of time and write as much as you can in that time period. They hardest part is to prevent yourself from editing. Just write. The editing will come later.
This article barely scratches the surface on the resources available to writers. Building your awareness around what they are and learning how to leverage them will bolster your motivation and keep you writing long after your predetermined writing dates. Create a comfortable and lively writing space, make connections with other writers, and most importantly, be kind to yourself through the process. Only you can accomplish these goals.
For the Love of Adventure,