12 Ways to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Writing Goals
Let’s be honest: Life is very challenging right now.
We’re all living under the cloud of this pandemic. Some of you have lost your jobs. Some of you can’t work as a nurse right now because of your own medical frailty – or that of someone who lives with you.
People are facing evictions, utility shut-offs, and having to school their children at home. Not to mention cohabitating 24 hours a day with a spouse as you both try to work from home.
Can you say “stressed”??
During these types of challenging times, it’s easy to lose focus on our larger goals. What seemed important at holiday time last year may now feel frivolous.
Believe me, this affects me, too.
Although I haven’t experienced nearly the same level of stress that many of you have, I nonetheless feel…constrained. Suffocating, almost. I worry that I, too, could lose my livelihood at any moment. I used to write for the joy of it, and now I feel like I’m writing for my life sometimes.
Despite all of this, I launched the RN2writer website, workshop, and (soon) coaching. It has taken a monumental effort on my part to design all of the moving parts involved and coordinate them.
Huge shout-out to my assistant, Erin, whose organizational skills really are the secret that have made all this possible.
Some people ask me where I find the motivation to continue not just working but achieving new things during this awful time we’re living through.
Well, one answer is that I practice good motivational habits.
You can do the same thing – to achieve your writing goals or anything else.
But what works for me won’t necessarily work for you, because the key to staying motivated lies in knowing yourself: what inspires you to act, what demotivates you, what irresistible force drives you.
Only you can answer those questions.
To help you find the motivation to achieve your writing goals – or anything else – I’ve put together this list of 12 strategies I’ve used (or currently use) to maintain my own motivation.
1. Find your WHY
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you aren’t crystal clear on WHY you want to become a writer, then it will never happen.
2. Find your motivational triggers
This is closely related to #1. Be perfectly candid with yourself about what truly motivates you in life. Is it money? Is it how others perceive you? Is it leisure time for yourself? When you figure out your motivational triggers, then you can use them to drive your writing career forward.
3. Make sure you’re not chasing someone else’s goal
I’ve known med school students who became MDs simply because their parents wanted them to. Once they had their degree, they left medicine to pursue their true passion. Don’t allow other people’s goals become your own. Make sure the goal you’re pursuing really is the one YOU want.
4. Picture yourself as a successful writer
What does this look like to you? Does it look like rising at 10am and sipping a leisurely cup of coffee before sitting down at your sumptuous mahogany desk? Does it look like signing books for fans queued up in a long line? Does it look like you on vacation in Italy, thanks to your fat bank account? Visualization is a powerful tool for achieving goals. Ask any Olympic athlete.
5. Create a roadmap
How do you intend to get where you want to go? Your roadmap to your goal should include many short “driving legs” between Point A and Point B. If you simply focus on making it to the next rest stop – and then the next one – then before you know it you’ll have arrived at your destination.
6. Reward yourself
I’m huge on rewards and find them very motivational. Hell, I reward myself with a square of dark chocolate every time I clean my kitchen! As you create the roadmap (intermediate tasks and goals) outlined above, pencil in a LOT of rewards for yourself. It’s not nearly as motivating to strive for a goal like “finish the filing” than it is to strive toward a reward like “have a Cosmopolitan.”
7. Establish a routine
Whether for working on your writing business or something else, like going to the gym, establishing the habit as a routine helps reduce the need for outright motivation. If you get in the habit of closing yourself in your office every Saturday from nine to noon, pretty soon you won’t need much extrinsic motivation to accomplish it.
8. Create a vision board
Creating a graphic reminder for yourself about where you want to go with your writing career – and what that success looks like – can be a powerful driver.
9. Let go of perfectionism
One of my favorite authors, Voltaire (seriously, I read Candide annually), said it first and best: “Perfect is the enemy of done.” Well, he didn’t actually say that, but he made a similar point. Nothing thwarts motivation like a desire to get things perfect. Instead, devote yourself to doing things messy. I’m a fan of messy. Messy denotes action.
10. Cultivate community
It’s hard not to stay motivated if you regularly commune with other people pursuing the same goal. Writers’ communities can keep you motivated, help you overcome obstacles, and provide accountability.
When your motivation flags, read something to inspire you again. Don’t view reading when you “should be” working as a waste of your time; consider it an investment in your future success.
12. Reevaluate constantly
Here’s a secret: Your WHY can change over time. Your motivational triggers can change over time. If you get stuck in a serious period of demotivation, start back at the top of this list and reevaluate everything.