IWSG: Staying Motivated for the Road Ahead

Writing a novel is a lot like an endurance sport. You start out on a high with big dreams and lofty goals. Then you try to set up a routine and realize this is hard. Once you manage a routine (that inevitably falls apart from time to time) you have periods where you’re flying through your draft and feel great. Then you hit a hard patch and struggle to slog through another day. As the slow patch continues, doubts set in. Can I do this? Am I really a writer? What am I doing?

The truth is you have to push through the tough times just like an athlete would. However, like your athletic counterpart, you should have a plan to keep you motivated.

Here are some tips to keep you speeding to a finished novel.

Success Go get it written on a chalkboardBelieve you can do it. Remember you are a writer and you can crush this!

Change pace. Athletes use circuit training. Do the same. If you feel stuck, switch to another project or form of writing to break up the monotony of working through your novel. Try haiku with NaHaiWriMo’s daily prompts or flash fiction. It’s hard to talk yourself out of the time investment of a short form of writing.

Break it down. If you are feeling overwhelmed break down what needs to get done into smaller goals and work toward those smaller goals.

Work with a trainer. You may be lucky enough to have a mentor as your own personal trainer, but most of us don’t. However, there are so many resources, workshops, and conferences, that can give you guidance. Some can even be done from the comforts of home.

Girl boxer kissing her gloveFake it ‘til you make it. Figure out what being an author means to you and start acting like one. Emulate those who you would like to be, but remember to pick a reasonable first step.

Get a buddy. Pushing through the slog can be hard alone. Find a writing buddy to help keep you accountable. Set check-ins and share goals. Talk through your problems. There is nothing like having someone by your side through it.

Hone in. Stick with one task for your work and complete it before moving on to the next one.

Bribe yourself. Nothing can motivate you better than you. Is there a new dress you want? New pen? Don’t pick it up until you reach a goal you have set.

Stretch your creative muscles. Do some other creative endeavor and don’t worry about how it turns out. Being creative in another medium can bring inspiration. You aren’t a painter so its fine if your “masterpiece” looks like a toddler’s finger painting.

Experience the world around you. Listen to the different tones in a gust of wind or the sound of someone walking on the pavement. Taste the air during a snowstorm. Feel how the warmth of the sun soaks through your clothes. We create worlds for others. Experience your world with purpose.

a cocker spaniel wearing a fake nose and glassesTake time to recharge. Read, watch, do whatever it takes to recharge your creative batteries. You wouldn’t run after starving yourself or not sleeping for days. Don’t let yourself write on empty either.

Laugh. Keep your good humor throughout the journey. Laughter releases endorphins and serotonin giving you a feeling of love and happiness. Why deprive yourself? Don’t rely on finding something humorous. Just laugh. There is an entire yoga practice (hasya yoga) that incorporates laughter, and if you are struggling to laugh at nothing, watch a session of laughter yoga; it might help.

Writing should bring you joy, even though it won’t always be fun. Enjoy the journey as well as the end product.

Photo Credits

Main Image: California Road by 12019

Success by Gerd Altmann

Confident Boxer by  Matheus Ferrero

Dog in Disguise by Braydon Anderson

Pinterest Image: Road Ahead by Casey Horner

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG’s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

To join, simply sign up by clicking on the button below and adding your name to the linky list. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and visit your fellow bloggers to lend your support.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 7 posting of the IWSG are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner.

This month’s optional question: “How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story?”

By |2018-03-07T15:00:54-05:00March 7th, 2018|Life, Writing|9 Comments

About the Author:

Writer, Software Engineer, modern-day Renaissance woman and eternal student


  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh March 8, 2018 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Recharging is important. So is changing up. I work out every day and if I do the same thing every time, it’s no longer effective.
    Welcome to the IWSG!

  2. Diane Burton March 8, 2018 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Very good advice. I forget about changing by trying something else. Welcome to IWSG. I hope to see you next month. I loved the advice you gave me.

    • Erika Timar March 9, 2018 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the warm welcome, Diane. I am still structuring my schedule to include the IWSG hop, but I have every intention of moving forward with it.

  3. Raimey Gallant March 9, 2018 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Such great advice. I started reading it… “you have periods…” That’s a full stop for me. I have periods. That’s what slows me down. 🙂

  4. Gwen Gardner March 11, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Great advice! It’s important to going until the end. That way you can regroup and figure out the finishing touches! Happy IWSG Day!

  5. Victoria Marie Lees March 11, 2018 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    These are AWESOME tips to staying motivated, Erika. Thank you so much for sharing these. I already change up what I’m working on now and again, but laughing is a new one for me. I also need downtime now and again. I must remember that…I say as I’ve just come from a vacation.

  6. Chrys Fey March 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    These are all wonderful tips for struggling writers. Thank you!

  7. […] enjoying the sun, regardless of what my allergies may say. Although I use my community to help stay motivated, most days it is a struggle to sit down and […]

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