Many writers have trouble starting.
Most of the time it’s because they’re too distracted by other things (we’re all guilty of it). Sometimes it’s because you’re not “in the zone” yet.
Thankfully there are a lot of ways to get there. The problem is that everyone reaches this point in different ways — there’s no universal strategy that’s guaranteed to work for everyone. For some, it’s music. For others, a few chapters of a book or an episode of a TV show. Maybe working out gets you going. Maybe you’re just a superhuman and feel motivated to write all the time, all day, every day (if only).
The other issue is that you might not have just one “motivator.” You might have two, or 20, or 100. And they’re always changing.
Your go-to “get ready to write” strategy shifts constantly, which just makes all this that much harder to figure out.
For me right now it’s blasting Lindsey Stirling in the background. It only takes a few songs for me to go, “Okay, I’m ready.” But tomorrow it could be different. Tomorrow I might need an inspirational quote (no matter how often I roll my eyes at them), or my favorite breakfast, or playtime with my fur baby.
The thing that motivated you as you worked on your last project might not have the same effect with this next one. And it’s probably always going to change from month to month, week to week, maybe even from day to day. Some days you might not even need anything “extra” — you can just get up and start creating.
This isn’t the same thing as “looking for inspiration,” which is a terrible way to spend your writing time. There’s a difference between motivation and inspiration, for one thing — but there’s also a difference between going out and looking for reasons to write and pumping yourself up to do the writing you already know you want/have to do.
This is why I always recommend blocking out a short block of time to mentally prepare yourself for writing before you actually dive in. It’s like the warmup period before you start your HIIT workout. The jog before you start running. The caffeine before you start functioning.
If you want to write, but you just can’t get to the starting line, don’t give up. There is a way. Sure, some days, you’re just going to lay down and stay there and not get anything done. But don’t let that day be every day.
I know it’s hard. Writing is not an easy task. You knew that going into it (at least I hope you did!). When you’re not feeling it, just remember how it feels once you’re done. You’re not always going to enjoy the process. But the end result is always worth the effort.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.