• For Writers,  Motivation

    What Are Your Writing For?

    It’s always good for writers to have goals, be they weekly word goals, to write a short story every month, or get a book finished every year — But I was wondering, lovely writers out there: What is your end goal? What is it that you’re working toward?

    What are you writing for?

    At what point will you consider yourself successful, or your writerly wishes fulfilled? When you hold your published book for the first time? When you see your work on the shelves of a bookstore? Why do you want your story to be published? To see your name in print? To make money? To tell a story you desperately want to tell? What makes you excited to finish your writing?

    For me, I really want to know that I’ve entertained someone, that I’ve given them a few minutes or hours of escape. Reading has helped me out of countless depressive episodes; when you’re feeling listless and lost in the world, it can be so amazing to pick up a book, get engaged in the story, and remember how to feel feelings again. So, if someone reads what I’ve written and tells me it got them through a bad night, through a plane ride, that it cheered them up after an exam or long day, that something I wrote made them smile or laugh, I would be walking on cloud nine.

    Consider your end goal often. Do something to remind yourself why you’re writing. Write your goal down on the first page of your writing notebook, or scribble it on a Post-It note that you mount above your desk. On days when the work seems endless and the story too difficult to wrangle, remind yourself that you’re doing this for a reason. You want to share your characters with the world. You want to see your name on a printed book. You want to sit on a panel of authors at a convention and share your knowledge as an equal, an authority. Or, you want to get someone through a bad night.

    Hold onto why you’re doing this. Whatever your motivation, whatever gets that story out of your head and onto the printed page, it’s worth it. And it’s worth reminding yourself of, from time to time.

  • For Writers,  Motivation

    Story Lost Its Steam? How to Stay Motivated as a Writer

    You know the feeling. You were super excited about your book, all the words were flying out of you, the characters were yammering on inside your head so clearly you really could hear them, everything was going great

    And now … you don’t know what to do.


    First drafts almost always feel like this, at some point. That initial burst of inspiration has dwindled away and we start to feel pretty daunted; maybe our word count isn’t where we want it to be, or our story isn’t as good or exciting or as competently written as we’d hoped. Our Inner Editor is whispering nasty things in our ears. The urge to quit might be growing too strong to ignore.

    If you’re feeling exhausted and getting stuck in the endless ream of drivel you believe your draft to be, here are some things I think will help keep your spirits up, keep your fingers moving, and keep that word count growing.

  • Motivation

    The Plight of the Creative In Times of Struggle

    For many of us, this past November was a month of emotional strain. I’ll admit, all fantasies of blowing my NaNoWriMo goals out of the water fell apart after the sucker punch that was November 8th. For days, I could hardly concentrate on eating or sleeping, let alone writing. I struggled to find any motivation to work on my WIP.

    Now, for some people, the darkest hours, the moments of struggle and adversity, are the times they find most creatively stimulating. “Suffering is justified as soon as it becomes the raw material of beauty,” said Sartre. It is through struggle and pain, they say, that they find the inspiration and motivation to pursue their art.

    That’s great for them. Really.

    Writing can be a lifeline, a rope to cling to and claw at while everything else is in free-fall, and if you can find solace and stimulation within the coarse fabric of your rough patches, all the better for you.

    But, if you’re the kind of writer who can’t write when you’re upset, who needs to fundamentally feel safe and happy and comfortable and encouraged to pick up the pen; if you write from a place of confidence and joy, please, please, please don’t think less of yourself for feeling creatively dried up right now.


    Try not to internalize too much shame or guilt or hatred at yourself. Humans have limits, even you.

    You are allowed to have dry spells. You are allowed to be uninspired, to be blocked. Peaks and troughs, people, it’s okay.

    One of the worst things you can do during writer’s block is strain and strain and strain. Don’t beat up or berate yourself. Don’t get angry that you, for whatever reason, can’t write right now. Be kind to yourself.

    Your creative urge will come back to you, often at an unexpected time or in a surprising way. If you’re going through hell, by all means, keep going, but let yourself take the time that you need to fight through it.

    You’re a writer regardless of whether you put down a word every day. So take time off if you need it. Let your story be a source of comfort, not one more thing to feel stressed about.


  • Motivation

    In Praise Of Putting Down Words

    It’s only by sitting in the chair

    that we can hope to rise.

    It’s only by tackling the knot

    that we stand any chance of untangling it.

    By putting words to the page

    so many words,

    any and all kinds of words,

    mischosen words,

    earnest words,

    embarrassing words,

    too many words.

    It’s only by doing this work that we might hope to find

    the perfect words.

    The keys that turn the locks.

    The switches that bring to life the lights.

    The whispers of truth

    the strength to the muscles

    the shape to the spine

    the beat to the heart

    of the narrative.

    The right words are there.

    Not in some nebulous cloud floating above your head,

    not lurking in your computer,

    not sleeping in the pages of that thesaurus you never open.

    The words are in you already.

    Perfect words in search of a perfect place.

    But the only way to find them

    is by doing the work.

    By opening the page.

    By uncapping the pen.

    By sitting down in that chair.

    To write.