I’ve been trying to write more frequently for several weeks now and have made an effort to post here three times per week. Coming from the habit of dwelling on a topic for days before picking up my metaphorical pen, it’s certainly a change of pace. However, some strange things happen when you dedicate yourself more fully to something: you gain more confidence as you go. Who knew? After a while, that confidence helps you develop a bit more momentum, but getting to that point (and staying there) can take some serious self motivation. Here are a few things I like to keep in mind. They are probably pretty obvious, but we can all use a reminder once in a while.
1. Plan ahead: think in smaller steps.
Most days, the thought of writing something that I’m actually going to share with the world, something that people might someday read, is pretty daunting. This is where planning is key, and I actually like to use a real-life pen and paper for this part. Writing your ideas in a place that is just for you is a lot less intimidating and helpful in getting them straight. Spending a bit of time brainstorming on paper is one of the best ways to come up with ideas and create your own inspiration. Setting smaller goals can help lead to the momentum that keeps you going. It’s kind of like telling yourself that you are only going to work out for ten minutes and then you are allowed to stop. You probably will not stop after ten minutes, but you feel accomplished knowing that you did what you set out to do. Anything extra is just a bonus.
2. Write without judgement.
It’s so easy to psych yourself out by thinking about how other people will interpret the words you are writing. I’m doing it now! This is when I need to remind myself to step back, just write what’s on my mind, and go back to it later. No one says you have to hit publish on every word you write, and you can edit your own work as much as you like. Limiting yourself in this way can make your writing boring and meaningless. End the criticism and write for yourself, at least the first time around. You can always tweak things later on.
3. Browse your own blog and preview your posts.
This is specific to bloggers, of course. I find myself browsing my own site all the time… and not due to vanity. Just paying attention to my archive, to what topics I’ve written about in the past, helps me gain some perspective on what topics I’ve missed or neglected. This doesn’t always prompt me to write something specific (though it has today). Previewing posts is another easy thing to keep me going when I have a lull in motivation. Visualizing the finished product is a common motivational tip, and blogging platforms make that too easy. Sometimes, all you need is to see how the words and photos will be represented out there, in the internet world.
4. Write every day. Read every day.
It’s easy to make this seems harder than it really is. Everyone writes daily: lists, messages, rambling blog posts. The real chore is to take the time to organize your thoughts into something you feel fits the real “I’m writing” statement. But, you don’t have to be so hard on yourself. What is a writer, but someone who writes? Making the process habitual can take time and might require you to start small and work your way up. Once you get there, you have to maintain it by writing regularly–this means not going more than a couple of days at a time without writing. The self motivation can be hard to find, but once you do get to that point, the confidence and habitual routine make it so much easier to keep up.
Ask any blogger how they find inspiration and it’s probably from reading the work of other bloggers. Whether you are looking for it or not, browsing through other blogs will inspire you to adapt ideas and make them your own. And when you’re inspired, the motivation takes care of itself, right?
5. Write what you want to write.
I’m not an expert on this topic… not by a long shot–but, I don’t claim to be. I’m merely sharing my own experiences because I just feel like it and maybe someone out there can relate. This ties into writing without judgement. Don’t judge your own writing, and don’t let your perception of how others may judge you hold you back from your ideas (as long as they are not harmful, of course). People choose to write because it is a medium for them to express their ideas, because they get some form of enjoyment from the process or the finished product (hopefully both!). If you are feeling like you aren’t good enough to cover a certain topic, or that judgement is holding you back, just stop. What’s the point in continuing the process if you can’t get enjoyment from it? Write for yourself first, and your best work will come naturally. It might take some time, but if it feels worthwhile, then it certainly is.
Not exactly fitting with the travel theme, but I felt the urge to write out some of my thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to read them! Always, I appreciate comments, feedback, and suggestions. Do you have any motivational tips for newly dedicated writers?