Blogger: Rachel Kent
What motivates you to keep writing? We are all faced with the ups and downs that come on the roller coaster of publishing, but when we get discouraged it can be tempting to just give up. Here are some questions to think about as you ponder how to stay motivated. Knowing your answers to these questions will help you to know what to do when you feel the seeds of discouragement sprouting or a lack of motivation to keep up with your writing.
Who motivates you to write? Is there a person in your life whom you are writing for, or is there someone who knows what encouraging thing to say? If so, when you start to fall off the writing track, think about that person or give your encouraging buddy a call.
When do you feel most motivated to write? Do you write best in the morning, midday, or at night? Find the best time for you and stick with it! Create a writing schedule for yourself and be intentional about reserving that time for writing.
Why do you write? (What motivates you?) Think about your goals for writing. Focus on them, and when you feel discouraged, think again about what you would like to accomplish with your writing. It’s a good idea to write down your goals and keep them near your writing space. Many Christian authors are writing to make a difference in their readers’ lives or to share the Gospel message. Remembering your goals can help you on days when it feels like your writing time isn’t worth it.
Where do you write best? Where is your writing space? Some authors write best from home while others are too distracted at home and must write at the library or a coffee shop. If you find yourself unproductive, try something new. Avoid the Internet while you write; consider disconnecting your router during your scheduled writing time and turn off your cell phone.
If you feel comfortable sharing some of your answers, please do!
I interview missionaries … their stories and sharing what God is doing here in the U.S. and abroad is a great motivator. I am grateful for each year of new assignments. Each missionary touches my heart in a new way and leaves me permanently changed.
As far as my works, books … seeking God, I believe that He gives me the ideas, and I hope to glorify Him in all I do. The hope that my projects encourage others is a great motivator.
And I don’t like leaving projects unfinished. That’s a heavy burden for me – the motivator. I love completion.
I write best anytime I’m given time alone, regardless of the time of day. 🙂
And another motivator … I really enjoy writing! 🙂
I love writing too, Shelli. The irony is that, because I love it, I think I should do the stuff that I don’t love first and get it out of the way (the broccoli-before-dessert philosophy). But if I do that, then when I finally get around to the writing, I’m mentally depleted. So I’ve been trying to put my writing first, before other tasks, which feels like eating dessert ahead of broccoli and somehow bending the “rules.” (Whose “rules,” I’m not sure…)
Yeah, Jenny … “whose” rules. I so get that. We feel like we have to fit this perfect mold, don’t we? To be a good momma, good wife, good housekeeper … we have to do all these things first. It’s tough. Tough balance. It’s sort of like “who” says we can’t wear white sandals in September? I don’t … ha! But I don’t like to be told not to. 🙂 And by “whom”?
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
As a short termer, 4 times to Bolivia and 1 to the Brazilian Amazon, I LOVE LOVE LOVE missionary stories!!!
Remind me to tell you about the tsunami, the island of Banda Aceh and the Christians there.
I want to hear, Jennifer! 🙂
I hit that wall of discouragement every day.
Two things keep me going. The first is the encouragement of people I’ll probably never meet, the people from this community who have offered words of encouragement and kindness.
I have an obligation to pay it forward, and give encouragement to others.
The second is that I feel that what I write, when it’s positive and God-centered, adds to the storehouse of good energy in the world. The book I’m trying to shop,”Emerald Isle”, has been read by a few Beta readers and a potential agent; that may be the limit of its exposure.
But perhaps it’s enough, because writing the book changed me, and changed – for the better,, I hope – the way I interact with others. My positive voice became stronger, and more confident, from having written a story of hope.
It’s not New Age-y “butterfly effect” nonsense. The energy from a butterfly’s flapping wings in the Amazon will soon be dissipated into the noise of atmospheric Brownian motion, and will never overwhelm the “tipping Point” and cause a typhoon that levels Hong Kong.
The words, and the Christian intention, maintain their strength undiminished, and when passed on to another, have the potential to be passed along undiminished, and might even be amplified.
Writing and being part of a writing community is taking part in life. It’s living the “wherever two or more of you are gathered in My name”.
There is no higher aspiration.
Andrew, you have been a definite encouragement to me. When my chin falls, your words continually lift me up.
Who – God (He doesn’t just motivate me; more like stalks me if I don’t write).
