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Friday, June 1, 2007

Staying Motivated

Something I learned very quickly while writing, well more to the point attempting to write my first book was how difficult it is staying motivated to write the thing!

In the introduction to Financial Dignity I referred to recalling quite clearly finding myself 3 years older than when I had first started writing. Realising it was still nowhere near finished was a real wake up call. I shudder to think that those 3 years had crept up on me so swiftly. The inexorable movement of time had caught me out while I was looking the other way and I had let it pass by unchallenged.

Staying motivated is one of those difficult things. The book took a lot of time to research and develop but I was to realise just now much time was taken up doing nothing. Many months would go by without even lifting a pen, tapping a key on the word processor, or turning over a page.

In between times I would feel highly motivated and would get stuck into the research and bang out a few more pages then do nothing for months.

I think it is human nature to subconsciously take the easy route. To do the more pleasurable things in life and leave the difficult things to last or just hope they go away. Staying motivated is one of those difficult things. I was torn between wanting to complete the book I had persevered with for so long and quitting to do something easy.

Staying motivated to write is a real problem that I am sure has put a premature end to the writing aspirations of many.

The secrets of motivated people.

Several months past by… my conscious continued to troubled me about not continuing with the book and then…A Eureka moment came at 4 o'clock one morning when I awoke with a moment of clarity that often follows a good night sleep when the mind does that marvellous peculiarity of unravelling and sorting the problems and discourse of the day. "The real problem was not staying motivated to write. It was what to do when I was not motivated to write".

When writers are stuck one of the best cures is to read. So I started reading about motivation and motivated people. But just learning about something does not make it happen! It seemed to me to be a subject easy to write about but hard to achieve. But what I did gain from that research was two very useful tenets that all motivated people know and practice.

  • To progress Just Do The Next Task.
  • Don't try to eat Elephants whole! Split the project into smaller more manageable and less daunting chunks.

I am sure these two tenets are the best kept secret of motivated people. Just learning them was key and things started to become clear.

How was I to stay motivated to write something for an hour or two following a hard days work?

The Answer was simple "DON'T"

Don't wait for the motivation to happen just do something!

Do something every day whether you feel like it or not.


To keep from being overwhelmed by the size of the project split it up into smaller chunks called task then just do the next task.

In practice I would come in from the day job, get a drink (Tea!) and then…just do the next task, which could be research, writing up, editing, whatever useful task needed to be done (sharpening pencils does not count as a task!!!).The task could be as small as writing the next sentence or paragraph. As a writer you will know if you can get one sentence down, many others will often follow. Remember that sentence does not need to be perfect first time. Just learning to get something down then editing it later is an important tip for novice writers. A sentence may seem such a small task but it takes you a vital step nearer to finishing your book.

Just Learning

Doing it at the same time of day everyday trains your mind and body to anticipate what is going to happen next and then allow it to become habit forming.

By just learning this habit of taking action the new pages to the book started to accumulate along with new ideas and inspiration. Seeing the book starting to take shape after so long then motivated me to do more and help reinforce the habit of taking action.

It seems to me staying motivated is like waiting for a bus if it does not come along you are going nowhere. You are stuck at the bus stop waiting, doing nothing and the world is just passing you by, So do not wait for the bus, start walking! One step at a time.

Do not wait for motivation to happen just do the next task.

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