Writing a book can feel like trying to ride across the desert on a bike sometimes.
In fact, we can often pour more energy into making excuses NOT to write (and isn’t that such a waste of our creativity?). I’ve heard all the excuses over the years (read the top 10 excuses here > https://michelleemerson.co.uk/top-10-excuses-not-writing-biz-book/.
So how do you stay motivated enough to start, stay on track and actually finish the first draft?
Keep reading to find out.
#1 Consistency is key
When you’re writing a book, aim to write something every day. If you can, avoid binge-writing. What’s binge-writing? Well, it’s where you write for two or three (or more) hours in one day and then put it to one side for days or weeks. Writing in this way means you lose your momentum. Your first draft will take forever to write AND you’ll need to keep re-reading what you wrote because you’ll have lost your thread.
Writing 500 words a day is way better than writing none.
#2 Make yourself accountable
There’s nothing like a dollop of accountability to keep you going. So if you’re writing a book, then start talking about it.
- Tell your social media followers you’re writing your book.
- Tell your subscribers.
- Tell your friends and family.
- Take pictures of your word count as it grows.
- And share, share, share!
This won’t just keep you accountable (no one wants to be a talker instead of an action-taker) but it will also drum up a buzz about your forthcoming book. And when you have readers excited, ready and waiting … there’s no bigger motivation to keep writing.
#3 You have something special to share
Remember, you have a special message to share. You have readers waiting. You have something to say that has the potential to change lives/impact businesses/improve lifestyles – whatever it is, your message is unique and deserves to be heard.
It’s easy to get bogged down in self-doubt whilst on your book-writing journey but don’t stay there too long. Shake off that reverie. Take a look at my article if you have mind monkeys who keep interfering with your writing progress.
#4 When your head’s too busy to write
We’ve all got busy lives and sometimes it just feels like you don’t have the headspace to write, doesn’t it? So if your head is all over the place and you can’t focus on the paragraph or chapter you’re supposed to be writing then stop. Step away from your writing and:
- Get real | remember to just think about today’s goal and nothing else. Forget about the big picture. Think only of today’s writing goal/word count target and this will quell the overwhelm.
- Get organised | declutter your workspace if you have to. Get it tidied up. Take those coffee cups away, Discard those scrunched up bits of paper. Wipe your desk down. Open the window. (I always do this after I’ve finished a particularly intense job – usually after a heavy proofreading session – and in my mind, I’m releasing all that tired, stuck, heavy energy out of the window.) Light a candle to create a calm and conducive working environment – always works for me.
- Get quiet | turn off distractions, put some relaxing mood music on in the background (or turn off the radio if you need complete silence) and take a few deep breaths to get in the zone. Always turn off your phone. My output significantly increases if my phone’s off. If you need to keep your phone on, however, put it in another room or just outside your door so you can hear it ring but you can’t just absent-mindedly pick it up for a quick mindless scroll.
- Get clear | journal it out, grab a piece of paper and a pen and empty your thoughts onto the page. Whatever is filling up your brain space right now, and stealing your creative energies, write it down. Another technique I try is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Read more about breaking through the writing blocks using EFT here > https://michelleemerson.co.uk/breaking-through-the-writing-blocks-with-eft-emotional-freedom-technique/
Removing the chaos, overwhelm and seeing it in black and white puts everything in perspective. Find out more about clearing your chaotic brain here > https://michelleemerson.co.uk/help-my-brains-too-busy-to-write/
#5 Give yourself a reward
Are you spending too much time beating yourself up by looking at the work you HAVEN’T done yet? Then stop.
Get into the habit of scheduling five minutes into your diary at the end of every day to remind yourself what you HAVE done.
Often, we think we haven’t been productive when, in fact, the opposite is true. Make this HAVE DONE HABIT a regular one and you’ll soon stop being so tough on yourself.
You’re a writing superstar! And don’t you forget that!
#6 Stick to a routine
When you don’t write one day, it quickly escalates into two, then three days and before long you just think, why bother? (Rather like when you’re dieting and have a ‘naughty’ day which escalates into a ‘what-the-hell’ week.)
The good news is you can avoid staying in the no-write-rut quite easily by carving out and sticking to a regular writing routine – something like this could help:
- Set a daily word count target (no matter how small) – or a time target if that’s easier.
- Commit to a designated time slot – write first thing each day before you do anything else, for example, or first thing after you’ve stopped for lunch if your brain’s in a higher gear by then.
- Ditch the distractions, set a timer and just write.
- Once you’re finished, decide on tomorrow’s target and put your writing away. A daily writing habit/routine builds momentum, stops the excuses and significantly increases your word count.
So the next time you’re wondering how to be consistent, keep progressing and writing, create your routine and stick to it.
#7 Overcoming writer’s block
Do you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall? Are you struggling from writer’s block? Don’t worry.
I’ve been there plenty of times too but now I have a few tricks and techniques to call on when I know I’m standing in my own way.
