Five Ways to Hang onto Motivation

Have you ever felt super-motivated to write, learn a new recipe, clean out your closet, etc. at the most inconvenient time, only to completely lose all motivation when you finally have a free moment?

Yeah, me too. So, how do you reclaim that burst of inspiration when you have free time? And better yet, how do you hang onto motivation and avoid losing it altogether?

Well, there’s no magic formula (obviously), but here are a few tricks you can try.

Record how you feel in the moment

You may not have time to write 1,000 words or paint a masterpiece when motivation strikes…but you may have time to capture that spirit. Scribble down how jazzed you are about your idea, gush about it in a voice-recording app, or share a quick post on social media. Then, when you’re feeling lazy later, refer back to it and get yourself psyched up again. (You can also do this after being productive to remind yourself how satisfying it was!)

Write down your goals

In one of your rare free moments, write out what it is you’re working towards, whether it be a finished book, full-time creative work, or a clutter-free house. Post your goals where you work, either at your desk, on the fridge, or on your phone’s home screen. Whenever you feel like procrastinating, read them aloud to yourself. Focusing on the long term can make the short term feel less grueling.

Schedule a session and show up

I have a nightly writing/author work session after dinner. Sometimes, I have zero motivation to be productive. But I’ve found that, if I sit down with a glass of water, log onto the computer, and open a Scrivener document or WordPress post…eventually, I will work. Just by showing up, my brain recognizes that it is time to write and the creativity comes.

Find role models

Chances are other people have achieved your goals, so look to them for motivation. Bookmark their website for reference, post their quotations on your wall, or read or listen to an interview with them before you sit down to work. Not only will this make you feel less alone, but it just might engender a healthy sense of competition and get your butt in gear.

Reward yourself

When you do your writing or meet your other daily goals, give yourself a treat — a chocolate, a cheap ebook, or even just a gold star on your calendar. If you’re like me and tend to cheat (as in justifying not working with lawyer-like skill, then rewarding yourself anyway), find a friend or family member to be the keeper of the rewards. (And make sure it is someone who won’t fall for your puppy dog eyes!)

These five items are tactics to increase your motivation, and they might not all work for you. However, the underlying strategies likely will, once you figure out your personal ways to execute them. Those strategies are: knowledge of and commitment to your goals, a sense of purpose, self-discipline, and being kind to yourself. If you can do those things in one way or another, you’ll learn to keep your motivation close by so it is ready to smash some goals when you are.


When do you feel most motivated? How do you regain motivation on sluggish days? Share your tips in the comments!

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Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

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Posted in Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips
14 comments on “Five Ways to Hang onto Motivation
  1. Kara Jorgensen says:

    I’ve made a habit of working nearly the same time every night, and it works. All of a sudden, my brain kicks on and I’m writing. I also have a word count tracking spreadsheet where I put my monthly goals. It tells me where I should be every day, and that helps keep me motivated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen Jones says:

    I remind myself that I write because I love to do it, and that I’m lucky to have the opportunity. That usually helps when I’ve had a rejection. When writing my own stuff I usually don’t have to motivate myself, as I get pretty excited about the storylines and character. However, when it comes to editing or writing for other people about something I’m maybe not that excited about, a deadline is a great motivator 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post!! It is difficult to find motivation every single day, but even if I’m having a bad one, I write a few hundred words on my MS, or I do a blog, maybe write out some research or notes for my story. I think every writer has their own tactics for dealing with the slow days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave Small says:

    Great advice on staying motivated.

    Your third suggestion about scheduling seems particularly important. I recall a short line in Annie Dillard’s book The Writing Life: “A schedule defends from chaos and whim.”
    • Chaos: Distractions from the external world.
    • Whim: Distractions from my own impulses or weaknesses.

    Excellent post Kate!

    Like

  5. […] Five Ways to Hang onto Motivation via Kate M Colby. This is somewhat similar to what I’ve written here, but it’s great to get perspective from more than one writer. She’s awesome! […]

    Like

  6. theryanlanz says:

    Hi Kate! Per your earlier permission, I scheduled this article to be featured as a guest post on A Writer’s Path on Sept 22nd. As usual, it has your credit/bio/link to your blog. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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