Writer’s Workshop: How To Create Motivation For Yourself

by Randy Murray on June 1, 2011

I am a writer, I do it for a living, so I frequently talk with other people who want to be writers too. And almost always I find that their conversations come around to motivating themselves. They want to be writers, but it’s difficult to find the time to write. They want to be writers, but they’re not sure what to write about. And most importantly, these people who want to be writers find that when they sit down, they just can’t get motivated.

But it’s not that difficult to get motivated. Here’s what works for me: if I write a contract piece and hand it in on time I get paid. If I write it well, they give me another piece to write and keep paying me. There, I’m motivated.

“But no one will pay me for what I’m writing!”


Or maybe you need to recruit others to establish “payments” for you. For example, let’s say that you want to write short stories. Any motivation you try and create for yourself can be easily cheated. That piece of cake you promised yourself when you finished a story, it got eaten anyway. But if you have a friend or a group of readers and they agree to treat you with a piece of cake when you turn the story over to them — that’s real motivation.  If you join a writers’ group, having something to read for each meeting is a big payoff. Reading to a group, hearing your writing out loud, and getting feedback on the spot: that’s almost better than getting paid.

As a business writer, I typically don’t have a problem motivating myself. The work is interesting and my motivation is clear. But as a creative writer I need to establish motivation, too. That means that I need a group of first readers, people who will provide me with feedback. Before I start on a project, I need to make sure I know who my first readers are. I let them know, set their expectations, and that becomes my motivation. I don’t want to disappoint them or waste their time. If I write well they will want to read more.

In business writing the penalties are clear. If I don’t complete the work or if I do a bad job of it, then it becomes less likely that I can continue being a writer at all. I’ll have to go back and get a job. And that, in itself, it the true motivator for me.

The Writer’s Workshop: How To Create Motivation For Yourself by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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