Thank you, Thomas Frank, for inspiring this post! Listen to College Info Geek’s latest podcast episode after you’re finished here.
What’s the first thing you say, when someone asks you why you’re not writing?
I’m just not feeling motivated. I need more motivation.
Then you go home and kill a few hours marathoning Mr. Robot. Checking your email. Getting yourself trapped in the Tumblr vortex.
All things you wouldn’t be doing if you were writing. All things you wouldn’t be doing if you didn’t have them around to keep you from writing.
It’s not motivation you’re after. It’s a lack of distractions. And only you have the power to do what you have to do to put writing first, in front of the things you would much rather be doing.
As Frank’s guest, Steve Kamb, pointed out in yesterday’s podcast, going on an epic quest to find the motivation you don’t think you have isn’t going to get you any closer to getting anything done. What’s going to get you to sit down and do what you need to do … is, actually, sitting down and doing what you need to do. Forget about your distractions.
You’re going to end up wasting valuable writing time “searching for motivation” or “trying to find your muse” instead of sealing yourself inside your mental and physical writing space and actually getting some writing done. It’s time to stop talking about finding your inspiration and start getting to work.
Here are a few things you can do to put writing ahead of your favorite productivity crushers:
- Do it first thing in the morning. If you tend to put writing off until every other task on your to-do list is done, put writing first. Even if that means you have to wake up a little earlier. Give it a try. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay!
- Having trouble keeping a schedule? Get a word-count widget. I now have one over to the right to keep myself on track for getting this month’s novella written and ready to distribute by the end of January.
- Just start writing. I’ve written this before and I’ll write it again (but now I have two more writers to back me up – thanks guys!): everything changes when you just sit down and start. Those first few hundred words are really, really hard. But at around 500 of them in one sitting, you’re going to be able to double, triple, quadruple your word count for the day if you have the time and energy. Never underestimate your own brain.
I didn’t go looking for the inspiration for this post: it found me. While creating and finding photos for blog posts, I listen to podcasts, and just so happened to pick this episode first in my feed. I got inspired. I paused the episode. I clicked over and wrote this blog post, and then I, of course, finished listening to the episode after the fact.
If anything in today’s post inspired you to write something of your own, go. Right now. Write while you’re feeling inspired. Don’t wait. Everything else will just have to.
Image courtesy of Sascha Kohlmann/flickr.com.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.