Writing a novel from start to finish requires writing consistently. Learning how to get in the mood to write even when motivation is low will ensure you finish. Try these 9 tips:
1: Spend ten minutes freewriting daily
Freewriting is a powerful tool for getting yourself into a productive frame of mind. It also helps you develop an essential skill for drafting – switching off your internal editor.
Sit for ten minutes at the start of every writing session and write anything that comes into your head. Write it down, no matter how trivial or ridiculous it seems. Give yourself this freedom to just write because it will help you avoid being so concerned over the quality of your draft that you get stuck.
It’s helpful to start with a specific topic when you freewrite. If the story you’re working on currently focuses on a theme (such as ‘family’, for example), decide that this will be the subject for your freewriting session. In the process, you might find sentences or even paragraphs you can use verbatim.
2: Create an inspiring writing space
Ideally, as committed writers, we can write anywhere. If you can, though, create a dedicated writing space too. A nook that is reserved for your creative play, one that is inviting and contains inspiring quotes and objects (or one that gives you a minimalist, distraction-free environment) will help you get into the writing mood when you feel unmotivated or stuck.
3: Dip into a journal of favourite writing quotes
If you don’t do this already, start now. Every time you read a book, if you read a sentence that makes you say to yourself ‘this is so true’ or ‘that’s beautiful’, write it down.
Finding pearls in your reading as you go helps you become a more active reader. You will notice more and more the craft of other writers. Copying out their most brilliant sentences helps you learn how to create similar effects in your own work.
Keep your quotes journal in your writing space. Page through for inspiration whenever you feel as though you aren’t in the mood to write.
4: Block your writing time for the week
Learning how to get into the mood to write daily is almost impossible if you never make time to write.
Each week, block your writing time on a blank calendar. On Harlequin romance publishers’ blog, they recommend using different colours for scheduling different aspects of writing – drafting, revising or self-promotion.
Dividing up your available time to write this way is making a conscious commitment to your craft. If you consistently set aside time you’ll have fewer days where writing feels like an option you can leave for next week.
5: Get in the mood to write by setting yourself playful exercises or constraints
Bringing an element of play into your writing practice is a great way to get into the writing mood. Try making fun exercises out of writing scenes. One way to do this is by creating constraints. For example, you could write a scene and set yourself the requirement that it takes place entirely in an elevator.
Creating rules for a scene can be paradoxically liberating. You’re forced to find creative alternatives to any disallowed crutches, for one. This was the principle behind the experimental French writing collective OuLiPo. The group devised constraints as a way to unlock creativity. Placing constraints on setting, word use and other elements forces the writer to find interesting alternatives.
In Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees (1957), for example, the author decided as a starting rule for setting the story would explore the life of a boy who climbs into treetops and never comes down for the remainder of the story.
6: Get constructive writing feedback
When you have constructive feedback to anticipate, it’s easier to get into a writing frame of mind. Even on days where you don’t feel like writing, its easier to sit down and produce when you are accountable to others who are rooting for you to continue your story.
On Now Novel, you can get helpful feedback as you go that will help you to stay in the mood to write. Inbetween writing sessions, critiquing others’ work also helps you understand more what you like and dislike and why some pieces of writing just work while others are gruelling.
7: Leave and resume mid-sentence
Another strategy to ensure that you are always in the mood to write is to leave off and resume your draft mid-sentence. Resist the urge to complete a section and leave off at a point of intrigue or suspense. It will make you eager to return and continue forging onwards.
Ernest Hemingway offered similar writing advice when he said that you should always leave off and return while you still know where the story is heading.
8: Set small, attainable writing goals
Aspiring authors sometimes email us, saying they haven’t been in the mood to write. Unrealistic expectations of the writing process can play a part in this. If you find that you’re putting off writing a lot, it could be that you’ve set yourself goals that feel impossible.
It’s easier to get into the mood to write, even on uninspired days, when you have a smaller immediate goal that is almost tangible. Writing one scene (as opposed to an entire chapter) is something you can achieve in a single sitting.
Break up your novel into manageable tasks and you’ll find the writing mood will stay more constant.
9: Reward yourself for reaching milestones
It’s easier to stay in the mood to write and make progress when you’re acknowledging the actual progress you make on a regular basis. Reward yourself for reaching important milestones, such as finishing a chapter. Your reward doesn’t need to be lavish or involve money. It could be half an hour’s walk somewhere serene or a catchup with friends.
Jennifer Blanchard (founder of the Procrastinating Writers blog) puts it thus:
‘If you know writing 500 words comes with a reward, but watching TV for an hour doesn’t, which activity are you more likely to choose?’
Commit now to write 500 words per day and reward yourself when you meet your target. After, you can submit your extract for helpful critique from Now Novel’s writing commmunity.
Do you have tips or tricks to share on how to get into the mood to write when feeling uninspired? Share them in the comments.
8 replies on “How to get in the mood to write daily: 9 tips”
Wow! Now I feel ok! I write short business articles – purely because it’s part of my vocation. My desire is to write a series of novels…but…I always thought that because I felt so flat when trying to put the story together that I am not cut out for this. I honestly didn’t realise that writers have the need to ‘get into the mood’
This article has given me hope that I am not trying to do something that I’m not cut out for but rather that it is something I have reprograme mybody and mind to do.
Great stuff, Vicky! That’s what Now Novel is here for 🙂
Odd that this should turn up in my inbox when I have found myself lagging behind on a novel writing course, some great tips here
Thanks Sue, glad it was timely! All the best for your course.
Personally, I reward myself with chocolate chips. When I finish a paragraph, I get one. And stopping mid-sentence? Genius! I need to try that.
Thanks, J. That sounds like a fun way to develop a disciplined routine.
I listen to music of films in a similar genre. Eg I’m writing a fantasy novel so I listen to the Soundtracks of Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, Skyrim, Beyond, etc. Listen to this while you get any admin tasks out the way that might distract you (facebook, emails etc), then write a to do list of the things you need to do that day to get them out of your head.
You could also read back on your last chapter/your favourite chapter with music playing.
Pick any scene you’ve previously planned that sounds fun/interesting to write and have a go. You can delete it if its rubbish…but it may get you going.
Another thing: you don’t have to write your novel in chapter order. Don’t always pick the funnest chapters…otherwise you’ll be left with a whole chunk of difficult ones to write and you’ll never finish it.
My trouble is tapping into the character when I’m not in the writing mood. I end up creating an entirely new character or writing a character that is really bland. I have character block. So reading back on my previous work really helps me.
Great advice, Maddy. Thanks for sharing your process. ‘Character block’ is an interesting way of putting it.