Amateur writers think that if they don’t want to write, they shouldn’t; you can’t force inspiration, right?
I like people like that. While they’re busy struggling, I’m busy soaring.
Of course, I’m just kidding. I want to help writers like that. That’s why I’m writing this post!
No, you can’t force inspiration. But you can channel and encourage inspiration, and drop the belief that you need to feel inspired every time you write.
Professional writers don’t wait for inspiration to compel them to the keyboard. They discipline themselves to write even when they don’t have those creative blasts of writing utopia.
For the first two months of this year, I actually dreaded writing.
I’ll talk more about that in another post about the importance of parental support in your writing, but during that time, I did learn some valuable tips about disciplining myself to write anyway.
Following are the tips I put into practice to help me crank out words even when I was hating it, and thus came out a better, stronger writer.
1. Are You Taking Your Writing Seriously?
If writing is just a fun hobby for you, don’t worry about writing when you don’t feel like it! You can throw discipline and motivation out the window.
During my writing-for-fun stage, I started hundreds of stories, but only finished five first drafts. ? And boy, was it ever fun.
But what if writing is your calling in life? I know it’s mine. God said it is.
When the going gets tough, do you keep going? How seriously do you take your writing? Are you committed to it enough that you’ll sit down and write even through the hard days?
2. Create a Consistent Writing Schedule
To avoid schedule conflicts, you need to create a consistent writing schedule.
Even if it’s only 15 minutes a day, be consistent with it. This will:
- instill an everyday writing habit in you
- train your brain to say “okay, it’s writing time now!”
- make you feel less guilty about taking time to write
This will blow a lot of your problems out of the water. The only reason I struggled so much about forcing myself to write during the first two months of 2018 was because I didn’t have a writing schedule.
Talk to your parents about a realistic writing schedule that works for both of you. Be sure to pray about it, too; my parents would never let me stay up during the night to write if God hadn’t assured them that it was best!
3. Snippet War
And even after I had my dream writing schedule, sometimes it was hard to make those words come.
That’s where writing buddies come in! Since Josie and I were both writing our WIPs at the time, we conducted snippet wars.
What’s a snippet war?
A snippet war is when you and a writing buddy (or buddies) comment snippets from your stories back and forth. This is extremely motivating.
She comments the newest line of her WIP; you are quickly forced to write one to respond with. And while you’ve been writing that one, she’s been writing another snippet to respond back with!
Here’s an example of a snippet in action (at the time of this screenshot, I was writing a short story, not my WIP):
(Ignore the “Xander: Then it’s not fun.” We were roleplaying at the same time. XD)
It’s super fun to force yourself to write with a buddy like this, and to comment on each other’s snippets.
However, some writers aren’t comfortable with people seeing their brand-new work without editing it first. In that case…
4. Word Sprint
Those timed, adrenaline-laced and competition-fueled moments where you do nothing but barf on the page for as fast as you can in hopes of grinding your fellow sprinters’ word counts in the dirt. MWAHAHAHA!
Ahem. I wrote all about word sprints here.
Even though I don’t word sprint anymore for quality’s sake, there were a few times where I just had to stop worrying about how things sounded and get the stinking scene on the page.
I did sacrifice a little quality, but it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought.
When you’re really stuck, get competitive, get going, and get fast with word sprints!
5. Word Crawl
And if sprinting’s not your thing? Taken from TobyMac’s awesome “‘Til the Day I Die (feat. NF)”…
Blood, sweat, tears, it’s a calling. And if I can’t walk, then I’m crawling…
Can’t sprint? Don’t stop. Crawl!
The NaNoWriMo forum has these cool things called word crawls. You go about your day and, according to the circumstances, write a certain amount of words.
Here’s a quick example based off one I saw last year.
- You wake up. For each pillow on your bed, write 10 words.
- You get dressed. If you take a shower, write 100 words.
- You eat breakfast. For each item (toast, egg, milk, etc.), write 20 words.
- If you did school, write 100 words for each subject.
- Etc., etc.
I tried this last year, actually, and while it didn’t work for me too well, I know a lot of people love them.
There are a ton of different word crawls out there. Here’s an extremely cool Cinderella choose-your-own adventure word crawl (for each choice you make in the story, you have to write a certain amount of words). Bonus points if you can find my comment on there.
Check all of them out here! (You have to log into your NaNoWriMo account to view it.)
(I don’t go on the NaNo forum often, so when I logged in, I had 26 private messages. ? To everyone who added me to their buddy list, sorry for the delay! I added you back.)
6. Turn the Faucet On
The following is a Camp Care Package I wrote for my cabin last April:
I hate trying to build my consistency.
It’s hard. It requires a lot of effort and discipline.
But as any successful author will tell you, consistency is the key to their success.
