23 February 2012

What Do You Do When You Have No Motivation?

Photo Copyright by David Castillo Dominici
 All writers face this. Some call it writer's block. Some call it having the lack of discipline. Some call it immaturity. Maybe others...the cruel ones...call it a writer who is only a dreamer, but never really writes. Someone who isn't meant to be a writer. The person who should give up. To stop fooling themselves. It's the cynical one, quick to criticize others, instead of understand.

But to me, I think it's something all of us must deal with. I have been dealing with it lately.

I started out this year like a bullet out of a gun. I had the motiviation to finish my novel, and got through more chapters than I have in years. I'm now on Chapter 14 and I have three chapters to go. I'm almost done with my book. Right now, I am five lines into the chapter and it's been  like that all week.
I try to talk myself into it. I really do. But it's tough. I got laid off from my job a few weeks ago and really, I have all sorts of time to write now. But the motiviation just isn't there.

So what do you do? What do you do when you don't have motiviation? Do we write anyways? Fight it?

I guess so. I know I'm supposed to. But it's tough.

This time I didn't ask the writing community what to do...I didn't ask the experts. Instead, I'm just putting it out there.

Our jobs as writers is to write. No matter how many blog posts we write, no matter how often we tweet, and no matter how much self promotion we do, at the end of the day, we define ourselves as a writer by writing.

With or without motiviation, we must write. Even if we are spent. Even if we are drained. Even if the emotional energy is just. Not. There.  I wanted to write this blog post for myself. To tell myelf this -

That no matter how much you get down, you are a writer. You are a writer. You don't need to be published to call yourself that. That even when the stress gets to you, the critics get to you, the stories just won't flow anymore - you are a writer. You have been that your whole life. Never forget that. You have wanted to be a writer way before you knew what it meant to be published. You just wanted to tell stories.

Today, tell a story. Write a story. Write for the purpose of getting that character out of your head, because he or she or it needs a voice. Write a story because there is a place, a location that haunts you, disturbs you, makes you think, inspires you, because it needs a voice too. Write because it feels good. Write because you want you to.  Write for the audience, the reader that you haven't met yet. Write for the little child in you that dreamed about one day finding their name on the list of authors at the public library. Write for foolish, lofty reasons. Write terribly. Write good. Write what you want to write.

But know this - you are not alone. Others feel this way too even if they refuse to admit it. Even if they think they are above the lack of motiviation. Even if no one talks about it.

Be motivated today, because, damn it, you are worth it. The writer in you is worth it.

Remember, I wrote this post for me.

But I hope you find some use for it today too.


  1. When this happens to me, I allow myself to jump ahead and write a different scene. Doing that usually gets me writing again and then I can go back and tackle the part that was giving me trouble.

    Good luck!

  2. This was such a helpful post. Right now I'm under tons of stress at work on top of packing to move and renovating one house for selling. By the time I get to sit down at night I feel so drained that I stare blankly at the screen for most of my writing time. Now I feel like I should go back and re-read your blog before I try again tonight and see if that helps me find my own inner determination!

  3. I find that I need more time to write. I have the motivation to do it. Nicole, we should merge resources! Your time and my motivation.

    If I should find that I'm not motivated to write anything, I get my camera out and hunt for my next picture. Or I do something creative in the kitchen, take photos and post them on Facebook.

    What usually happens after that, my creative self gives me a little pat on the back and reminds me that I've got some more creating to do...with words. :)

    Good luck, Nicole!

  4. you know what I do?? I do something completely un-related. A task i need to accomplish, get a momentum and then i feel energetic and all full of myself for getting so much done and I actually get a TON of blogging work done those evenings!

  5. You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today. I did write one chapter, but I have more in me. I want to keep going, but there's the laundry that needs to be done, dogs need walking, and I need to fit some kind of exercise in at some point. Some days are just a challenge, but I'm with you. We. Are. Writers! It's our core; it's our passion. All we have to do is live it! Cheers to much more motivation tomorrow. :)

  6. This just hit the spot for me. I'm under a lot of stress as well with trying to manage my time to even be able to write and when I finally sit down, its like my head is just swimming with all of the things that need to be done. It's a neverending circle sometimes. But we all get through it right? Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone :)

  7. What a wonderful and inspiring post! You are so right. :) I love how I come upon these wonderful posts exactly when I need to.

    Thank you.

  8. I am not a writer, no, really, I mean that literally. I have been orally telling stories all of my life. With my blog I simply write those stories down.

    Occasionally I run out of stories and have to make something up. Now that I when I TRY to become a writer and I can identify with this post. You did an excellent job.....I hope you listened to yourself because I think you are right.....kt

  9. Thank you for your honesty! I'm dealing with this right now, and I've been stuck on the 9th chapter of my story for...6 Weeks. Yeah. Six Weeks. I hate these periods, but I do think they serve a greater purpose. I'm going to be honest, though: you in the writer's block state is still better than me there. I literally go literarily catatonic and can't even describe what I'm feeling. You can. That's the mark of a true writer. Best of luck to you! I know you'll push through.

  10. I read a fascinating article about this very thing. It really inspired me, it's direct without sensitivities ... I need that to get motivated! You might find it interesting:



  11. Read my Monday post..."Be the Ball", and you'll see how I combat motivation issues. :)

  12. I agree! I force myself to write even when I don't feel like it.

  13. Guess what I'm doing now... ;) I force myself to write every day, even if it's warm-up, even if it's ending up being deleted the next hour, or day... Just to keep the brain muscles flexing.

    Sorry about being laid off the job :( I hope you can find the silver lining having more time to write :)

  14. @Kelly - That is a good idea actually. Trying out a new way to approach a scene or even tackling a different part of the story is a good way to keep fresh.

    @Ashley - Oh I'm so glad this helped you! I hope you can tackle your story later on tonight! I'm struggling with mine a bit, but it's sitting on my lap right now and I'm going after the scene a bit at a time. I've gotten a page done today and that feels really good!

    @mooderino - It can! I find that the music to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter help me a lot (I'm writing a fantasy!) :)

    @Diane - We should!!!!! Wow, if I can have that motiviation with the time that I have do it...I would work wonders!! :) And that is a really good idea to use another creative outlet too! I used to do collages, and whenever I would do that I felt like that was flexing my creative muscle. Like when I would go to writing that I would be that much stronger. I know I need to find another outlet that has less pressure involved in it (like I know I put pressure on writing!)

    @Eschelle - That's a good idea too! Funny thing is I got inspired to write while being in the unemployment department and I think it was becauese I was tackling something that I had needed to get done. Now, I'm much more at ease. :)

    @Vanessa- Thank you Vanessa! I'm so glad to know I'm not alone in this. The idea of responsibility around us can be so draining and exhausting. And that can just temper any creative urges. I hope you rediscover your creative energy as well!!

    @L.J. - Oh definitely...we are definitely not alone. Although too often I feel like not enough people talk about it! :) I have so much trouble just letting go of the world around me and allowing myself to escape into the world I'm trying to create in front of me.

    @Ninja - Thank you so much for reading! :) I'm so glad that you found this inspiring!

    @Kt - I do try to listen to myself! :) Although it can be soooooooooo tough! I don't know, though, I'd definitely say you are a writer. When you get used to making stuff up, it gets easier and easier. Hehehe...

    @Deena Safari - You are making me feel so much better. I'm part of the most interesting, but toughest chapters to write in my book right now. A lot of scenes switching around...and it's tough to write that without it looking like a mess. I try to tell myself that editing will come later, but its not easy. I'm pushing through though and it's getting easier to overcome the idea of writer's block! I know those catatonic stages though...I call that the dark ages. And boy have I been there!

    @Unpublished Life - I READ THAT!! I LOVED IT! :) Isn't that an amazing article! I would recommend that every writer read that. That's the swift kick in the butt we all need.

    @DL Hammons - I just read it after you posted that comment - very very good post! Right now, I am definitely being my writer self. I'm dying to ask someone to create the cover of my book, but I want to wait to be done with it first! I love the cover of your novel by the way!!

    @Rena - And doesn't it just suck when you have to force it?? But it's so necessary!

    @Maria - I'm forcing myself too. I have my next page on my lap right now as I type this. I do hope that I make good use of this time!

  15. Excellent post! Thanks for motivating yourself and us. Yes, it happens to us all! We should keep pushing forward, no matter what. I think if we find something inspirational, just by taking a short break, it could help us to continue writing. A short walk, reading a thoughtful quote, changing writing locations could help. But we should not procrastinate even when we want to. Good luck, Nicole!

  16. I've heard that before. Doing something unrelated helps. If anything, getting a little distance is good if you're beyond the point of "writing howevermany words every day" being helpful.

    This is usually when I either start a completely new project or am juggling a couple at a time and when inspiration comes from one place rather than another, I jump to where the signal's the strongest, that sort of thing


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