Whether you’re writing a novel or a simple blog post, staying motivated each day is key to finishing quickly and writing high-quality content. This has been a year of ups and downs for me, and it took me several months to begin my second novel.

But now that I’m fully in the swing of things, I’ve found that there are a few simple ways to stay on track. While DREAMING BIG is my overarching motivator, there are certain day-to-day tactics I use to stay motivated on a day-to-day basis.

1. Write every single day

The quickest way to lose motivation is to stop making progress. If I don’t write one day, I feel guilty, and the increased pressure of writing extra the next day to “make up for lost words” demotivates me even more. But if I write every single day — even if it’s only 400 words instead of my usual 1K or 1.5K goal, I’ve moved forward in some small way and maintained my momentum. Instead of feeling guilty, I’m pleased that despite my hectic schedule, I devoted just a bit of time to writing, and I’m ready to jump back in when it’s time to pick up the pace the next day.

2. Don’t make excuses

Your brain is a clever bugger, and it will rationalize not writing in all sorts of fun ways:

  • Oh, but I’m having dinner with a friend tonight.
  • Oh, but I had a long day at work and I’m just pooped.
  • Oh, but I have too many errands to run and there aren’t enough hours in the day.
  • Oh, but I had too many glasses of wine at that networking event.

Usually the best solution to any of these excuses is to write in the morning before your day has started. But find your own way to carve out 20 minutes from your day to write. And whenever you start making one of those classic excuses, call yourself out on it, sit your butt down, set a timer for 20 minutes, and type, type, type.

3. Don’t work in a vacuum

When I get positive feedback from my agent about an idea/pitch/etc., I basically become AN UNSTOPPABLE MACHINE because her excitement motivates me to make progress quickly.

If it’s too early in the process to bug her with my ideas, my husband and parents are always willing to hear me out, and they usually get excited about them, too. Their excitement validates my ideas, and makes me excited to move forward.

Some goes for work — if I have an idea for a blog post or an ebook, I’ll sometimes pass it by team members, and they’ll help me brainstorm or confirm that the idea is good.

If I kept all my ideas to myself, self-doubt would creep in, making me stare at the blank page longer, wondering if anyone will actually like what I have to say. Often the process of explaining an idea to someone else and hearing it out loud can help you know if your idea is good. There’s no need to waste time with self-doubt — ask the people closest to you to validate your ideas.

4. Learn what makes the task more fun for you

When I write, I have the most fun when I’m listening to movie soundtracks. At work, I can listen to any old soundtrack, but when I’m writing my novels I like to find songs that I can associate with a particular scene I’m writing. This propels me forward and often helps shape the scene, based on the emotion in the score.

When I don’t listen to music, sometimes writing feels more like a chore (unless the scene is SO TENSE that I race forward anyway).

If you find music too distracting to listen to while writing, find something that makes writing more fun for you. Perhaps like listening to the ocean — load calm.com in a browser and listen to the waves while you type. Maybe you enjoy munching on popcorn for your evening snack — pair that pleasurable activity with your writing time. This way, you’ll look forward to delivering your daily output.

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