Writing is often perceived as a hobby. It’s something to fill a lazy Sunday morning or an unexpected lull in the work day.
You wait for inspiration. Then, create.
But, if you’re one of the one in three American freelancers working as a writer, content marketer, journalist or copywriter you have to churn out words daily to meet deadlines, work goals and earn a paycheck.
Finding motivation isn’t always second nature when you have to do something daily, especially when the task requires creativity on demand.
Why do you think the phrase “writer’s block” exists? It can be very real.
I’m the first to agree that finding a writing groove on a schedule is difficult and sometimes impossible. But when you have clients waiting on copy, you have to perform. Over the past several years I’ve figured out a few ways to stay motivated.
1. Schedule writing time and stick to it. If it’s not on the calendar, it’s likely to get bumped. Schedule your writing time just as you would a doctor’s appointment or meeting with a new client. Then, stick to it.
2. Break each job into multiple little tasks. I never sit down and think, “I’m going to do this whole project from start to finish before I leave my desk.” Instead, I break almost every writing assignment into three or four sessions. I work on brainstorming ideas or an outline, conducting research, writing a draft and finally polishing the piece.
3. Never submit fresh copy. The final stage of my writing process is the most critical. Once I feel I have an almost-final draft, I press Ctrl-S and walk away. A few hours later, or the next day, I read the copy with a new perspective and often identify silly mistakes and make a few edits to improve the article flow.
4. Place a stack of bills on your desk. Yes, really. If you need motivation, knowing that you have a mortgage to pay or a phone bill coming due can put a pep in your step. You haven’t won the local lotto yet, so keep plugging away!
5. Reward yourself often. It’s helpful to have something to look forward to when you complete a large step in a writing project or seal the whole deal and send it off. Sometimes my rewards are as little as taking a 15 minute break outside with the dogs or taking the afternoon off to read a book or watch a movie.
6. Plan breaks ahead of time. In addition to scheduling writing time, you absolutely must schedule time for breaks. I often get into the mindset that if I keep working, I can reach my goals faster, or even break them. All. The. Time. This isn’t healthy. Both your body and your brain need down time to relax.
Writing daily requires discipline. It does get easier the longer you work as a professional writer. It doesn’t take as long to get into the creativity groove, and although you always need personal motivation, that feeling shifts when it’s your career. You have a team around you depending on your copy. That’s usually motivation enough most days.
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