Tips for Motivating Yourself to Write During a Pandemic

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It’s almost July which means it’s almost Camp Nanowrimo time WHICH MEANS it’s time for me to attempt another post that inspires both you and myself to actually write! This pandemic is a weird and strange time, and I know that I’ve been having more difficulty in motivating myself to write (and even read!) than in the past. The days are passing by in a blur, and I imagine a lot of you feel the same.

Figuring out a writing routine is a constant experiment, and I know this pandemic has made it even more of a struggle, so here are some tips that I’m currently trying and that I hope will also be helpful for you!

1. Find an Accountability Partner!

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a writing buddy or a writing group, but find someone in your household (or someone you can socially distance with) with whom you can arrange work sessions. It doesn’t matter what the other person is working on, as long as you can each motivate each other to be productive! And if you don’t have someone in person you can meet with, find an online writing group that hosts regular writing sessions together! Participating in challenges like Camp Nano (which let’s you personalize your goal!) is a great way to find a community and organized writing times.

2. Bribery and Rewards

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: bribe and reward yourself for sitting down to write! One of my favorite foods is honeycomb cereal, and I only let myself eat it when I’m writing (or working on job apps, lol). So when I’m craving the cereal, I have to be productive, or find something (hopefully) healthier to eat (a win-win, right?). When I’m all filled up on cereal, I’ll motivate myself to write with coffee, tea, bubble tea, sparkling water, beer, or wine. (If you’re 21+, remember to drink responsibly!)

Like my Labrador, I am very food-motivated, which is why my examples are all edible, but the bribes and rewards you use don’t have to be food-related! Instead, you could institute bigger rewards, like finally buying yourself a gift (or doing a fun activity!) after reaching so many words or days of writing in a row.

I also understand that not everyone has the means to go out and spend money on bribes or rewards, so another option could be rearranging your schedule: allow writing time to ‘unlock’ another part of your day e.g. “I can only watch the next episode in my TV show after I’ve written.”

3. Make a Goal or Plan, and Keep a Record!

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Depending on how you are, this may or may not work for you. Personally, I like to stay organized and have some semblance of a plan of attack. The first step is to have a goal. Currently, my plan is to see if I can revamp an old novel idea from a couple years ago, so my goal is to complete a 50K first draft during July for Camp Nano! And even better yet if your goal has a deadline! (Trust me: goals & deadlines are powerful tools.)

In addition to having a goal, make sure you have a way to track and record your writing. This could involve check lists, a habit tracker app, a bullet journal, or simply recording your daily progress on a loose piece of paper. Personally, I find it so satisfying to check off items from a bullet list. Or if you do Camp NaNo, to watch your progress chart go up each day. (Yes, I keep pushing Camp Nano, but that’s because my Camp NaNo participation has always led to my most productive writing months and I will never stop recommending it to others.)

There’s also the issue of whether you’re a plotter, pantser, or a plantser (a mix of the two). I’m definitely a plantser; I need a base outline/plan, but it can’t be too rigid or I’ll get stressed: I need the flexibility to also find my story. Again, the key is experimentation, and finding which one works best for you! Don’t be afraid of trying new prep methods! Currently, I’ve been creating character profiles to get to know my characters better.

4. Experiment, and find a location and time of day to works best for you

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Routines are a great way to make sure you’re regularly implementing writing into your daily/weekly life, so take the time and experiment to see what time of day is most productive for you!

And if your current writing space isn’t working, try new locations! Test out different chairs, rooms, or even try going outside! Depending on where you live, going to coffee shops, libraries, or parks may not be an option. If you find going out works best for you, make sure to wear a mask, stay distant from others, sanitize, and to change your clothes/shower afterwards! Of course, I would recommend trying to stay on your own property before going out and risking your own health and other’s!

Lately, I’m been trying to write outdoors and actually use the furniture on my deck, so I’ve also been experimenting with time periods in the morning and evening.

5. Arm up with Writing Gear

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I think this is especially important during a pandemic; dress to impress yourself, but also make sure you’re comfortable! On days I’m hoping to write, or I know I’ll be meeting with my writing buddy, I’ll usually try to wear one of my bookish t-shirts, or one of my writing totems (a writing totem is an article of clothing you only wear while writing to singal to yourself you’re leaving reality and entering a different frame of mind). Wear whatever you can that makes you happy, comfortable, and productive!

