1. Separate the “have to” from the “want to.” Sometimes you can’t focus on an assignment with a deadline until you officially set aside (just for now) the fun writing thing you’d rather be doing … or non-writing thing.
2. Write down everything that is distracting you, whether it’s a thought, an idea, or something you’d “rather be doing” that isn’t writing-related. Just get it all out in the open.
3. Look at your “I’d rather be doing this thing” list. Think of how much more you’d enjoy that thing if you saved it until after you finished your writing for the day.
4. Be honest with yourself about why you “don’t want to” write. Are you tired? Bored? Scared? Unsure? Check in with yourself and acknowledge — maybe even tackle head-on — your own feelings.
5. Move away from the things you tend to do instead of writing when you’re low on motivation. (For me this means stepping away from any device that would allow me to shop on Amazon … oops.)
6. Minimize or tighten your goal. Were you planning to write 1,000 words tonight? Maybe shoot for 500 instead and see if that’s more manageable, or easier to approach.
7. Set a “start time” and go do something fun — with a time limit — until that time. Then go straight to your writing place and do the thing. Try. Really try.
8. Don’t talk down to yourself for struggling to get something done. Everyone struggles. Everyone has those days. Encourage yourself. Try to stay positive.
9. Writing about how unmotivated you feel to write sounds like a weird approach, but it’s magically “cured” my lack of motivation more times than I can count.
10. Write down, read, recall, say out loud the reasons(s) you wanted to start writing in the first place. Sometimes you just need a quick reminder, even from yourself, that your dreams are not pointless.
11. Never give up completely. Shift focus, yes. Set things aside, yes. Take breaks. Give yourself room to breathe. But don’t deny yourself space to create. You deserve better than that.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.