When – early morning or after supper (that day job and its commute leave few options); an occasional retreat day.
Why – Intimacy with God–what it feels like and how to get there.
Where – usually at home, but I am blessed with a quiet neighborhood, a light-filled house and kids all grown up and on their own. I need an internet connection for access to Scripture (what did I do before biblegateway and biblehub? Oh yeah, we do own the Bible in book form).
Today’s comments will be interesting, Rachel. God never runs out of personalities and work styles to accomplish his purposes.
Shirlee, I love biblegateway and … thefreedictionary! 🙂
This is going to sound seriously conceited, but my motivation to write really comes from myself. It’s deep within. I can’t stop. It eats at me and demands I keep going. 🙂
I feel most motivated to write between 8AM and Noon. It’s also when I’m most creative. Unfortunately, I have a day job 🙂 and on weekends I have two munchkins, so those hours cannot be kept sacred or entertained. So I substitute with the hours of 5:30-7:30am or 8:30-11:00 pm and pray my brain is awake enough 🙂
Jaime, you and I have the same motivation and prime writing time, though I usually don’t make to the actual writing until 9am. And I write in the afternoons too, most days. But I write because it brings me joy and satisfaction. If that’s selfish, then I’m in that boat with you. I also write because it brings me closer to the Lord. The longer I do this (especially since publication) the more clearly I see my dependency on Him to continually take my writing to a new level, or to tackle a subject matter or a story that will stretch me in some way. I love that aspect of writing. Just like with my cancer journey, which brought me peace and intimacy with God, the hard stuff about this writing journey brings me closer to Him.
PS: and that also brings me joy and satisfaction. What selfish creatures we are! 😉
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
I think you’re spot on with “It’s deep within. I can’t stop. It eats at me and demands I keep going.”
I can’t NOT write.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Like Jaime Wright, I write because I am captive by it, held fast by an invisble thread.
I cannot believe I went so long in my life not writing. Other than raising my family, the past 3 years growing into the role of writer been the most fulfilling of my entire life.
Maybe all those years before you put metaphorical pen to paper were your apprenticeship to the Master?
I wanted to write for twenty years after studying creative writing in college, but could not do it. Nothing worked.
Then, at the end of 2007, all the lessons were finally learned, and I was able to write BPH in two academic vacation sessions. And I’m still proud of that book…it may be the best thing I ever created, but it took all those years to come to pass, and they were necessary.
I’ve always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I stayed at home with the kids that I managed to do anything more than dabble in it.
The feedback from my writing group definitely keeps me going, even when I feel discouraged.
My home office is the best place for me to write. That’s when I am in business mode instead of being distracted by a million other things…I claim as I rush off to check Facebook. 🙂
Hope you have a blessed weekend.
One question that I wonder if anyone else is asking themselves…I want to write, and to be a writer, but is that what God wants for me?
If I were to have spent my time playing basketball when I was younger, with a specific intention of becoming a professional, it would have been obvious that my desires and the resources that God gave me didn’t match. I might have been able to hit the hoop from anywhere, but at 5’10”, I wasn’t going anywhere.
It’s not that clear-cut in writing; I can write a coherent book-length story, but I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t an animating ‘snap’ that’s missing…and perhaps God is gently hinting that my fulfillment doesn’t lie on this path.
It’s not discouragement. Left to myself, I won’t quit. But I do wonder if I’m being told by a Higher Authority…let it go.
Does anyone else feel this way?
Andrew, only you know how God is directing. But I haven’t submitted my WIP to a single agent … I’m still editing … yet, I still wonder where God is leading me. I know I’ll be writing … but not sure the direction. Do I have what it takes for novel work? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just an article girl. And if I had known B&S didn’t work with middle grade … I might have chosen a different path! 🙂 But there I go acting like it’s “my” path. And the funny thing … it was this little work that led me to the encouragement of B&S … to the encouragement of you and so many others on here. God placed this little idea in my heart for a reason … maybe just to get me started … to learn. But maybe just maybe I’ll get it edited enough that it might be worthy and maybe minister to some child with cancer.
A lot of “maybe.”
It’s a tough path when doors don’t fling open. Remember Max Lucado … declined over seventeen + times.
I guess what I’m wondering is whether I can make more of a difference in writing my blog and in trying to encourage others, rather than pursuing my own dreams of being a novelist.