6. Start Small, and Be Kind to Yourself

We’re already in a pandemic/quarantine and full of more crazy and ugly emotions than usual, so don’t give yourself unnecessary stress. Start small, and aim to write a sentence or for 10 minutes a day–whatever works best for you. And be kind to yourself when you struggle; you and your mental, emotional, and physical health are important.


For more writing inspiration or ideas on how to motivate yourself, check out these other posts I’ve written over the last couple of years: Inspirational Writing Quotes, How to Motivate Yourself to Write, Writing Encouragement from the Midst of Camp NaNo, and Tips from Taking a Novel Writing Class.

Are you participating in Camp NaNo in July? What’s your current WIP about? Did you find any of these tips helpful? Do you have writing tips you’d like to recommend?

Happy Writing!

How to Motivate Yourself to Write

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In honor of Camp NaNoWriMo starting in July (in TWO DAYS, yikes), I thought I’d step away from my usual book-related posts and share some writing tips I use to get myself to sit down and actually write. I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to reading and writing, I tend to swing one way or the other: I’m either ONLY reading or ONLY writing, and I continually struggle to balance these two passions. For the past 2 months, I’ve continually found myself saying: “Eh, writing? I’ll pick it back up tomorrow. Or this weekend. Or the next.” AND THEN IT NEVER HAPPENS. Literally, between May & June, I sat down and wrote a grand total of 10 TIMES. (Which is truly sad because I wrote every day in April for that month’s Camp NaNo).

So, basically, I’m writing this post not only motivate YOU, but to remind myself of ways I trick myself into writing. We can do this, you guys!

1. Bribe Yourself to Write!

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Whatever you consider a treat–bribe yourself with it to write. This can be things like coffee, soda, popcorn, and wine (if you’re 21+). You could take yourself out to a coffee shop. I tend to bribe myself with coffee drinks and wine in the evening. If you pair your writing sessions with things that you enjoy, you’ll form a positive association with writing.

2. Reward Yourself for Writing!

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Now, I know this sounds pretty similar to the first tip, but while bribing yourself is something you do to actually write, while rewarding yourself is something you can do upon the completion of a successful writing session. Rewards can be whatever you want, as long it motivates you. Again, this can be food or drinks, or as simple as watching the next episode in your fav TV show, or spending an hour reading.

Additionally, you can make long term rewards. E.g. “If I finish my current draft of my WIP, I’ll buy myself that book I’ve had my eye on for awhile now.”  Or you could set rewards for every 50K or 10K words you reach.

3. Have a Writing Totem! Or food, or music…

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Now you’re probably asking, “What’s a writing totem?” This is something that I learned about in Chris Baty’s book, No Plot? No Problem!. A writing totem is something that you only wear when you write, to signal to yourself that you’ve switched over to writing mood. This could be a hat, a scarf, or even something as simple as earrings.

But honestly, this doesn’t even have to be an article of clothing. It could be a certain type of food you eat, or music you listen to. It could even be a specific scented candle that you light! As long as you ONLY utilize these items when you write, so they’re special to your writing sessions.

What I do is only allow myself to eat Honeycomb cereal when I write. I don’t let myself eat it any other time, even though it’s my favorite cereal. So if I want to eat Honeycomb cereal, I have to be writing or working on my WIP in some degree.

4. Dress for Battle!

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Though this is somewhat similar to wearing a writing totem, it’s not quite the same. Essentially, dress to impress yourself. If lounging around in your pjs makes you feel lazy & unmotivated, simply get dressed! Wear your favorite clothes and do whatever makes you feel like you’re at your best. On weekends, when I hope to get a lot of writing done, I like to braid back my hair and sometimes put on a little makeup. And I always wear my favorite graphic tees or cute tank tops. So if adorning a beret makes you feel artsy, do it! Dress however makes your writer self happy.

