I’m sure that we have all experienced it. That cold, nagging doubt that tells us we aren’t good enough, or that we will never finish our book. Maybe it is a similar feeling that writing is too hard for you, and you wasted your time attempting to write fantasy. That you aren’t up to the task of penning a fantasy book, or short story, or whatever else it is you are writing. Whether you are a beginning writer or a master, this is a monster that we all have to conquer.
And it is one that most writers truly don’t discover the identity of. But I know what it is – that of having a lack of motivation.
But this is something that we can all overcome.
When you begin to write, it is difficult at first. You don’t think you’re good enough, that you will never finish it, or that you don’t have the time. That last major reason was certainly the case for me – I put my novel to the side for a year and a half, thinking myself not up to snuff for such a monumental task! But then I refocused my efforts on it once again last fall, and thanks to the proper motivation, I am now a published author on Amazon.
And anyone else can, as long as they have the right mindset and want to succeed. Whether you are a novice with a simple story in a notebook or a bestselling author with dozens of books sold all across the globe, you still need motivation to keep writing enjoyable and keep yourself going. It’s the same way you need motivation to wake up in the morning, or go to work, or even bang out that last page.
In this post, I’ll outline the best ways to help find what motivates you, largely taken from my own personal experience. Don’t feel obligated to follow what I suggest, but I hope you will take away some new good habits from here that will help you write – and maybe even publish – just a little bit faster.
Primary Reasons and Solutions for Failure
Below, I will be detailing the three Major Reasons for failure that stem from lack of motivation, and then subsequently how to solve them.
Reason 1 – ‘It’s Too Hard, I’m Too Busy’
People naturally don’t want to do hard things – it’s been scientifically proven. We are lazy beings. The famous American female abolitionist and writer Harriet Stowe realized this, saying: ‘Humankind above all is lazy’, and so have many others.
This is only further exemplified in novel writing. Writing a book is difficult, to massively understate it. Ninety-nine percent of people who start out writing one don’t finish it, and in the face of those odds then it can seem like you fall into that 99%. But you don’t have to, not with the proper motivation.
To sum it up, the largest reason for failure is because people think it is too hard to write a novel. They believe they will never finish it, and so give up before they have even truly started. The ‘it’s too hard’ mindset is Major Problem #1.
We can do anything. Anyone can publish a book, and many have. J.K. Rowling was on welfare, Octavia Butler was a dishwasher, and Stephen King was a janitor. But look at what they accomplished.
I am not trying to say that you will achieve the same success as them, but that you can do what they did. Write.
There are countless other examples of ordinary people who were probably even more disadvantaged than you are writing a novel.
If they can do it, so can you.
Another argument against the problem would be that surely you can spare even five minutes a day just writing half a page. Those pages add up, and will form something more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
The motivation would be to just look at the goal of finishing, keep the end of the tunnel in sight, and not give up. Putting aside ten minutes isn’t too hard, and habits form after only 21 days. Tell yourself you will only be spending ‘x’ minutes on writing. Commit to a daily goal, and stick with it. The goal doesn’t have to be much, it can only be a page, or a paragraph. But as long as you get in the initial habit of writing every day, the rest, as they say, is history.
Another passive way to encourage yourself to continue writing even if you think it is too hard is to hang around successful people – especially authors – or read about people’s success stories. About people like Dav Pilkey, who suffered from dyslexia. Pilkey authored the bestselling Captain Underpants series, and his real disadvantage didn’t stop him. Don’t let your made-up delusions stop you.
Reason 2 – ‘What Is The Point?’
There is a large, annoying voice in most novice’s heads that keeps yammering about what is the point of writing the novel? And why should I do that? This once again links to the lack of motivation. Motivation is technically the reasons for acting or behaving a certain way. And if we don’t have a reason for doing something, then we won’t do it. If we have a reason for waking up at 3 AM, we won’t. Same goes for a novel.
A lot of people that I have met believe the only reason to write a book is to gain fame or money. How one-dimensional. You should write a book for so many reasons, and there is definitely a point. This is Major Problem #2.
Honestly, if you are in it for the money or the fame, then you shouldn’t be in it. The vast majority of writers don’t earn a living from it, and you are writing for yourself. You are writing to show yourself you can write a novel, not to brag about it to the world.
Focus on the fact that you are writing for your own personal pleasure, and even if it would be nice to earn some money from this, it isn’t your primary goal.
Reason 3 – ‘My Book Will Fail / I Will Be Laughed At’
Many people believe that they aren’t cut out to be this whole ‘author person’, and that they will fail dramatically. They think that although they slaved away over their computers and read too many manuals about how to write and market (me!), they will fail to achieve anything but a sale to their mother. Or that their friends will find out and even laugh at them because of how bad their work is.
Personally, I thought this. I had an inkling that I would be laughed at and looked at differently by others because of what I did, and was deathly afraid of people reading my work – even if that was what I secretly wanted. But when I saw sales on The Fictional War from family, friends, and even complete strangers and from across a variety of countries such as the U.K., Germany, and the United States, then the very opposite happened. People complimented me, and I felt proud.
What I did not feel like was that I had failed, or that I was laughed at. And so should you.
You know your friends and your family, and they won’t look at you any worse for reading your work – they will actually probably look at you better. If you get a scathing review on Amazon (hopefully not), then that may take away your motivation from writing entirely.
But remember that you were writing this for yourself, remember the solution to Reason 2 – ‘What is the point?’ This book probably wasn’t written for the express purpose of you being able to read 5-star reviews for your book, even if that would be nice. And once someone gives you feedback about what they disliked, then you can take that into account and edit your book, focusing on the fact that then you will have an improved fantasy novel.
Being laughed at for accomplishing something (writing a novel) is infinitely better than not being laughed at for accomplishing nothing.
Failure is subjective.
Bonus, Helpful Solutions
Not all lack of motivation comes from the above reasons. If you just want to write more, or convince yourself to write in the first place, here are my top 7 solutions:
Go by baby steps. Getting to the next page, finishing this chapter, finishing the section, finishing the novel.
Don’t get distracted, if at all possible. Find a quiet writing space and use it.
Take a break. A lot of lack of motivation comes from working too hard, so take pauses in between writing and you will feel a lot less tired and more motivated.
Read. Nothing will motivate you more than a good book written by someone similar to you, and it will make you want to write as they do.
Tell people you will be writing a novel, and writing every day. This will create something akin to ‘peer pressure’.
Reward yourself. Nothing motivates you more than rewarding yourself for writing – like putting a carrot in front of a donkey.
Whatever you like, turn it into a reward. It can be anything from buying some ice cream to going to the movies – anything to keep writing.
Find a clean, smooth interface that you want to come back to. I went for 750words.com, which I could write a whole new post about. You can check it out, but anything similar would do. The best websites are the ones that are:
- Aesthetically pleasing
- They remind you
- Track your progress
I hope that these potential solutions will motivate you to write even more, and get what is in your head onto paper and then out there!