I’ve been meaning to write a post about this topic for a while, but, ironically, I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to do so, and now I’m finally pushing myself to get it done.
Motivation can be tricky. It tends to fade over time once we’ve established a routine and the novelty or excitement has worn off. It can be difficult to maintain what motivates us because priorities change. When we put pressure on ourselves to get something done, more often than not it’ll take the enjoyment out of it, thus making the task feel like a chore.
That got me thinking about what motivates us. Specifically, when it comes to writing, there can be many motivators, but the key one always seems to point directly to the same goal. Why am I writing this blog post, for instance? It’s simple: to get you to read it.
Writing is hard. Everyone knows that. It’s long and tedious and filled with second-guessing and re-writing and tweaking and editing, not to mention all the self-loathing that tends to creep in, whether intended or not. I, myself, am my own worst critic when it comes to my writing. What seemed like a really funny, clever idea from the start turns into a muddled mess of questioning and overanalyzing and ultimate frustration when I get down to actually writing a story or script or even a blog post—if I even write it at all, that is.
What I’ve come to realize about myself is that my motivation to write has become much more fleeting. The spark of inspiration I get when I think of a new story idea tends to fizzle out before I even get the opportunity to put my ideas into words and physically sit down and type out a first draft. And the reason is because I second-guess myself before actually giving myself the opportunity to write it. Thus, in my head it stays, a mere glimmer of an idea.
I don’t mean to sound bleak or overdramatic when I say that. I simply mean that it’s hard to stay motivated. I allow my frustrations with my writing to get the best of me, the fact that I’m almost never as satisfied with a final product as I am with an initial idea. I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the creative field tend to be critical of themselves yet will gladly sing the praises of other people’s work. Why is that, I wonder? Why can’t we love our own work, not be hard on ourselves and, most importantly, not lose the motivation to write before we even get started?
What I think it comes down to is that it’s truly important to embrace every single step of the writing process: planning a story, perhaps writing an outline before writing the first draft and letting it breathe a bit before going back and tearing it apart and re-writing and re-writing and ideally getting feedback and then re-writing some more to make it the best as we can hope it would be.
Therefore, when we lack motivation, when we just don’t feel like writing, when we’re being hard on ourselves or feeling unhappy with how our work is turning out, it’s important to remember our motivation. The excitement of getting it out into the world, whether on the internet, or as a book, or even simply sharing it with friends or colleagues to get their opinions and insight.
It’s normal to get frustrated. It’s normal to feel like giving up. But if we do, then we really do lose. We lose the opportunity to improve our writing. We lose the opportunity to share our work. We lose the opportunity for others to get excited about what we’ve created. We lose the joy of wanting to share our stories with the world because of fear or self-doubts.
So the next time you feel unmotivated to write because it’s annoying or you’re sick of your project or you’re unhappy with it thus far, just remember your end goal: to get people to read it. You can’t get it published if it isn’t finished. Think about how excited you feel when your favorite author releases a new book. Imagine how much hard work he or she has put into the book and how long it must’ve taken to write. That process is true for everyone. Don’t get dejected if you’re not there yet, or if you feel your writing isn’t good enough. Try to let go of all those negative feelings associated with writing by focusing on that spark of inspiration that got you excited about your idea in the first place. And when it’s all done, even if it’s not perfect and you’ll need to revise it over and over, at the very least, you’ll have learned from the experience and will not only improve your writing as a result but help with your confidence as a writer.
Now, get writing!