Writing a book can be extremely challenging, and every author goes through a lot of unspoken hurdles in producing a novel. A novel can take a few months to write, or sometimes, several years. Therefore, if you are a writer, you need to be inspired to put continuous efforts into the story consistently.
How do you stay motivated without getting depressed? How do you make sure you don’t suffer writer’s block or end up like Jack Torrance in The Shining? Here are some methods that will keep your ink flowing from the moment you start writing a book until it is published.
6 Ways to Stay Motivated as an Author
1. Read Widely
Every good writer is also a voracious reader. No matter how good you are in writing, you can always improve by reading more. Reading books, articles, plays, or any well-written material can introduce you to new styles of writing, stir your imagination, or, at the very least, improve your vocabulary.
When you find yourself stuck while writing, pick up a good book and start reading. It does not mean that you should copy ideas of styles, but reading can have a lot of indirect effects. You can gain inspiration from other authors, or some brainwave could strike you suddenly.
If you prefer to read non-fiction, there are several good books on writing itself, like On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and The Writing Book: A Practical Guide for Fiction Writers by Kate Grenville.
2. Join a Writing Community
An author is, in many ways, a lonely profession. Writers spend a lot of time inside their heads searching for ideas rather than in groups, discussing. This solitude can lead to frustration, to the point where you give up writing for want of company.
Being part of a writing community gives you the best of both worlds. You can be in the company of fellow writers, and at the same time, share anecdotes, inspirational messages, and thoughts. A lot of writing clubs encourage first-timers to share their story ideas and improve with the feedback and suggestions given.
You can meet a friend with similar interests with whom you can collaborate in your current work or a future book. Writing together can give you comfort because you know you have someone who shares the work.
3. Write in Regular Sessions…
Sometimes, your problem as a writer is not lack of inspiration but laziness. You feel lethargic to continue a half-finished chapter, and you feel like putting it off for tomorrow. It is best to stick to a planned schedule for writing to overcome this procrastination.
Decide you will work on your book for specific time slots every day – could be in the morning if you are an early bird or late at night if you are a night owl – and take adequate breaks in between. You can also take a weekend off to do sometime else like reading or some other recreational activity. But, the time you allotted for writing should be devoted to only that.
Writing clubs that schedule regular meetups and discussion sessions also help you follow a timetable. Nowadays, writing apps help writers to set up schedules. These apps also keep you free of distractions by restricting you stay only in the current window/tab on your computer.
4. …but Do Not Force Yourself
Although this seems contradictory to the previous point, there is a difference. Keeping a strict writing schedule overcomes laziness, but if you are genuinely stuck and have no idea how to proceed, do not force yourself to write something just for its sake. It is a bigger mistake to compromise on quality than to be lazy.
You need not entirely shut yourself from writing or from the outside world. If you want to put away your book for a few days, take up some hobby that will improve your skills when you return: read books, try writing short essays, or try some word puzzles like crossword or scrabble. Soon enough, you will regain the enthusiasm to continue writing.
5. Play to Your Strengths
When you have your initial novel outline template ready, you should also have a general idea of the genre, characters, key events, and climax. While you build upon this outline, use the techniques in which you excel. If you have an eye for detail, you can paint vivid descriptions of all the scenes for your readers; if your strength is in dialogues, preferably use a first-person narrative and convey as much information as possible through conversations.
You can read other novelists’ work for inspiration but never negatively compare yourself to someone else. Just because someone else completed their work in three months and you took nine does not mean your book is of a lower standard. The only thing you should measure is your progress, inspiration level, and satisfaction with your work.
6. The Grammar Nazis Can Wait
Most writers tend to be perfectionists in their work: no typos, no grammar errors, no squinting modifiers, and whatnot. However, when you are writing a book, the perfectionist inside you should wait.
When you write, your creativity and ideas take the lead: scribble down your thoughts and words without giving much importance to the correctness or coherency. Remember that the writing and editing aspects of your brain work very differently. That is why a “draft” is named, so: it can be modified in a hundred ways before you finalize it.
Once you have written whatever you wanted to, you can first make the content coherent by arranging the thoughts in sequence and giving it some structure. In the end, you can look into spelling and grammar errors (or your editor can do it for you). You can be as critical and analytical as you want during the editing stage, but not while writing.
Keep Calm and Finish the Book
With these six techniques, you should find the much-needed inspiration to finish your book without losing interest or hope. You will invariably face obstacles, but the reward and feeling of happiness you get when that bestseller does come out are unmatched.