11 tips: How to write even when you don’t want to

This week we have a guest post for you by writer and blogger Ben Schmitt of The Authors’ Nook. Ben offers some practical advice on how to write a book when you’re lacking in motivation:

Do you enjoy writing, but every once and a while it’s the last thing in the world you want to do?

If so, you’re not alone.

You’re just suffering from something called being human. Sometimes it’s balmy, but the side effects can be extreme. Some subjects reported self-loathing, impulsive comparison, and apathy.


Writing a novel


To be honest, writing this blog post was the last thing I wanted to do today. I’m tired, and I want a nap and a good book. I forced myself into the local coffee shop and told myself when I’m done, my reward will be a nap and a book.

I’m a strict task master.

If you want to be a serious writer, you need to write when you don’t feel like it. Which for me, unfortunately, is more often than I would like to admit.

Here are some tips that have helped me overcome “being human.”

1. Surround yourself with motivated people

Because, science.

You become like the company you keep. If you hang around people who are driven and exercise willpower, statistically you will be more successful.


Writing motivation


2. Make Writing Your Job

Block off time in your calendar to do your job. And set up consequences for when you don’t follow the schedule. You need accountability to reach the goals you set. [Ed’s note: This is one of the reasons for choosing a writing mentor].

When you break the rules, sometimes you need a spanking. (No, I was not making a 50 Shades of Grey reference. Apologies for any confusion.)

3. Find Your Favorite Writing Spot

Sometimes, your surroundings inspire creativity. When you feel comfortable, you’re more likely to focus and be productive.

4. Find the Best Time to Write

It turns out that there’s scientific backing to “early birds” and “night owls.” Night owls’ brains are wired differently, affecting their circadian rhythms. Write during the time of the day you feel energized.

I used to feel pressured by other authors to write in the morning, as if the morning was reserved for the upper echelon of creative thinkers. I soon discovered that before 11am, my prose are as elegant as an elephant fart.

Now I wait until after 5pm to write. No shame.

5. Accept That it’s Hard and Sometimes it Hurts

Don’t shy away from your emotions when you feel overwhelmed. Accept that it’s natural. Every writer feels it. Sometimes I indulge in moments of blissful self-pity, stopping just shy of wallowing.

I never let myself wallow. It’s a fine line and I have no idea where the line is. I just like to think I don’t wallow.

6. Read

Reading is the single best thing you can do to improve your writing. Each book in your genre is a free manual to you saying, “This is what your demographic enjoys.”


Reading a book


7. Rediscover Why You’re Writing

There’s power in “why.”

Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t say “I have a plan.” Instead, he shared a dream. He shared why we need to change. And people rallied to his call because they shared his belief.

Rediscover your why, and it just might re-spark that initial excitement you felt when you started your project.

8. Show Up

If you don’t write habitually, then of course you’re not going to want to write when you need to.

Show up to your writing nook, disconnect from the internet (no researching when it’s writing time, if you listen to music, use your cell phone) and sit there in boredom. Eventually you’ll write.


Writing desk


9. Stop Multitasking

In 2001, Dr. David E. Meyer and his colleagues conducted a study on the levels of productivity when switching between tasks. They found that when tasks are complex (writing and researching are complex) switching between them cost up to 40% of the test subject’s productivity.

When writing, write. When researching, research. If you mix the two, then you’ll be less effective at both.

10. Channel Your Grumpy Mood

Put your bad mood into your writing. It will alter the moods and decisions of your characters when you write grumpy. It can give your story a change of pace.

Sometimes you’ll unearth a gem.

11. Write Anyways

Suck it up.


Even if you suffer from “being human” just like me, you can overcome writer’s block, apathy, and wanting to do anything else under the sun aside from writing.

This feeling doesn’t make you a bad writer. Recognize that it’s natural, set up strict guidelines to hold yourself accountable, and write even when you don’t feel like it.


How to write a book - Ben Schmitt bio imageBen Schmitt spends his time getting caffeinated, writing about writing, and reading. He can be found posting weekly writing tips on www.theauthorsnook.com

Question of the day: How do you get back on track when you don’t feel like writing?

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