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!
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. ?