How to find the enthusiasm to write

advice | copywriting

This may come as a little bit of a surprise, given that I’m a writer and the main element of my job is to write. But even I sometimes struggle to find the motivation to sit and write. Sometimes the words won’t come, no matter how much I huff and puff and tap out and delete, tap out and delete line after line. I figure if this happens to me, it can most certainly happen to you as you try to write out a blog post for your website, or tackle an email for a potential client. So, allow me to give you my top eight tips on how to find the enthusiasm to write, even when you don’t feel like it! 

Set a time limit

When I’m feeling unmotivated, the thought of sitting down all day to write, or even for an hour, can seem daunting. And I’ll do anything to put off the task. 

But if I set myself a short time limit – say, 10 minutes – it’s so achievable and barely seems worth worrying about.

Now, I know you can’t write a whole blog in 10 minutes. Even I’m not that quick! But what you can do is plan a layout for the blog post. I’ll write bullet points about the subject I need to tackle for one 10 minute stint. Next time, I’ll tackle the introduction. Next, a few of those points. It might take me longer to get the post done, but it will get done.

What I tend to find is, once I’ve got the plan laid out and I’ve made a start on writing it, the words begin to flow anyway. Then before you know it, you’ve been writing for an hour and the post is done! If that doesn’t happen, that’s ok too. Keep working to the short time limits, gradually extending them as it feels natural to do.

As an aside, if you set yourself a 10-minute target each day, make sure you reward yourself each time you achieve it! A good old fashioned task and reward can sometimes be enough for me to find a little enthusiasm to write if you know what I mean! 😉 

The art of freewriting

I first learned about freewriting on one of my Creative Degree modules. As someone who has been writing for years, it was quite the revelation to me so I’m always going on about it with people now. 

The idea of freewriting is to open your mind and write without thinking about it.

So, what you should do is set yourself a time limit (again!). Pick a topic to start from and write everything that runs through your head for that period. 

I like to set an alarm. Sometimes I’ll do five minutes, other times I’ll let it go on for 15 minutes or more. Or I’ll aim to fill a page or two of words. The trick here is to realise that you don’t have to write expressly about the topic you’ve set yourself. That’s just your starting point. From that point on, write about anything and everything that pops into your head. The easiest way to do this is to think of it more as a stream of consciousness. I always suggest not taking your pen off the paper as you write.

You’re not writing something for publishing here.

The idea is purely to get your writing juices flowing. On days when I’m feeling a little tired and struggling to find the words, this task works well to get me going! 

As you write, don’t be tempted to edit.

Let the words and thoughts flow. You don’t even have to read it back afterwards if you don’t want to. I like to because I sometimes find some juicy little thoughts or ideas that I’ll immediately add to my ideas file. But yeah, if this writing never sees the light of day, that’s quite alright!

Don’t be embarrassed about your first draft

I often hear people say that they’re so embarrassed by what they’ve written. My answer is, why should you be? You don’t have to show that first draft to anyone!

I think it was Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird, who first introduced me to an interesting thought. She said writing was all about the editing process and the only way to get to that point is to have some words on the page. After all, you can’t edit a blank page, can you? 

I guarantee you, my first drafts rarely make it onto my blog in their entirety.

I’m experienced enough now that I don’t have to do a whole ton of editing. But I do still make plenty of changes before I hit that publish button. 

Ultimately, the purpose is to get the first draft down so you’ve got something to work on, ok? 

Have a dedicated space to write

This is the difference between you sitting staring at your screen or notebook for hours on end, or getting the words down to work on later.

I typically write at my desk, away from the TV (my biggest distraction!). Also being at my desk puts me in the frame of mind that I’m going to be working (i.e. writing!) so even getting to my desk in the morning can motivate me enough to get the writing process going. 

While we’re talking about distractions, I’m careful about what noises are going on near me while I’m writing, too. I won’t play podcasts while I’m trying to write, or music that I’ll end up singing my heart out too. I can cope with background noises but anything with words in is a total no-no! But you might find music helpful, I know lots of writers do. So, experiment with different things and figure out what works best for you.

Fill up the ideas bucket

For you to pump out the words and ideas, you need to have ideas coming in, to begin with.

I’m a big advocate for what Stephen King says about this. He says, in my all-time favourite book On Writing, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” He’s right, of course. You gotta fill the bucket up to get stuff out of it. 

Reading helps to build up your vocabulary, as well as inspiring different thoughts and ideas in your writing. But you don’t have to only fill up the ideas bucket with reading. I love watching documentaries and movies. And listening to podcasts when I’m not writing, of course! All these things help me to build up my ideas. 

Speaking of building your ideas list… don’t force it. But do keep something handy to log the ideas as and when they appear. Whether that’s a notebook and pen you carry around with you, an app on your phone or whatever you prefer to use. That way, when the ideas hit, you can get them down before they run away from you, just like Ruth Stone!

Write about something you’re passionate about

If you’re struggling to get words on a page, having to write about something you’re not enjoying won’t help matters. 

When I feel like that, I immediately put what I HAVE to write aside and reach for something that I WANT to tackle. 

There’s nothing that gets the writing juices flowing more than working on a post or subject that you’re interested in. Mostly because writing those kinds of posts comes easy and doesn’t involve any lengthy research. I’m certain you’re like me in that if you’re writing about something you enjoy then it hardly feels like work, does it? 

Bite-size chunks

I kinda mentioned this in the first point. But tackling your writing in small chunks can seem less daunting than coming face to face with a mammoth task. 

Bulletpoint a plan for your post.

Then work on one point at a time. You might work on a point then go for a break. Or even tackle one point a day until you get the whole thing written. Whatever works for you then that’s all good. 

You might think the idea of writing a tiny piece every day is ridiculous. But I’ve heard plenty of stories of writers writing an entire novel in chunks of 10 minutes a day. So it can be done!

Don’t overthink what you’re writing

One reason people struggle to write is because of the fear they have about what they’re writing is wrong. 

I’m often asked by people what they should write about.

And what if it’s the wrong topic? And what if they don’t quite get the voice right? And what if it’s not long enough? Or too long? Or they don’t get the right headline? Or keywords? Or, or, or… 

The longer you spend worrying about all these things, the less chance you’re going to get the damn thing written! 

So I always say… don’t overthink it. Just write it. And let me refer you back to the point I made earlier. It’s way easier to edit something you HAVE written than something you’re still overthinking months later. 

There you go, folks! Hopefully, some of those ideas will get you feeling a bit more enthusiastic about tackling your next blog post. But if these ideas don’t work, you can always outsource your blogging to someone like me! 

I’m more than happy to talk about my blog post subscriptions with you. Get in touch and let’s have a chat!