Ah, how to start…
You know that feeling? The churn in your stomach as you stare at the blank page – when the words are inconveniently not writing themselves.
Or perhaps you’re thinking about the book you want to publish – but it’s inconsiderately not creating itself.
Or, there’s the smallest task you know would take five minutes – but it feels like a looming mountain to climb.
Will it ever happen? Is it just a dream in the distant future?
That depends on your mindset.
Back in April, I’d been planning my book for six months, but hadn’t written a word of it (besides some scribbled notes). I think I needed that time to collate my ideas – but I’d have to draft at some point, otherwise it would remain an untold story gathering dust in my imagination. So what was the ground-breaking thing I did?
I wrote… a sentence! Then I looked at it, realised I had no clue what to do next, and stuffed it into a drawer. Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps I hoped that a little house-brownie would cast a spell, and I’d open the drawer to find a fully-formed book where the paper had been. Or maybe I was simply struggling to find motivation.
When I say motivation, I mean the surge of energy you get that compels you to spring into action.
At least for me, it moves in waves – one week, I’m energised to wake up early every day and write, while the next I struggle to even open my laptop. Whether we feel motivated on any given day depends on so many things: mood, sleep, the day’s circumstances, etc.
If you’ve felt this too, know that you’re not alone. Every writer endures it, again and again. Like I said: waves. But that’s okay; it’s part of the creative process, and what counts is how we work through it. There’s no ‘quick fix’, no single solution that will work for everyone. However, there are methods that help me draw motivation even in the troughs of those waves, which has helped shift my mindset (for the most part).
Case in point: cut to September, and I now have a draft of 50,000 words (and counting), and I love writing this story. So, what changed? HOW did I get here? Where did I find the motivation to progress past that single line? Honestly, looking back… it feels like a magic spell was cast by a house-brownie after all. But in truth, it was built from many small moments of effort (and I still have more ahead of me!)
A quote from my draft sums up this point:
“Every story is made of little pieces that slot together into a whole. Find the pieces; find the story… Even the smallest idea can lead to the greatest tale.”
The same is true of motivation. It’s not always this big thing that shows up for us to claim – it’s in the quiet actions we do day-to-day. Ever heard that motivation comes from doing things, not the other way around? It’s true! But how do we kick-start that cycle? Well, it starts in the same place your stories begin… your imagination.
Remember the mindset thing? Here’s how we shift it.
Summary of the Steps
I like to think of motivation as coming from two places: internal sources and external sources.
Internal sources are within you. They’re the most difficult to change, but they’re also the most powerful. Think of them as the groundwork upon which your motivation-boosting actions are built: