A few days ago, I fished an email from John Runk, a fellow writer, out of Spam. Thanks to a mild profanity, John’s subject line had earned disfavor the gatekeepers of my email. The rest of his email was so amusing and kind that I hope John writes me again. Often.
But he did bring up an issue that’s been plaguing me for the last two weeks. As John put it, “I’ve been thinking about my blogging lately. Actually, my lack of blogging. I don’t do it much—I’ve never had to. But this modern world of She who writes with the most followers wins may finally be catching up to me.”
It seems to be catching up with me too: The events of 15 April and the week that followed depressed me to the point that I could write only as promised for clients. And this week? I was happy, energetic, full of ideas and words—but I still couldn’t get started.
With almost every other endeavor, the key is getting off your butt. With writing it’s actually getting on your butt and staying there long enough to put words on the page.
So how do you get motivated to write?
Here are five tips for attaching the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and spending that time creating—as opposed to surfing, Facebooking, Googling, gaming …
1) Establish a routine. Many of life’s activities require a ritual that tells your brain it’s time to get serious. Maybe you floss before you go to bed. Maybe you put your favorite cross trainers on before you exercise. Maybe you look for your favorite fountain pen, even though you’ve been using a computer for your entire writing career. Whatever routine you use will cue your brain that it’s time to get to work. See #2 for my fave ritual.
2) Listen to music. For several years now, “Let’s Get It Started” by the Black Eyed Peas has let me know it’s time to exercise. But for writing, I travel back to the 18th century and tune in to the Allegro from Bach’s Brandenburg Concert No. 3. The piece tells my fingers it’s time to dance across the keyboard—if they move fast enough to keep up with the music, the words splash onto the screen. I think of Bach, hands flashing across the organ keys, feet flying on the pedals, knowing only he could write music difficult enough to challenge his extraordinary skills. We may be divided by 300+ years, but the man has never let me down.
3) Set a timer. Promise yourself you’ll write for 15 minutes. Or 10. Or 5. Make the length of time so small it’s painless to you. Then start, knowing you’ll be done soon. If you’re still unmotivated when your time is up, set yourself free and do as you will. But I can just about guarantee that after 5 minutes pass, you’ll be in the middle of a (seemingly) brilliant thought and keep on writing. The biggest hurdle is always hitting those first few keys.
4) Find inspiration. Maybe you still haven’t touched a key. Or maybe you’ve started and already stopped. Maybe what you need is a little friendly competition. If you need to write a blog post, read someone else’s efforts—especially a post that’s reaped a lot of kudos and comments. I suggest you not read a master like Seth Godin unless you can emulate him. Just find someone in your LinkedIn group who has something interesting to say. Suddenly you may get that “if they can do it, so can I” feeling. And that may be just enough to spur you to put your own ideas out there.
5) Call for help. Solo writers are not alone, especially not in this day and age. The places to connect with other lonely pamphleteers are myriad—LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and any other social network of your choosing. And that means there’s someone out there who will feel your pain when you explain your dilemma. Like John Runk—which is why I asked him if we might consider teaming up and holding each other accountable for blog posts, just like exercise buddies. I’ll let you know how it goes.
What about you? How do you get on your butt and start writing?
Diana Kightlinger is a professional writer who lives at the base of Black Mountain near Missoula, Montana. You can find Diana on Google+ and Eclipse Communications on Facebook. For lots more helpful info, sign up for the EclipseWriter Blog and get her FREE REPORT on “50 Things You Must Check Before You Send Your Email Offer.”