During Camp, we’re building our consistency by aiming to finish our goals in 30 days. That requires us to be consistent (or procrastinating and then cramming the final week, which isn’t any fun!).
But when our goals seem daunting and other parts of life call for our attention, how do we tackle our goals day by day?
My biggest tip: “Turn the faucet on” by just committing to a bite-sized fraction of your goal.
Take a minute to stop and think about the next teeny-tiny chunk you can take out of your project.
Commit to just a few words, 1/8 of a page, or a couple minutes of your goal. Make it a small commitment. It won’t be that much.
Then sit down, read what you’ve previously written or turn on some inspiring music, and get ready to do that small thing you committed to do.
It’s small, right? It’s easy.
But oh… you’re already immersed in your story world now. You’re already sitting down at your desk. And you just wrote a sentence or a section of a page or put in a couple minutes. Might as well do a few more.
The ball is rolling now! The faucet is turned on. Now that you’ve gotten started, it’s harder to stop. So you keep going.
Before you know it, you’ll be knocking out today’s goal.
It can be daunting to sit down and work when you’ve got so much else going on and so much to write. I know the feeling. I hate it.
But if you commit to a bite-sized fraction of your goal, you’ll be more motivated to get started on it. It won’t take that long, and once you’ve gotten started… it’s all downhill from there!
So don’t sweat it! Get started with something tiny and watch yourself put out more work than you thought.
7. List Reasons & Debunk Excuses
I haven’t been able to get enough sleep for the past few months (even when not doing nightly writing) and my body is fighting an autoimmune disorder. So the last thing I wanted to do this afternoon was write this post and the first thing I wanted to do was lie down on the couch and take a never-ending nap.
Instead, I listed all the reasons I needed to finish this post, and—the funnest part, in my opinion—debunked all the excuses with epic quotes and strategies!
Reasons I Need to Write This Post:
- If I don’t, I won’t have anything to post on Wednesday.
- If you’re not consistent, you’re nonexistent.
- If I don’t, I won’t be able to check it off my to-do list.
- I’m too epic and committed to be lazy.
- Training myself to finish things will make finishing the next project easier.
- My back hurts. I want to lie down. // I’m trained to work with the pressure of pain. >:D
- I’m tired. // Another round of green tea. It’s all mental; start thinking and declaring you have energy. Your brain’ll believe you eventually.
- I don’t wannaaa // But I wanna make my post more awesome than my rival’s. I don’t play this game to lose; I like to win! Success in every breath as I proceed. >:)
(Ideally, you want to be less arrogant, but if it’s how you motivate yourself… go for it! ? Just keep the arrogance hush-hush. ?)
Can you believe I almost always forget this tip?
I am here to help you.
– God, Isaiah 41:13
God is very much interested in your writing.
Whether it’s a hobby or a calling, as long as you’re not writing when you’re supposed to be doing something for your parents or writing something full of trash, He wants to help you succeed!
God jumps at the chance to help someone honoring Him with their gifts and talents. Don’t hesitate to ask Him for help! That’s what He’s here for.
(Uninitiated? Get full access to this tip and a lot of other things like eternal salvation by clicking here.)
9. Just Do It
I just adore Nike’s slogan. (And then Under Armour’s comeback “I will.”).
Grit your teeth, gather up your resolve and determination, and grind those words out (or outline/edit/read; whatever your writing session may include today).
Serious writing isn’t for the lazy. Get out there and rip procrastination to shreds!
Am I helpful? Hover over me to pin!
Click on the image to enlarge it so you can read it better.
I Challenge You
Have you written yet today? No? Take a few minutes, pick one of these tips, and write. Just write. Then tell me how it went in the comments below. If a sleep-deprived, sickness-battling-but-winning teenager can do it, so can you!
Expert challenge: Can you beat me? This post has 1,772 words, all written today. ?
Madi. You just saved my life. I wasn’t feeling like writing so I stalled by checking my email. Then I saw your post, and now I’m going to go write. THANK YOU!
YAYYY EMMIE! I hope you have an awesome time writing!
Eek, I have written in like a week. Ugh. Well I’ll TRY to write on the way to the grocery store. XD
You can do it! Sometimes I have to write in the car, too.
XD XD I actually did, I only got like one paragraph written though. My dad was trying to talk to me. XD
Trying to write and have a conversation is all new amounts of difficult. XD
Great post! At this point in my life, I’m not writing seriously (though I hope to someday), so I don’t force myself through dry spells of inspiration. But, I wanted to comment anyway cause I thought this post was great and can help other people out a lot! 🙂
Thanks, Olivia! For sure; writing for just fun should be 100% fun. (And I didn’t mean to imply that you’re amateur/don’t have discipline; I meant writers who want to be serious but don’t want to do the work ?) Thanks for commenting!
Yes! And oh no, I didn’t mean to imply that you implied that, haha. 😉
Oh, phew! ?
