Ten Ways to Make Yourself Write (Even When You Aren't in the Mood)

Ten Ways to Make Yourself Write

Want to sit down and write? ME TOO! But you know what I do instead: the dishes. Or check my Instagram. Or look up that one planner I've been meaning to get. Or almost anything other than write.

You too?

I know from conversations with many of you that I am not alone in this struggle, so I thought for this post I'd give you some of the ideas I've been collecting over the years.

Here are ten ways to make yourself write when you don't feel like it.

1. Don't overthink it. Take action and move your body toward what you want to do. Don't get caught up in wondering if you should write, and wondering why writing is so hard--just go get the notebook, the pen, sit, and put words on the page.

2. Change your idea of what writing looks like. In order to put words on paper you need to think, gather inspiration, observe, read, and learn about writing. All of this can count toward "writing" for the day.

3. Write less but do it more frequently. While sitting and writing for five hours on a Saturday sounds great, it's hard to keep up that kind of momentum. Instead, write something small like 15 minutes or one page every day. The consistency will help form a habit, the low expectations will help you actually do it every day.

4. Don't set out to write the great American novel. Set out to write--period. Keep your expectations low. Tell yourself, "I don't have to write well, I just need to write."

5. Submit your work (because having other people respond to your work is really inspiring).

6. Complete small writing projects. It's motivating to finish something and if you gather lots of small completed projects in your portfolio, your confidence will grow, which will keep you coming back to write more.

7. Write for quantity over quality. I know this all sounds counter intuitive, but for some reason we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as writers to do it well right out of the gate. The truth is rough drafts are always rough, but not always finished. Get the rough draft finished. Worry about the quality later (that's what editing is for).

8. Combine writing time with something else you love: time with a friend, a glass of wine, a hike, a trip to the coffee shop, chocolate.

9. Figure out what strange expectations you have of yourself and your writing and then defy those expectations. If you think you have to write sitting still, write on a walk; if you think you have to write well, write the worst stuff you can think of; if you think you have to write for one hour, write for one minute. The point is to prove to yourself that you don't need to make your writing (or your writing practice) looks a certain way. You get to make it work for you.

10. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, write for yourself. Write what you want to write for you alone. If you don't--if you are always writing for an audience--you will never find consistent joy in your writing practice.

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Ashly HilstComment