Most who write find themselves filled with anxiety and self-criticism as they pen their paragraphs and compare it to those authors who inspired them to write. And then there’s always the frustration that comes when the right word (or even no words) won’t come.
As Karl Iagnemma, an MIT roboticist who also happens to be an acclaimed fiction writer, once said, “A lot of people, when they think about writers, probably imagine people wasting time in cafés, drinking a lot and smoking too many cigarettes, and working when the inspiration – whatever that is – seizes them. But writing is rigorous. Writing, for me at least, takes a lot of concentrated work and effort. It takes dedication and the willingness to do the work even when that feeling of inspiration isn’t there at all.”
Writing may be hard work, but the rewards are worth the effort. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can get motivated to write:
• Keep a project “bible” – Create a notebook of reference materials in a 3-ring binder of loose-leaf paper. Often “inspiration” will strike on one of those ideas. At least it gives you a collection of ideas you can go back to when you don’t know what to write about.
• Keep a daily log – Track how many words you write and challenge yourself to top it the next day.
• Keep a journal – Often the kernels of stories later can be found in your journal.
• Keep in touch with fellow writers – They can offer encouragement and provide advice when you’re stuck.
• Start with free-writing – Maybe when driving you see a billboard that gives you an idea for a vacation. The same can occur when writing – sometimes when writing aimlessly you develop an idea that can be turned into a story.
• Begin your writing by revising work already completed and continue onward – At the very least, you’ve polished your past day’s work and may have identified trouble spots that you need to mull over to solve.
• Stop at a good point – If you’ve had a productive writing session, put down the pen at a point where you already know what you want to write next. You will not be stymied when starting the next day.
• Keep plugging along – No matter the quality of your work or how low your sales are, don’t stop writing. The biggest mistake those who want to be writers can make is to not write.
A few writers employ rituals to help them get started writing. But most don’t as the rituals only delay the actual hard work of writing. As Isaac Asimov once said when asked about rituals, “Rituals? Ridiculous! My only ritual is to sit close enough to the typewriter so that my fingers touch the keys.”
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