Want to Write a Novel but Can’t Stay Motivated? Here are Some Tips

I am not going to sugar-coat it; that first novel can kick your tail. But it doesn’t have to be so incredibly daunting that the great idea for a novel that you dreamed up one foggy afternoon six years ago, can’t be brought to fruition. The idea is there. Perhaps the characters have been mingling, getting to know each other, playing out various ways of interacting…but it’s all between your ears. So how do you get them out of your head and into print? Don’t they at least deserve that? Here is some practical, useful advice to get that overwhelming rough draft completed.

TIP ONE

Determine as best you can which genre your novel will be, and research how many words that genre typically would be. This seems obvious, but there are several sub-genres or your novel could fall within that gray area of “is this literary or mainstream fiction?” You will want to do this because A. It will affect the language you use, your target audience, how much description or what “atmosphere” you choose to develop while writing your novel. And B. It will give you an idea of how long your novel would optimally be. Knowing the length of the novel gives you keener sense of what pace to take your writing, when to add in crucial elements to your plot, and where the arc of your story should be. It is easier to break your novel into sections of words than starting and adding to the pile with each word you type. Make a timeline of word counts and plot the main parts of your novel…this is an excellent visual of knowing where you are going. Having a plan you can change is better than no plan at all!

Remember…you can do this, just let “one foot in front of the other” aka “one word at a time” apply to your attitude and mental approach, not to your overall plan to completion. A race is won, yes by this method…but what if you don’t have a route?

TIP TWO

Choose a program and/or method. Some love Word, some write on napkins, but consider the way you write and your personality. I like a structured program so I go with Scrivener and could NOT write my novel without it. Research a few different options and see what will work best for you. Take time to learn the program, get the “For Dummies,” or like up some favorites of resources on your browser. Just have the tools you need at the ready. This will eliminate a huge roadblock that many first time novelists trip so hard over they can’t hear their characters for the stars in their eyes. Don’t be distracted by formatting and structure so much that you aren’t able to write.

TIP THREE

Your first draft is a “just get it written” draft. So DO NOT overthink so much that you take the comma out, put the comma back, take it out again. This draft is about getting the content out of your head and onto the screen. You will do several reads-through and edits. Don’t get too tied up in correcting plot holes or spelling or fleshing out your characters perfectly because you will be doing this as you go through your edit(s.) Your goal is plot and making sure the webbing of the book is in place. That structure is crucial to having a novel that can stand up on it’s own.

TIP FOUR

Set a REALISTIC writing goal for yourself.

Do not pay a single bit of attention to the writing goals of others…set a goal for yourself that is fairly easily attainable. Writing every day is best, especially if you have trouble staying motivated. if motivation is no problem for you, but the obsessive spirit in you makes you write for six hours straight at a time with complete disregard to your hygiene and important responsibilities, then perhaps your writing goal is a reminder to pace yourself, avoid burnout, and avoid the terrible neck aches or eye strain that accompany your all-nighters. You know yourself and what you need to stay motivated. Make a plan to stick to, but make your goals reachable.

TIP FIVE

Prepare the troops. You are going to need supportive people around you to keep you motivated, but also to pick up the slack in other areas of your life so that you can stay focused on your writing. If you have planned to write certain hours of the day, you will need to be able to thwart potential distractions such as Facebook messages or texts and phone calls. Is your mom your best cheerleader? Then talk to her about your plans and use her support as a way to keep motivated. You need to isolate yourself to a certain degree to finish your work and to do this you will need people to be understanding. Have a small team of people you can count on to help you through. These people are not to be confused with beta readers. These folks are your support staff, your cheerleaders, your emotional supporters. They are also not your therapists, but the people that help out with the laundry to give you more time to work. The people that fix you a coffee or who respect your need to hole-up for a few hours a day, undisturbed. Perhaps they are the ones who are willing to kick in more financial support if you are working fewer hours outside of the home. Prepare your troops because the battle is a fierce emotional one and you may need back up on the homefront to make it to the victorious first draft finish line. Let your support people know what your commitments are so they can honor those. In my home it is a s simple as “I’m working.” My family has been very supportive and helpful when they hear me say those powerful words.

TIP SIX

Let go of some things that are distractions. Turn off Netflix. Put your phone on silent while you work. Opt for simpler dinners or smaller goals in other areas of your life so that you have the time you need to work. Facebook and Twitter can wait on a social level while you disengage, unless, of course, you are researching for your novel. Find a place that you can work that helps you to stay focused and puts you in the best headspace for energy flow and creativity.

TIP SEVEN

Simply put — you can do this. Confidence is key. Novel-writing is not your therapist. While you put your heart into your writing, your writing is not your therapy. It does not define you as a person, although it is an extension of you. You exist independently, confidently, wholly as an individual with or without this novel being finished. It is a personal goal. A journey you take. Not a way to work out your internal struggles. Use therapy if you need to do that and let your novel be the story of your characters. You are their catalyst, not the other way around.

