Motivation for Novelists

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illuminara's avatar

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Motivating myself to write and keeping that motivation throughout a writing project is one of the biggest challenges I face as a writer. I get the impression a lot of other people struggle with it as well.

There are a lot of tools out there such as the Write or Die program and National Novel Writing Month designed to keep you motivated, but they're just gimmicks in my opinion. Writing takes a lot of time and effort, and we as humans need a very compelling reason to exert ourselves in such an extreme manner. A timer or deadline typically isn't good enough.

The only effective long-term motivator is a real, tangible reward. Finishing a novel is a great reward, but the gratification is too long coming to really work as motivation. So what reward system will actually keep you writing and rewriting until you can call your project officially finished?

Well, there's always chocolate. Aside from that, the only compelling reasons to keep writing are that you will literally go crazy if you don't and that you enjoy what you're writing so much that you don't want to stop.

Most writers fall at least somewhat short of certifiably insane when not writing, so I'd say the solution to staying motivated is to write something you're crazy about. If you're not, what's the point anyhow? You're never going to put the required time and effort into writing a story you don't totally love; it violates human nature.

On the flip side, it's easy to get excited about a story in its infancy and jump right into it. However, you'll usually find yourself stuck and hating it before too long. Psyching yourself up for a new idea isn't the same as lasting love for a story. You won't know if you're in deep enough love with your idea and characters to complete a novel with them until you've taken the time to figure out the entire story, beginning to end.

I'm not saying you have to outline everything in great detail--that rarely does wonders for your motivation. What I am saying is that you have to know where you're going with the story and the basics of everything that happens. Work out the kinks before you start--that way you're less likely to get stuck and lose interest halfway through. Also, it's always a good idea to make sure your story won't have any gaping, unrectifiable plot holes before you spend hours and hours writing something you end up having to trash.

Most importantly, you have to write or at least know the ending before you start writing from the beginning. Make it an epic ending, an ending you can't wait to reach, an ending everything in your story builds up to and revolves around. Always push forward toward this ending, and make sure everything else in your story lines up to it as you write.

For me, this is the best way to keep myself writing until I reach that sweet, sweet final page. The best part is, I already wrote it, so now I'm just connecting the dots until I get there. Who knows, maybe it will work for you too.
My thoughts on how to legitimately motivate yourself to write a novel. Yes, I actually have written several of them.

You have my permission print, copy or put this on the web anywhere you like. Credit is always appreciated. :aww:

More of my writing articles can be found here:…
© 2011 - 2022 illuminara
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GreyRoseKit's avatar
wait how many words do you need for it to be considered a novel? because I have 18,000 words so far and it takes up 30 pages on my word document 
illuminara's avatar
It depends on the genre, but most likely 70K to 90K.
Obelis's avatar
I motivate myself by watching anime only after I've finished my daily minimum word count. :nod: Works just as well as chocolate.
illuminara's avatar
:giggle: That sounds like a good way to stay motivated!
Bahogar's avatar
The ending... Now I understand why I couldn't finish a single story. I had absolutely no idea how to end them :(

Thank you for the small tips, I'm sure it'll be useful!
illuminara's avatar
:aww: I feel your pain. Not sure if you've seen this yet, but it might help: Want vs. Need
Bahogar's avatar
Thank you! I just read it, and it's very helpful.

I think I'll have a closer look at your tutorials, they're extremely informative. Thank you so much for sharing them :hug:
illuminara's avatar
You're welcome! I hope you can find something useful in them. Just be warned that my older ones might not be quite so well informed. :P
House-of-Bones's avatar
This is very inspirational, thank you! I'm havig a hard time moving my plot forward, but I'll endeavor to keep going. I know where I'm going wrong at least, so that's half the battle. My Antagonist is very unbelievable!
illuminara's avatar
Thanks, glad it helped! Antagonists are always a challenge. >.>
cupcakemichi's avatar
I usually write out of order. I did this for NaNo... then I killed off one of the main characters. ^^' I ended up re-writing everything that was supposed to go after that point in the book. XD
Good suggestions, as long as you don't do what I ended up doing. XD
illuminara's avatar
lol writing is an adventure; you never really know what will happen. Figuring it out as you write is what makes it fun whether you have an outline or not. But yeah, how'd your NaNo project turn out?
cupcakemichi's avatar
I liked 09's better, but 10's isn't that bad. It turned out waaaaay dark. After the re-write/edit, it will probably stay in my drawer, unlike 09's, which I actually have hope for. But I won! -dances-
-an idea forms- You know... No one really started dying until the end of week two... Huh. Maybe I should put some more happy songs on my playlist around week 2...
illuminara's avatar
lol Winning is awesome, but I always though the main point of NaNo was what you do with your novel AFTER it's over. =P
cupcakemichi's avatar
Well, yeah, but I'm just trying to get myself to finish something in the first place. Someday I might go back to '10, but for now, it's all about '09. I really like the plot and some of the characters. ^^ And the writing actually isn't bad...
illuminara's avatar
You should definitely stick with the stories you like and that don't suck too badly. :nod:
mackwrites's avatar
Wolvenmoon's avatar
I should stop debating people and start writing, but persuasive writing is so much fun!
illuminara's avatar
It can be, but I've noticed that arguing on the internet doesn't typically persuade anyone to anything.
Wolvenmoon's avatar
[link] Less internet arguing, more politely convincing an industry to change.
Twilight-Red-Tammy's avatar
I know about a well-known writer in my country that in order to motivate himself to finish his work he had scheduled to write every day a couple of hours and stopped for the day at a part which he enjoyed writing. I know it's quite the torture, but he at that point got away from his desk and eagerly waited for tomorrow to continue writing. :D
And another writer (though maybe this one's a bit off-topic) when having finished his work or simply got stuck with writer's block, he placed it in a drawer in his desk and left it there, often for months. That way, when he came across it again he was able to read it more objectively and see if there's any room for improvement. (I did this one and it really works)
illuminara's avatar
lol that first idea sounds pretty good. I just worry that I'll forget all my good ideas by the next day. :XD:

I do that a lot, and it does really work. I love recycling bits and pieces of past ideas and working them into new stories, too. Just because I never made anything of one story doesn't mean it can't come out again in the future.
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