Try these tricks to get your mojo back on track.
- Pop on your walking boots and head outside. Clearing your head and getting away from your computer screen (and/or your first draft) will help you put things in perspective.
- Flick through your previous writing. This will help you get back in flow, appreciate what you’ve written, spark new ideas and get you moving again.
- Remind yourself why you’re writing your book. What’s the big picture, your vision and overall intention? If you haven’t thought about this do it now, write it down, stick it on your wall until you’ve finished writing your book. It’s great for keeping you grounded.
- Grab a drink of water – sometimes our brains just need hydrating to function better.
- Wander through the Amazon bookshelves and look at similar books in your niche. If a bit of competition doesn’t put some fire in your belly, nothing else will.
And check out one of my blocks from the archives > https://michelleemerson.co.uk/re-ignite-your-creative-mojo-shift-writers-block/
#8 Remember who you are talking to
Keep your reader uppermost in your mind as you write. This means you’ll make your content more relatable and easy to understand. And it will stop you from simply bleugh-ing out all the facts without the personality.
Imagine you’re telling your friend something over a coffee and it will read much more naturally.
If you have to bleugh all the facts out first, then do so, but edit it afterwards to sprinkle in your emotional/engaging/human touch and make it sound like you.
The more you can connect with your reader, the more benefits they will glean from your book and that can have a long-term ripple effect around all aspects of your business.
#9 Enjoy the journey
Writing a book doesn’t have to be boring or a chore, I promise. You are allowed to enjoy the journey! Don’t keep thinking of how much more writing you have to do to finish your book. Rather, enjoy the journey.
Enjoy conjuring up different words to extend your vocabulary. (If you’re in the habit of overusing the same words, keep an online thesaurus (www.thesaurus.com) open as you type. Check out alternative words (synonyms) and their opposites (antonyms) – it always sparks fresh ideas. And if you really want to get into the word nerd zone, keep a special notebook to add new words to. I have one and I love it.
Enjoy sprinkling some of your personality into your writing when things feel too dry and clunky. Read it aloud if you’re unsure whether a robot could have written it. Your readers want to hear YOUR voice.
Enjoy the notion of bringing the senses alive for your reader to leave a picture on their memory, think: smell, sight, sound, touch, taste. Try and conjure up filmic images with your description so that it plays out like a cinema screen in their imagination. That’s the way to make your writing memorable.
Enjoying each writing session will add extra energy to your message and your reader will feel that as they read your book.
#10 Remember how far you’ve come
Remember when your book was just a pipedream? Remember thinking how amazing it would be to write and publish your book? Remember thinking it was way beyond your capabilities?
Well look at you now. Appreciate how far you’ve come. Be grateful for how much more confident you are in yourself and your book-writing skills.
Don’t waste your energy beating yourself up because you think you haven’t made enough progress. Rather, consider where you are right now and accept it is exactly where you’re supposed to be. And the only way is forward.
#11 Beginnings are easy; endings are hard
How much progress are you making today? This week? This month?
If you’ve stopped writing or stopped prioritising your writing, then why not pick it back up today?
Every day is a new day to start again. Writing off one day doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write off the week/month/quarter. If you’re working to a daily target, then tweak that target so you can catch up a little more tomorrow.
Don’t let all the writing you’ve done so far go to waste.
You probably don’t realise just how close you are to overcoming that sticky spot you’re in right now. Remember, most people can begin to write a book but few reach the end. And never forget why you started this book-writing journey in the first place.
#12 Keep showing up
Keep showing up – even when you don’t feel like it.
Keep writing – even when Netflix is calling.
Keep ignoring the mind monkeys – they tell fibs.
Keep focusing – and you’ll reach the end.
Keep committing – it will pay off soon.
Keep going – you’ve got this.
The difference between winners and losers is that winners keep showing up.
#13 Pick your pen back up
When you need to rediscover your creative mojo, don’t stare at a screen. Print off the pesky problem page you’re trying to write and work through it with a pen. Mind-map the fundamental points you want to make (those ones that are keeping you stuck right now).
If that doesn’t work, then just journal. Empty your thoughts onto paper, even if they just read …
“I’m struggling to write this page today. I thought it was going to be easy to get my message across about x, y and z but it’s not working…”
Seeing what’s stuck in your head in black and white takes away its power. And pretty quickly, you’ll find that this stumbling block was only a small one anyway.
The difference between winners and losers is that winners keep showing up.
#14 Focus on the magic
Writing your book is a short-term investment of your time and energy which will benefit your business FOREVER! So stay focused on the magic that will happen once your book is complete and published, like:
– the benefits for your readers
– the benefits for your biz
– the big smile on your face when you tell your friends and family they can buy your book on Amazon!
Focus on the magic, the results, the positivity, the reason why you started writing in the first place, and this will get you out of any negativity and stagnation. You have got this.