JUST DO IT.

CAN DO IT.

WILL DO IT.

Put your goals into writing. Write yourself sticky notes of daily goals or motivations. Map out your plan, share it with your cheerleaders, and get to work. The finish line awaits. If you have other tips to share with regards to fleshing out that first draft, I invite you to share them here with others that may need them. I wish you the best on your journey!

7 Things to ADD to Your Spring Cleaning To-Do List Now!!

It’s “Spring Cleaning” time! We make our lists, gather our buckets and micro-fiber cloths, our Swiffers and our brand-new mops, and we go at it. Washboards, windows, that crusty stuff on the stove hood, that icky black corner behind the toilet, the hair pulled from the drains. We go at it with ferocity and yank open our windows so the place smells like Spring. The birds sing. The music dances all around us. We feel accomplished, fresh, and ready set a fresh bouquet of flowers on every table top.

Spring cleaning is a wonderful way to freshen up our living spaces and renew our sense of comfort in our home, but there are a few things that may not have made your list. Here are some things you may not have jotted down on your Spring Cleaning TO-DO list, that should totally have made the cut:

  1.  Give your home a “clean” check. Swap out some of those cleaners with green cleaning solutions such as white vinegar for those pesky smells (Just put some white vinegar mixed with water into a spray bottle and spray away!) White vinegar mixed with baking soda is also excellent for scrubbing. Safe and non-toxic, safe for the pooches, and once the vinegar smell evaporates (quickly) it takes stinky smells with it…better for the environment and better for the health every living thing in your home. What feels better than clean? GREEN glean 😊 And, while you’re at it…unplug everything in your home that you are not using. Save some money while you’re checking off your list.
  • Clean up your online face! What do I mean by this? Just take a cruise through your social media accounts and remove anything that may be, let’s just say “unclean” or “unpresentable.” What you project out into the world matters. If you are unkind to people or posting drama-related junk, just remove that mess. The world does NOT need any more toxicity and unkindness in it. Cleaning up your online presence also helps you to attract less junk into your life. Have people on your friends lists that are always bringing negativity? Bye. Bye. Life is too short to spend parts of your day wasted with that nonsense. Present yourself respectably and get respect. Show the young men and women in your life how it’s done. Had an argument for the world to see? Delete it, drop it, be done with it, and move on. Clean it up and enjoy less drama in the days ahead. Who knows, you may find you like this cleaner-online-you!
  • Clean up your language. Take some time to think about what you say, before you say it, and practice uplifting others, genuinely. You’d be surprised what a change in your life this can be. It is so easy to get stuck in a pitfall of complaining. Try a different approach. See where positivity can get you in your relationships and with your attitude. It will make the days have more spring than drag.
  • Have you cleaned out your car lately? Add that to the list. And don’t forget to refill the window washer fluid to help with all those pooping spring birds that are filling the air. It’s hard to enjoy your beautiful spring day when you can’t see past the bird poop in the shape of Louisiana that’s parked right in your line of sight. Enjoy the birds but get rid of that poop.
  • Clean out your pets’ homes.  Don’t forget your furry and feathered loved ones with the stinky kennels. Get them some fresh bedding and swap out their crusty toys for new ones. They will surely thank you with peeps, and songs, and thankful tail-wagging.
  • Clean out your phone! Get rid of unused apps. Go through the 4000 pictures and get rid of the ones you don’t need anymore. Delete all those unneeded texts and emails. Swap out your ring tones for new ones and feel like you are starting afresh. Delete old contacts! You know you are never going to call that guy you sold something to on Craigslist like 3 years ago! Delete. Clean it up and bask in the glow of cellular clarity.
  • Hit the “refresh” button on your soul by spending a little time outdoors. Leave the phone. The Tablet. The laptop. Grab a bottle of water and something to sit on and park yourself in a quiet place with nothing but the trees, or the field, or creek and the moss, and just BE. Listen to the sounds of Spring. Watch a bug going on about its expeditions. Just spend a little time away from the electronics and let the beauty of the natural world soothe your soul.  Nature is a healing and restorative thing that we often neglect to immerse ourselves in…I invite you to spend a little time soaking up the warmth of the Spring sun and feeling the Spring breezes on your face. You will feel rejuvenated and renewed.

Do YOU have any Spring renewal plans for your life? When the mop bucket dries and the windows close will you feel like your spirit has also had a cleansing? Spring is a lovely time of the year to hit the reset button and start something new.

Christina Ward
writer, poet, blogger
http:// https://fiddleheadsnfloss.com/
https://fiddleheadsnfloss.com/2019/03/08/evolution/
https://fiddleheadsnfloss.com/2019/02/18/coming-home/

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