A few years ago, my husband and I formed a writer’s group with some fellow writers in our area when we needed some writing motivation. We meet monthly to discuss our writing concerns, goals, and to give criticism of projects we’ve submitted for critique.
But all of us have admitted to a similar issue: the discipline to sit down and do our non-job-related writing on a daily basis. We needed some writing motivation.
We’ve each started various writing projects but never completed some (most?) of them. Even things as simple as a short article might never be finished or a short story for a contest or… You get the idea.
So, we asked: What can we do to fix this issue? How can we become accountable for our writing?
We’ve created consequences that actually motivate us not to miss our mark each week at the weekly check-in via email. We’ve also given ourselves the reward of writing sentences for a writing game project written by the whole group. (And let me just say, the story has gone some unusual places between our whimsical, sci-fi, fantasy, and inspirational writing styles blending together!)
We set up a variety of rules to help keep us in check and to keep things reasonable. For example, we must all check in with each other by 10 pm on a given day, giving new writing goals for the week, and all updates from the previous week’s goals.
Also, whoever is the “least” writer for the week is required to do a dreaded task: write in the unfavorable genre of choice for 10 minutes, as given by the leader of the pack.
For example, if I were the “least” writer for the week and my husband was the leader, he would have to choose between the five genres I told him I most would hate to read or write, and I must spend a minimum of 10 minutes writing that genre. I have one week to finish the assignment and must submit it with my update by next Saturday.
This has been a cost-free, highly effective motivation for all of us thus far. We’re still working out the kinks, but let me tell you: I do not want to write Glee fanfic for even a minute, let alone ten.
If you’re part of a writer’s group, even one that cannot meet in person, you could try something along these lines to help you stay motivated to write every day. Or, if you’re isolated in your writing, give your best friend or spouse a list of the five genres you most hate and ask that person to assign your consequence any week you miss the mark.
Just be realistic in your goal setting, and create a realistic list of valid excuses for yourself. Being in the hospital, having another type of medical or legal emergency, or anything along those lines, should give you a pass on the days affected. But don’t go soft on yourself, either, and claim your sprained ankle that kept you from running also kept you from sitting on your butt writing your memoir.
And if all that doesn’t sound like a fit for your motivation style, try these consequences and rewards ideas as a springboard to find something that does work for you. After all, for some of us, those lovely badges on NaNoWriMo are enough, but for many, they’re simply not.
- Reward: If you have a little fluid cash, you can literally reward yourself with little prizes that motivate you. Maybe a new mouse pad for the laptop that’s a bit more indulgent of your fandoms than your current boring black one. Or, maybe a great new coffee mug that shows off your NaNoWriMo pride? Anything small and motivating for yourself as a reward for completing a minor (or major) writing goal. I suggest doing this for weekly hitting your marks.
- Consequence: If you miss your target, you have to donate $5 to a charity you hate.
- Reward: Time to watch a movie after you finished your designated writing for the day/week.
- Consequence: You have to give up a social event to stay home and write. (Don’t do this if you really need that outing for your mental health, though!)
Editor-in-Chief of The MockingOwl Roost, Rita Mock-Pike is the granddaughter of aviatrix, Jerrie Mock, first woman to pilot an airplane solo around the world. Rita has found inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theatre, podcasting, novel writing, and cooking up delicious food from around the world. She now writes on food, travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves the very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.