5. Participate in Writing Challenges!

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Whether it’s international or personal, join challenges and hold yourself accountable! In July 2018 and April 2019, I participated in Camp NaNo, and the online forums and tracking really helped me stay motivated and accomplish a lot of writing. If you haven’t tried Camp NaNoWriMo before, I totally recommend it! You can personalize your goal to fit your circumstances.

Currently, my writing buddy and I are competing to see who can write the most words in June. Loser buys the other a coffee. (I’m super competitive, so I really need to go see how much writing I can cram into these last two days, because I think she’s currently beating me…)

Also, if you guys know about more organized writing challenges, please let me know!

6. Find a Writing Community!

This is so important to have, not only to motivate yourself to write, but as a writer in general! Find your community, whether in be a local group, online forum, or a few writing buddies. I don’t know where I’d be without my writing buddy, who I’ve known since high school. She’s there to not only read my work and give feedback, but she let’s me bounce ideas off of her. She keeps me excited and motivated to work on my WIP, even when it seems like everything I write is a mess.

This past year, I’ve also discovered a few writing groups through Meetup. This site allows you to not only discover local writing events, but all different bizarre kinds of meetups! This is where I discovered the international group, Shut Up & Write!. All around the world, people meet up to simply write together for an uninterrupted hour. When I was in NYC and working on my creative writing project, these weekly writing meetups were a lifesaver–I got a lot written in these hours than I ever did on my own. And even if you can’t find anything on Meetup, look for groups through your local libraries and bookstores. Trust me, there are other writers out there waiting to connect with you!

Remember, every writer is different, so experiment with what works best in motivating yourself to write. You guys totally got this–I believe in you. Happy writing! ❤

How do you motivate yourself to write? Do any of these tips appeal to you? Are you participating in Camp NaNo? What’s your current WIP about? Let me know down in the comments!

My Favorite Inspirational Writing Quotes

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As not only a reader, but also a creative writing major and writer, I probably don’t talk about writing enough on this blog. I’m currently continuing to work on my WIP for my independent project here at my off-campus program in NYC, and let me tell you, I am STRUGGLING to write! Everyday, I get back from my internship and I have zero motivation to write and I’m constantly unable to envision how I want my WIP to pan out.

Which is why I thought I’d compiled a list of inspiring writing quotes, to motivate you fellow writers out there AND myself (and well, because it seemed like a nice and easy blog post since I’ve still struggling to get content out lately, lol).

don't be afraid to write crap because crap makes great fertilizer

Literally me every time I sit down to write. But seriously, I firmly believe that no writing is pointless; there’s always a good idea hidden in there, even it’s only a kernel at the time. It’s OKAY to write crap; your writing doesn’t have to be perfect right away.

writing is like driving through the fog at night. you can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

This is a quote that I like to refer to whenever I feel like plotting is the bane of my existence. I know the beginning and the end point of my WIP, and sometimes I feel like I know a couple of the directions coming up, but dang, am I clueless about the rest of the journey! I just need to accept a more pantser attitude and discover the plot as I go.

you have no expiration date. A story won't go bad if you give it time.

Okay, this probably isn’t exactly as she said it, but it’s the same general idea. When I saw Roshani Chokshi on her tour for The Gilded Wolves, she said this when asked about writing advice, and it really stuck with me. Seriously, there is no rush to write; take your time to write, and don’t give yourself unnecessary stress by giving yourself a rigid deadline. That’s not to say deadlines aren’t helpful; they totally are amazing tools to push yourself to write, just don’t use them to freak yourself out to the point that you’re unable to write.

I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I"m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles. Shannon Hale.

And of course I couldn’t not include a writing quote from the author of one of my favorite books! But seriously, sand castles are hard to build and so are stories. Not everything is going to be perfect from the get-go; you have to continually come back and sculpt it into your vision. That’s why revisions exist.

if you wish to be a writer, write

And finally, the one that should be quite obvious, but is honestly such a great reminder. If you write, you’re a writer; there is no question to it.

We’re only a couple weeks days away from April and that means Camp NaNoWriMo is almost here! I’ve only participated in Camp NaNo once, but I found it SUPER helpful and I can’t wait to participate again. But, CRAP, that means I need to figure out my goal and start mentally preparing myself to write a lot everyday, especially since my project is due at the beginning of April, so I really need the motivation and friendly environment of Camp NaNo. Yikes…

Are you a writer? What’s your current WIP? Did any of these quotes resonate with you? What are some of your favorite quotes about writing? Are you planning on participating in Camp Nano?

