I know a lot of people have found it hard to get motivated in the last couple of years, with the pandemic and other issues weighing them down.
I was watching this little video by an Aussie guy whose advice I really like, and it made me recall a story told to me by a US author friend some years ago. She and another friend in her writing group, both multi-published with major publishers, had lost their writing mojo and hadn’t written anything for over a year.
Month after month, they’d turn up to their writers’ group meeting and watch everyone else produce some writing to be read and discussed, and each month as they muttered “pass” their shame would increase. And they’d go home determined that next month they’d have some writing to share.
But still, they couldn’t write.
Eventually they decided to make a writing pact. It wasn’t the first time they’d tried this, but they’d failed so often it had to be something they couldn’t possibly fail at. So they came up with this: Write one sentence of their story a day.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? One sentence. But after so long failing at writing—and these were published authors, remember, beating themselves up again and again—any success, no matter how small and apparently insignificant, was important.
Of course they didn’t tell anyone else they were doing this. They knew people would laugh at such a small daily goal, not understanding or empathizing with the shame and agony of being unable to write.
So they began their pact, and every day they wrote one sentence. And after they’d written that one sentence, they were free for the rest of the day.
Free from what? you wonder. The thing is, the longer you put something off, the more you fail to do something you know you need to do, the heavier it weighs on you. For writers, this can mean a whole day worrying and fretting and being ashamed and not-writing. Yes, that’s a verb — not-writing.
But one sentence a day set them free.
Some days they wrote more than one sentence — at first a couple of sentences, then a paragraph, and even occasionally a page or more. But for more than a year they kept to their pact — a new sentence every day. And of course, soon they were back, writing, bringing pieces to their writing group, and finishing books and being published again.
The video I referred to above has several nuggets of gold advice in it. You need to listen to the whole 10 minutes—it’s all good — but in particular the bit about lowering the barrier to entry, as well as his observations about motivation are gold. If you can’t see the video below, click here.