When Motivation Goes on Strike

when motivation

Whether attempting to write an essay, blog, or a novel, we’ve all faced that moment when our minds go blank and we stare at the screen in confusion and bewilderment. It’s something every writer has experienced.

When motivation goes on strike, it sets off a chain reaction. It can initiate writer’s block, which erases any ideas we ever had, our mental energy drains, our eyes cross from staring at the screen, and we lose half our hair from pulling it out in frustration.

So, when our motivation decides to pack its bags and hightail it out of here, what can we do?

#1: Get Away

This might seem like an odd thing to do, but the one time you aren’t near the computer or laptop, inspiration will hit. Do chores. Do the dishes. Go to Walmart. Or mow the lawn or shovel snow. Your mind will go into creative overload, and you’ll likely lose what’s left of your sanity due to your inability to write it down at that precise moment. But what’s a little insanity when you can get that word count in, or get that scene written?

#2: Reread the Last Five Chapters

Sometimes, all you need is to go back and reread the last five chapters. Not only will this “refresh” your memory of what’s happening, but it also gets you back into the characters, and can stir your creative juices. Whatever situation your characters are in will be fresh in your mind, which makes it easier to cook up a solution – or even more problems for your characters.

jack london

#3: Watch a Movie

Watching a movie that is the same genre as your book will often spark ideas for your work-in-progress. Writing fantasy? Watch Lord of the Rings. Science Fiction? Rogue One. Just be sure that you don’t copy directly from whatever you watch. It’s fine to be inspired, but not to create the same scenario that can easily be identified as taken from a movie.

#4: Listen to Music

I have a theme song for each of my main characters, and other songs that apply to the book in general. Listening to “All of Me” by Ashes Remain helps me feel for and get in the mood to write my character who has a hard time believing God actually cares. Why? Because this song echoes what my character feels and experiences. “Stronger” by Mandisa and “I Can Wait” by Mikeschair are also songs critical in helping me write upcoming main characters.

Listening to music can also put you in the mood to write a particular scene. While “Lonely Are The Brave” by Two Steps From Hell inspires me for a particular scene, it reminds me of the series’ general feel: slowly shifting from troubled and turbulent to triumphal.

So, find that song that inspires you for your character or a particular scene, listen to it, and be ready for inspiration to strike once again.

#5: Step Away

While this might seem like #1 reworded, there’s a big difference between getting away from a project for a few hours, and actually stepping away from a project for a few days, weeks, or even months.

I worked on one  WIP for seven months before my motivation appeared to take a permanent leave. As in, I had nothing. Nothing. Right when I was crafting my proposal, too. Talk about timing. When none of the aforementioned solutions helped me regain my motivation, I put the manuscript aside for the entire month of January. It was tough, but necessary. When I finally returned, I was slowly able to integrate myself back into my characters’ lives, their problems, and their world, and resume perfecting the proposal and manuscript.

#6: Create

I’ve discovered that taking a few minutes to work on my potential author website designs, even though getting published is nowhere in my immediate future, really stirs the creative juices. While not everyone may know or be learning how to create websites, there are other ways to get creative as well. Draw a scene from your manuscript. Get out in nature and take pictures of places that would make good settings. Go on Pinterest and create a board for your book ideas. I have several, some of which are “Weapons”, “Situations Characters Find Themselves In”, and “Settings for Books”. These always give me some sort of inspiration or prod to go back to writing.

Writing is difficult. But don’t let lack of motivation hold you back. Find what works best for you for inspiration, and write!


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