I find it really hard to keep motivated while writing. I often am really excited about a story I start writing, but after a couple paragraphs I lose motivation and never continue the story. Any advice? -Anonymous
I completely understand this! I am currently in the process of trying to stick to the longest story I’ve ever attempted. In the past, I’ve stuck to poetry and short stories for this very reason, but I’m trying to push myself with this project during quarantine! Here are a few tips that have either worked for me, or that have worked for people I know.
Outline vs. No Outline
Every writer has different preferences when it comes outlining. Some find it really helpful to have a really detailed outline to know exactly where they’re going; others like to take an idea and run with it, with no plan whatsoever. I think that figuring out which process you prefer is a big part of staying committed to a story. If you feel to frustratingly tied to a detailed outline and grow sick of it, you might be tempted to give up. Similarly, if you don’t have any plan and find yourself overwhelmed by the accumulating subplots/details, you might also want to give up. So, I suggest experimenting with both, and seeing what keeps you more engaged! I’ve found myself somewhere in the middle. Having a plan and keeping track of subplots as I go allows me to feel in control and excited to get to the next part that I have planned out, while allowing myself the freedom to change things as I go keeps the magic of writing.
Write in Order or Jump Around
I also think that the order in which you write a story makes a big difference when it comes to staying committed. Perhaps you’ve gotten a few pages in, but you’re already finding yourself bored and wanting to start something new. Maybe that new thing doesn’t have to be a completely different story, though. What if you try jumping to the middle of your story, instead? If there’s a scene that you’re really excited to write, there’s nothing wrong with skipping over parts to write that scene! If you find the scene inconsistent with the rest of the story afterwards, then you can easily edit it later. Even if said scene doesn’t end up staying in the story, it can keep you engaged and excited about the story as a whole! I’ve found that, for me, jumping around helps me develop the characters sooner rather than later, which is also a plus.
Realistic Word Count Goals
It’s pretty frustrating to expect yourself to be further along in a story than you currently are. I know I’ve struggled with that before, especially when I’ve set daily word count goals that I just can’t meet every day. However, I do think word count goals can be helpful, as long as they’re used in a way that works for you! Personally, I find it helpful to set a goal that you know you can reach every day or week. If you set a goal of a few hundred words every day, you’ll feel successful when you reach the goal, and if that’s all you want to write that day, then you’ll still feel like you’re making a good amount of progress on the story, and hopefully you’ll feel motivated for the next day! Although, I find that after I’ve reached my meager word count goal, I just want to keep writing. I find that the higher the word count goal, the less likely I am to write at all, and the lower the word count goal, the more likely I am to actually sit down and write a lot!
Take a Reading Break
Sometimes it’s really helpful to remind yourself why you want to write a long story! Reading fiction is a huge part of writing fiction, and taking a break to immerse yourself in a book can be really productive when you’re trying to write your own story. Pick up a book you’ve been wanting to read, or reread one of your favorites, and try to remember why you love stories so much. It’s okay to take a break for a day, a few days, or a week. Sometimes it’s all but necessary in order to refill your creative battery, and return to your story with fresh eyes. I also find that this works with visual art, too; when you step away from your drawing for a few days, consume outside art, and come back, your “artistic eyes” will be a lot clearer, and you’ll be able to see what you need to change, and what you want to add.
I hope these tips were helpful! If it helps, I’m in that struggle with you, but continuing a story you care about is always worth it. If anyone else has any tips, feel more than welcome to drop them here! And as always, anyone and everyone is welcome to PM me to talk about this further. Thanks for reading!