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What’s the longest you’ve ever spent staring at a blank page (or screen)? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? an hour? Doesn’t writer’s block suck?!
How often do you find yourself on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, or somewhere that’s not writing when writing is what you should be doing?
You’re not alone. All writers occasionally experience distractions, lack of motivation, or a lack of inspiration. We’re only human after all. How you hand those situations is what makes the difference.
Successful writers (and by successful I mean the ones making money) don’t waste a lot of their writing time. After a few minutes of distraction or a few minutes of staring at a blank screen (or page), they do something about it.
There are many techniques you can use to conquer writer’s block. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, you’ll have to experiment and find the technique (or techniques) that work for you.
How to Get Motivated (especially when you’re feeling lazy)
If you’re feeling demotivated, try one of these techniques.
Set a writing goal or deadline and share it.
If people know that you’re supposed to do something, they’ll ask you about it and it’s embarrassing to not be done. Wanting to avoid that embarrassment helps a lot of people stay on track with their goals.
Imagine yourself writing.
I know, sounds a little wooey. But it can work in as little as 2 to 3 minutes.
Close your eyes and take slow deep breaths. Imagine yourself writing. Spend two to three minutes like this and you might just be ready to actually write when you open your eyes.
Join a Writers Group
Talking to other writers can inspire you to write more. A writer’s group will give you a place to talk to people who understand what you’re going through and can offer helpful advice (and a kick in the pants when needed).
Writers groups are available in person (google “Writers Group Your City” or check Facebook). There are also a lot of great online writers groups.
Find one you’re comfortable in and enjoy!
Promise Yourself a Reward
Yeah, I’m advocating you bribe yourself. The key to a good reward in this situation is that it has to be something you want but that you wouldn’t’ give yourself otherwise AND it has to be measurable.
Good rewards (for me) are pizza for dinner (because I don’t order pizza typically), a manicure, or extra time on Reddit.
Alternatively, you can say that if you don’t write X words (or for X amount of time) that you’ll take something away. Punishment is a better motivator for some people.
Good punishments (for me) are extra miles running (I hate running), take away my Reddit time, or no wine for a week.
Create a Pre-Writing Routine or Writing Space
This routine should be a couple of things that you should do every time you sit down to write and no other time.
When I need to write A LOT, I have a special tea I make. I’m so productive when I sit down at my desk with that particular pot of tea. Regular work and writing is coffee for me.
I also sit at my desk when I’m working. If I’m browsing the internet or shopping or banking or anything else, I move my laptop (sometimes just to the other end of the desk, but often to a different room). The desk is workspace so when I sit there I know I should be working.
These are small helpful things that live in your subconscious. Develop one or two that you’ll start to subconsciously recognize when you should be writing.
How to Get Inspired (when you don’t know what to write)
You can use pretty much anything as inspiration: writing blogs, books, movies, music, real-life, Reddit, quotes, history, the news, writing prompts, and more!
Check out my post on Where to Find Creative Writing Inspiration & Ideas for Your Next Novel for a lot more information on the variety of ways you can get inspired. The post includes examples.
Or, if you like writing prompts check out the Daily Writing Prompt Subscription. Get your first month for just $1.
Techniques to Avoid Distractions (AKA bye-bye Social Media)
If you’re motivated but easily distracted, you can try one of these techniques to reduce distractions.
Turn off Your Screen/Monitor
I’ve done this while commuting a few times and can see how it would be beneficial to people who really struggle with distractions.
On a monitor or laptop:
Step 1: open Scrivener (or whatever software you write in).
Step 2: turn the screen brightness down until the screen is black.
Step 3: write for a set amount of time
On a tablet/phone
Step 1: connect a bluetooth keyboard
Step 2: open Scrivener (or whatever software you write in).
Step 3: set your screen to stay on forever!
Step 4: put your device aside (when I do this with my iPad, I close the cover and use it as a table for the keyboard)
Step 5: write for a set amount of time
Declutter Your Writing Space
If you get distracted by looking at things, maybe you need to stare at a blank wall. Clear off your writing space and face something that won’t distract you.
Turn off the Internet (and all your non-writing devices)
Need to do some research? Make a note of it and designate a research time. If it’s not research time, turn off the wifi so that you can’t get distracted from writing.
A friend of mine actually unplugs his router when he’s working, turns his cell off and leaves it in a different room. Or, he has a cafe in town that he doesn’t know the wifi password for (and he won’t ask). He leaves his phone at home and knows he can’t be distracted there.
Apps & Tools to Help
There are some pretty extreme apps and tools available to help you. Here is a selection of some of the most useful.
The Most Dangerous Writing Prompt Generator (free)
Choose an amount of time to write for (7 options between 3 and 60 minutes). Then write without stopping, if you stop all your work is lost.
Available options include:
- Regular mode
- Hardcore Mode which shows you only the current letter and blurs out everything you wrote before.
- Generate a Prompt which provides you a sentence to get you started.
Freedom ($29.04/yr | $6.99/m | $129/lifetime)
Freedom is an app/website blocker (available on most devices). Freedom is packed full of features and options: block websites, block the internet, block apps, whitelists, blocklists, sync across devices, locked mode, and more.
Rescue Time (free +)
Rescue Time is an automated time tracker (available across most devices). It will track where you’re spending time (and how much time). How much time are you wasting on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and other time drains? Rescue Time will tell you – but it’s up to you to become more productive!
Rescue Time has a great free forever version, but if you want more stats and options they have an advanced premium option you can subscribe to.
Forest is a Pomodoro timer (chrome extension, iOS app, Android app). The app works by growing a tree on your phone. If you want to use a different app, you have to kill your tree. Eventually, you’ll grow a forest.
A Few Minutes Maximum
Writing is what makes a writer. You have to get those words down.
Don’t let yourself waste your writing time for more than a few minutes. Try the ideas above until you find the system that works for you!
Did I miss your favorite way to get motived, inspired, or avoid distraction? Let me know in the comments!
Ready to move on? It’s time plotting your novel. Check out Guide to Plot for Aspiring Authors next.
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