7 tactics for motivating your personal writing

Most communicators started writing for personal reasons, and it can be difficult to find the time and inspiration to write for yourself after a day of banging out copy for clients.

If you spend your working life crafting messages for your company, clients, leaders, co-workers, or employees, you have no doubt suffered from writing fatigue.

Writing fatigue in our day jobs means that we may have little motivation to write for ourselves. The last thing you want to do at the end of an endless day is work on your memoirs.

However, there are ways to motivate yourself. Below are a few recommendations, based on research and advice from other writers.

1. Challenge a fellow writer.

Do you have a friend or colleague who can’t find time to write, either? Challenge each other with word count goals or first draft deadlines. Figure out what will motivate both of you. For some, that could be some friendly competition; for others, it might be having someone to call when they’re stuck.

2. Research and incorporate the habits of your favorite writers.

Find out how your favorite authors motivate themselves. What eccentricities do they have? For example, Philip Pullman has written three pages per day—in longhand and with a specific type of pen and paper—since he started writing. Could you adopt these habits too? (Read more about the habits of famous writers.)

3. Set a word count.

Many famous authors write to a word count. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 3,000 words per day, while Jack London wrote 1,000 words. Anthony Trollope wrote 250 words every 15 minutes. If drafting 1,000 words seems too ambitious, start with fewer words and work your way up. What can you realistically do?

4. Set a time limit.

If setting a word count seems unmanageable, trying blocking off a specific amount of time for writing—and writing only. If you need to, start with a small amount of time and increase it as the habit develops.

5. Put it on your calendar.

If you put something on your calendar, you’re more likely to do it. Block writing time as “busy” so no one—including you—schedules anything during that time. Set reminders so you’ll be prompted (or nagged) by your calendar app.

6. Join a writing group.

Joining a local writer’s group and attending meetings is another way to keep yourself accountable. If members of the group are expecting to see your outline or read the first chapter at the next meeting, you’ll be motivated to deliver.

7. Use writing prompts.

Writing prompts can help you to think creatively and inspire you to write. There are writing prompt books, journals, calendars, flashcards, etc.

My favorite prompt is the game Storymatic. Players draw two character cards, such as “a bartender” and “the sulky ex-boyfriend,” along with two object cards, such as “a blind cat” and “an over-priced sports car.” The goal is to combine all four elements into one story. Like all writing prompts, the idea is to give you a place to start.

What about you Ragan/PR Daily readers? How do you find the time and motivation for personal writing?

Laura Hale Brockway is a writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her posts on writing, editing, and corporate life on PR Daily and at impertinentremarks.com.

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