How To Stay Motivated When Writing Your Novel02 May

One of the most delightful stages of novel-writing is brainstorming. Figuring out what it is you have to say- the mark you want to leave with your words. Who will your protagonist be? What are their afflictions?

Another fun stage is the completion of a novel. Realizing it is as perfect as it will ever be, and setting your creation free. Sending it off to publishers or reviewers.

It is the slog in the middle that can present the most challenges. Staying with your character, writing consistently, writing when it’s boring, or when the inspiration won’t come, this is the hardest part. And, of course, the most important.

Here are 7 ways to stay motivated when the road gets tough.

  • Just write. It’s sounds like non-advice, but this the best way to get anything done. It doesn’t matter if the right words aren’t coming today. You can (and should) rewrite everything later. Think of the first draft as pouring sand into a pile. It is in your rewrites that you will create the castle.
  • Write one page. If you really feel uninspired, do one page- and know you can stop once you’ve reached the bottom. One page is often enough to get the creative juices flowing… And if it doesn’t you’ve at least got one more page done.
  • Write a short descriptor of your novel. Keep this as short and meaningful as possible. “A girl finds out she can pause time, and has to learn how to use this power without causing global chaos, losing friendships, or flunking 8th grade.”  One or two sentences explaining the crux of the story. Return to this when you’re stuck. This will get you back on track, and remind you what it is you’re writing.
  • Allow for surprises. While you should know the outline of the story, where it begins, where it ends, and all the plot twists, don’t become too rigid in your writing. Allow yourself to make up fun secondary characters, or sub-plots as you go. In your rewriting you can decipher whether these are inspired additions, or whimsical distractions. Don’t worry about this distinction in draft one.
  • Have a schedule. Create the best schedule for you. If your ideas come to you in the dead of the night, write then. Same for the morning or afternoon. Create a time-slot and a word count. 1000 words per session? 3000? 6000? Whatever works for you. And then stick to it.
  • Focus on what you’ve done. Not what you have left. Ever looked at your bedside alarm to calculate how many hours of sleep you can get? How easy is it to fall asleep after that? With a tight schedule that finish line will be getting closer everyday. Even so, try not to look at it.The closer you get to the end the farther it may appear. It’s better to think “I’ve written a chapter of my novel!” than “I have 24 chapters left to write!”
  • Accept that you are a genius. The piece you are working on is genius, it is your unique perspective, and only you could write it. These are your mantras as you write. “Write drunk, edit sober” goes the saying. Inspiration will rapidly fade if you’re constantly telling yourself “this is terrible”. Reign in your ego in the editing phase. But as you’re getting through the slog? Let yourself be Kanye.


Happy writing! What tips would you add?