Camp NaNoWriMo: Update & Encouragement | July 2018

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Struggling with Camp NaNoWriMo? Me too, bro. Me too. 😅

Lol, I meant to get a Camp NaNo update post at the half way point through the month, but as you can see, I obviously failed at that (if you want to see my original post about Camp NaNo, you can view it here). I’ll try to make this post short and sweet, because I know you writers are probably anxious to return to your writing (I know I’m starting to be).

First off, let me tell you a little bit about my project for Camp NaNo. I’m working on revising my current WIP. The first draft is 50K words which I completed NaNoWriMo-style this past February with my Novel Writing class (If you want to know more about the class I took, here’s a post I wrote about it!). Of course, writing fantasy, I’d like to get my WIP up to ~100K words. Between my class and the (minuscule) writing I’ve done this summer, I started this month with 9.5K words already done on my second draft. Because I’m rewriting and I want to take more time on this draft (and not to mention I’m working full time), my goal for Camp NaNo is to add 25K words to the 2nd draft of my WIP.

Honestly, I started struggling with writing literally at Day 3. Suddenly my plot seemed insufficient in multiple areas, one of my side characters started begging for their own regular POV chapters, and my writing felt crappy whenever I sat down and started typing. Praise the lord I had my writing buddy to talk to, because she was also going through these “plot freak outs.”

When it comes to stressing, I’m not sure I’m the best person to give advice, but I’ll tell you how I coped. Whatever element of your story is bugging you; DON’T LET IT. I know that’s easier said than done, but what I mean is focus on what you know for sure you want in your story, whether it be a concept, a following scene, or whatever. Push that stressor to the back of your mind. Don’t forget it, but take a vacation from it. Revisit it occasionally to see if you can figure out a solution, but if it just stresses you out again, send it away again.

This leads in perfectly to one of my new favorite quotes, which comes from Kirstin Chen’s Camp NaNo Care Package on June 9th:

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

~ E.L. Doctorow

I love this quote so much, because this describes my writing process so perfectly right now. I’m currently working on rewriting the first quarter of my WIP, and while I know the basic plot points for the rest of my story, everything is foggy beyond the first 25%.

A lot of my fellow cabinmates seem to also be struggling, so I want to say this loud and clear for all you writers: don’t be afraid to lower your goal! Camp NaNo is suppose to be fun, not stress you out, so reevaluate your goal and change it until you feel confident in your ability to meet it! You want to strive and push yourself, but within reason. This is a month to unify with other writers and feel good about your writing. As long as you’re writing, even if it’s only a word a day, you have nothing to feel ashamed about!

Write like it matters, and it will.

~ Libba Bray

One of the biggest things that I also find myself struggling with in this revision stage is making my writing perfect. In my first draft, I let go of my “Inner Editor” and my writing was pretty crappy (and that’s okay!). But now I keep putting this unconscious pressure on myself to replace my crappy first draft with a nearly flawless version, which is 100% unrealistic.

So those of you struggling with the same thing, here’s what I’ve been telling myself:

  1. You can write as many drafts as you need
  2. Not everything will be fixed right away
  3. Each draft needs to only be slightly better than the prior one

Don’t be afraid to write crap because crap makes great fertilizer.

~ Jessica Brody

Wow okay, I never actually gave a true update on my progress:

Currently, I’ve written 15K words this month, so I’m about 2.7K words behind. I’m not too worried though because I still have this weekend and the next to catch up, not to mention that I’m going to be on a mini vacation the second half of this week, so I’ll hopefully have time then! If the stress becomes too much though, I might lower my goal to 20-22K words instead (no shame, remember?). I’m not loving my writing right now, but that’s okay because I know I can always go back and fix it later once my plot if solidified.

Now excuse me as I quit procrastinating and return to working on my WIP… 😅

Happy writing everyone!

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Do you have a WIP? Any writing advice you want to share? If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, how’s your progress so far?

Honestly, I would just love to talk to someone about writing, so please comment! ❤