I’m not keeping track of my writing from today, but I did a bunch of writing on paper. ? I want to work on The Storm Inside though, so we’ll see about that.
Writing on paper is very freeing! Good luck on TSI; it’ll be great.
AWESOME, GIRL!!! I started writing a crossover fanfic today, lemme check how many words… 299?!? NOOO. But I also wrote some of my Fanfiction series, but I actually wrote it on paper and I don’t want to have to count the words myself. ???? As for my novel, I’m still outlining. (BTW, I UNDERSTAND SCENES A LOT BETTER NOW AND WAS ABLE TO LECTURE MY LITTLE BROTHER ON IT! ???? HE DIDN’T REALLY CARE BUT OH WELL IT WAS GREAT!!! THANKS AGIAN, MADI!!)
Thanks so much, Hope! OOH YAY! 299 words is 299x better than 0 words. ? And oh my goodness, YAAAY! Isn’t scene structure so fascinating? You are so welcome!
Gosh Madi, you’re so optimistic! I’M SO JEALOUS.
I challenge myself to be optimistic in every case! It’s serious fun.
This was a great post! I loved it and it really helped me because often I don’t feel like writing, even though I really should.
Also, I love the song “Till the Day I Die” It is so wonderful and really speaks the truth.
Thanks, Carlye! Same here. It’s always a discipline to write when I don’t feel like it. Me too! It’s such an epic song.
Great post, Madi! I like all the tips! ??
Thanks so much, Caleb!
“But what if writing is your calling in life? I know it’s mine. God said it is.”
I’d really like to believe God called me to write too! I’m almost sure I was given this gift for a reason, since nobody in my classes could ever write as well as me…lol.
I didn’t pin your photo (sorries ?) but I did save it to my laptop, and when I get home from my vacation, I’ll print it and hang it on my desk. I’ve been watching way more YouTube then writing and I’m ashamed of it ?
Thanks again Madi!
I’ll totally bet you are! You’ve published books before, right?
WHY U NOT PIN MY PHOTO. Just kidding ?? Awww, that means so much! I hope it’s a helpful reminder! Oh my goodness, yeah, distractions are everywhere. I text more than write. ?
Also, I’m pretty sure I can beat you! During Camp NaNo, at least. ?
Ooh, competition! Bring it on! ?
So rude. I’m being sent to bed and you challenge me to beat you in writing. ? *sigh* it’ll have to wait until tomorrow….
(I had to give myself the ‘you’re too epic to give up now’ pep talk this afternoon when I started having a breakdown doing algebra today…it kinda worked??? I finished it without crying TOO much)
Most crazily, ~Olive
HEHE IT’S TOMORROW. ARE YOU GOING TO BEAT ME.
Pep talks are so helpful! Awww, I hope you’re feeling better now. Math doesn’t make me feel so good, either.
This was such a great post, Madi!!!! Thank you!! <3 Also I'm praying for you, being sick is no fun 🙁
Aww, thank you so much, Liz! I’m so glad you liked it And thank you so much for praying. ❤️
Also, I got your email! I can’t reply to it today, but I’ll reply ASAP.
I needed to read this. Thank you!!
Thank you so much for reading, Laura!
awesome post madi!! I’ll definitely have to try some of these tactics sometime. 😉
Thanks so much, Carol! If you ever try them, let me know how it goes.
This is SUPER helpful!
Yay, I’m so glad!
This is exactly the predicament I’ve been in. I haven’t felt like writing, so I haven’t. Thank you so much for reminding me that I should, even on the days when my mind is uninspired. And I LOVE that TobyMac song!! *has a fan-girl moment* XD
Aww, yay! I hope you get tons of writing done! Thank you so much, Kendra. (Me too! His stuff is awesome. XD)
OM me too Kendra!
[…] blog. At all. In fact Madi just made a post about this, that you should totally go check out here. It’s meant for writing novel’s, but honestly I think it applies to blogging a little […]
Thank you for this! This is a problem with me often, but at the current stage of my life, I simply have no time. I am hoping Camp NaNo will help me swing back in, if only for a month. 🙂
It’s always tough to try to write when life takes up all your time! But yes, Camp NaNo is super great for getting back into it.
HELPFULNESS IS THY NAME, MADI.
WAIT… I THOUGHT MADI WAS MY NAME. ?
OH, YEAH, THAT TOO.
Wow, this is a great post! Definitely helpful. 🙂
Thanks so much, Anastasia!
This is so inspiring, Madi!
Thanks for reading, Victoria!
Thanks for the tips, Madison!
You bet, Abigail! Sorry for my late reply.
1772 words? I wrote 2134. Draft 1 of my second book is almost over! (It’s around 92,000 words right now.) 🙂
CONGRATULATIONS, you beat me! And good luck with finishing your first draft of your second book — that’s amazing!