At some point, most of us have experienced a lack of motivation to write.
It starts out with the shiny new excitement to work on a story, poetry chapbook or novel, lots of ideas flowing, lots of purpose behind it, a solid writing schedule, friends cheering you on.
And then suddenly over time, all of that fades away.
Losing motivation to write is a common problem among writers and there are many causes for it – we become busy at work, we move to a new place, we take on a different project, we have family responsibilities, life happens.
Those are all surface level reasons for losing motivation to write. Deep down though, there may be something else going on.
Here are my top 3 tips for overcoming your lack of motivation to write.
Find Your Why
The big question to ask with losing motivation to write is – why? Why have you lost motivation? Not, how did it happen? But why did it happen?
Sometimes to answer this question you need to ask yourself, why was I writing it in the first place?
The reasons behind why we’re writing a particular thing can change over time, or we may become unaligned with those reasons. Perhaps our reason for writing something becomes less relevant for us, less exciting and more daunting, or it becomes overwhelming or emotionally exhausting.
Try to identify why you wanted to write it at all in the first place, and then see if that has changed for you. If it has, then try to identify why you’ve become disconnected from that original driving force. How has it changed for you? How has it stayed the same?
I suggest journaling out your responses to this, for your eyes only, and being very honest with yourself when doing so.
It’s okay to become unaligned with our reason behind why we wanted to write something. We are always evolving, so it makes sense our art evolves too. The trick is to not force ourselves to complete a piece of writing that we really don’t care to write anymore. This is a huge demotivator. It’s okay to shelve a project and move on to something that is more in tune with where you’re at now.
Return To A Place of Play
Another tip for overcoming a lack of writing motivation is to get back to a place of creative play within your work. Writing can take on a serious nature when we think of meeting deadlines, word count goals, publication goals, or are working with content that is of a serious nature.
But we mustn’t forget – writing is a creative act, and creativity is fun! If your work has become too serious or too bogged down with deadlines, try playing with writing the same way a child may pick up a toy and start playing with it.
Creative play is a place where it’s just the bare bones – you, the artist, and your medium, the written word. It’s important here to really play with your medium purely as an artist – not as an activist, not as a mother, or father, or an entrepreneur, or any other hats you may wear.
Playing with art has a sense of innocence to it; there’s no pressure to perform, there’s no agenda. It’s just pure creation. Overtime we may layer on all these very serious things that can hide that initial creative origin, so try peeling back the layers by returning to a place of creative play with your creative writing.
Write a short story for the hell of it. Start writing the book you’ve always wanted to read growing up. Write a funny rhyming poem. Try an experimental hybrid approach to an essay. Study other writers’ work. The goal here is to just have fun.
Hone In On An Internal Motivator
Perhaps you’ve lost motivation to write because you are no longer the driving force behind your work. You lack internal motivation.
By internal motivation, I’m referring to things within your internal world (body, mind and soul) that motivate you to write, such as writing for the sake of art, or self-expression.
With an external motivator though, your driving force may be coming from the outside world — justice, recognition, money, truth telling, awareness, reconciliation. These often have a lot of strings attached to them, and a lot of pressure to perform.
For example, with self-expression as an internal motivator, there’s no strings attached.You are in control of how it affects you. It’s unlikely that you’d say, “If I don’t express myself, then justice hasn’t been met.” Instead, you might say, “If I don’t express myself, then I won’t feel very happy today, and I’d rather be happy so I’m going to write today.”
With motivators like money or justice though, you’ve got strings attached to those. The strings are usually fabrications in our own minds of what we think people want from us, or what the world wants from us, or what we think we owe the world based on the things we know or have experienced.
For instance, you may have experienced something that you want to get out into the world solely for the purpose of bringing awareness to it or trying to achieve some sense of social justice. But what if you publish it and still don’t achieve those things? Does that mean you failed? External motivators are conditional: “I’ll be happy with my writing or feel successful as a writer when and if I can make money from it, or spread awareness about a certain topic, etc.”
That being said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having external motivators – in fact I think they are healthy to have in order to create traction in your work and getting it out into the world. But if you only have external motivators, then that can suck the life out of a project pretty quickly, as it’s harder to control external things than it is to control how you feel inside about something. So external motivators may have the opposite effect of demotivating us without an internal motivator to balance it.
Finding something that motivates you internally such as self-expression, or desire for cathartic experience or therapeutic processing, allows you to be in control of those and regulate them.
Ask yourself, what is my primary motivator right now for this project? Is it an external one or internal? If it’s an external motivator, something outside of yourself, then perhaps try to reframe that as your secondary motivator, and choose a new primary motivator that is internal-based and deeply aligns with the project on a soul-body-mind level.
We can fuel our projects with ourselves more easily than we can with things outside our control.
Approach Your Writing Differently
There’s many ways to approach a project, and that approach may have shifted for you over time if you’ve lost motivation to write. Reevaluating what your position currently is and where it once was, and finding ways to get back to that is a good way to deconstruct why you’ve lost motivation to write. It doesn’t just happen out of nowhere! There is often an underlying cause that needs to be dug out.
I Still Don’t Feel Motivated To Write
I understand that a simple blog post isn’t going to change everything over night. We are complex beings. Quick fixes don’t always work!
I offer a free 1hr Discovery Call where we can discuss your lack of motivation to write. Oftentimes, having someone hold a mirror up to us is all we need in order to see and understand what’s wrong.