How to motivate yourself to write: 8 top tips

Published on: 06 February 2018 Author: Taran Matharu

Have you got a great idea for a story, but you can't quite get round to writing it? Or do you get started and then struggle to keep going? Never fear, because BookTrust's Writer in Residence Taran Matharu has eight top tips to keep you motivated...

Taran Matharu

In November 2013, I managed to complete NaNoWriMo, a challenge where you must write 50,000 words of your novel in one month. The book was simultaneously posted on the social reading site Wattpad.com, where it was read over 7 million times. Here is my advice on how to achieve your writing goals...

1. Set a daily target

Work out a target word count and divide it by the number of days you want to complete it by. Scrivener is a great writing program that does this automatically for you, recalculates on a daily basis and illustrates the stats for you in a cool infographic. It even allows you to take weekends off.

1000 words a day is an ambitious but doable goal. If you think about it, that's five average length novels a year!

2. Make it public

It's easy to lie to yourself, especially when you come back home after a long day and there's something good on TV. My advice is to announce your goal to the world, be that on social media or to family and friends. Update your progress as you go, so you're held accountable if you skip a day or fail to meet your target. It's rather like running a marathon. You can't say you're going to do it and then chicken out, right?

Writing

3. Find beta readers

For me, this was a very important factor. There is nothing more encouraging than feedback on your work. What is usually a solitary activity becomes social and you look forward to hearing others' thoughts. It's a great reward and affirms that your story is one people enjoy reading. I found Wattpad was a great place to find these readers, but family, friends and colleagues can be just as good - if a little biased!

4. Don't edit

It sounds a little crazy, I know, but hear me out. Getting the words down is far more important and it's easy to get bogged down in retouching what you've already written. A caveat is giving it a quick read through before the beta reader stage, for typo-correcting purposes only.

5. Always make a start

Inevitably, there will be days where you're just not in the mood. The solution, at least for me, is to tell yourself that you're only going to write a few sentences rather than skipping a day. Open up the manuscript and start writing. You will be shocked at how quickly you are pulled back in and the words mount up. Sometimes I go well above my daily target when starting like this. Even if you don't, something is better than nothing, right?

Writing

6. Try and finish mid-sentence

This is a trick that has served me well. It's always easier to continue on a half-finished sentence or scene, allowing you to easily pick up where you left off the next day. Equally, if I finish a chapter, I always make a start on the next one while the writing juices are flowing. That way, I don't start my next session staring at the blank page of a new chapter.

7. Plotting is key

We all write differently; some of us are plotters, some of us just wing it. But when you're writing so much so quickly and are trying to hit a word count, it can be easy to write yourself into a corner or fill your manuscript with pointless descriptions as you flounder for what happens next. I'm not suggesting you plan out the entire novel, but it can be good to have a rough structure first, so you know in which direction to take the story.

8. Keep it fun

Finally, if it's becoming a chore, don't be afraid to rethink the direction your plot is going in to spice things up for you. If you're getting bored and losing interest in your own story, the same can easily happen to the person reading it!

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