Are the dreams taking time away from what I’m supposed to be doing?It is a possibility.
And so hard to tell, without shading with one’s own emotion-of-the-moment!
My gut feeling is to carry on, and follow the path I’ve set. But that in the awareness that it may be the wrong path.
Andrew, I’ll be praying. We all need prayer. It’s tough.
I ask myself the same about being a mother, homemaker, teacher … I know writing takes time away from it all. I try to balance as best I can, but I know I fail.
If I was agented, I could justify it all. But …
Shelli, from where I sit…you justify it all already, by being here, by lifting everyone’s spirits.
When I am feeling far from God, I will go back to your blog. You lasso Him, and bring Him down where I can catch His sleeve.
And, ok, use it to sometimes wipe tears from my eyes.
Thank you, Andrew.
Rachel Leigh Smith
Andrew, I went through something similar back in the spring. I was so dead-set on doing this writing thing my way–agent, traditional contract, the works–that I failed to see God’s leading on what I’m supposed to do with this fictional world that won’t leave me alone.
When I sat myself down and actually talked to Him about it, it was clear. Put the traditional dreams aside and do it yourself. So I am. And you know what? It’s been one of the most amazing summers of my life. God has put every single person I need to help me do this, into my path, and led me to exactly what I need without breaking my checking account.
I gave this book and this world back to Him not long after I started writing it. He has plans for it. I don’t know what they are, but someone out there, in my mind, clearly needs to read it. And it’s my prayer that those who read it find healing in God’s arms, just like I did as I wrote it.
Have a long talk with God, and make sure you’re on the same page with Him. Once you’re on the same page again you’ll know what to do. It took me 12 hours, once I started listening, but I know that doesn’t happen with everyone.
I love your story. Thanks.
God gave me a fictional world, too, that’s impinged on the real world in ways I would never have thought possible.
I would have thought that I would have total influence over my characters, but it seems that it’s the other way around. They grow according to God’s will, not mine, and force me to see the world through different eyes.
And to see myself through different eyes, which is the hardest of all.
But it’s easy to convince oneself of the rectitude of one’s path, and so, after writing the paragraphs above, I asked God for an unmistakable and corporeal sign.
And got one. Specifically the sign I asked for, and not something I could have subconsciously orchestrated.
So, slide over, F. Scott…gimme some space, J.K., ’cause it looks like I’m here to stay.
You bring up an excellent point, Andrew. How can we be sure our desires match what God’s plans are for our lives? I’m sort of in this place right now where I feel I’m being called to reduce the amount of time I spend writing to focus on a ministry for tween and teen girls. This has been on my heart for a while and I feel very led to move in that direction; not because I’m discouraged in my writing–the feedback on my WIP is so encouraging, I need to restrain myself from spending all my waking hours on it–but because it appears God wants me to focus on getting this ministry up and running. Things are coming together to make way for that ministry. I fear I can’t ignore them, but still feel the need to pray on it more.
I’ll pray that you are shown stronger direction so that you’ll be able to discern which path to take.
It’s a hard question, when so many good things can be competing for attention, and particularly when we’ve assumed a commitment of service to others.
On the assumption that God will speak to me in a way I can understand (words of one syllable, interspersed with “Dude!”), I stepped outside a few minutes ago, closed my eyes, and said, “God, if you want me to keep the dream of being a fiction writer alive, you’ve got to show me a sign. Something red.”
I opened my eyes, turned the corner, and within ten paces stepped on a piece of red cloth. It was not visible from where I made the request (I checked), and had not been there when I passed that way earlier today.
They say that God looks after children and dumb animals. I’m not a child, so…
Rachel Leigh Smith
I’m one of those who can’t not write. It burns in me, and when I’m not writing, or I have to miss a few days of my routine, I’m miserable.
I write for myself mostly, and of course for God. He gave me these words and it’s my job as his child to use them. I may not write Christian fiction, but his truths are hidden in my work for those with eyes open to see.
My space is my desk in my bedroom. On Wednesdays between work and church I write at the library for an hour, but that’s the only time I consistently write away from home. Every now and then I’ll take the laptop out on the breezeway with me when the family is gathered out there.
I write best in the afternoons and evenings, so that’s when I try to do it. I always stop by 8, though, or I have more trouble than usual getting to sleep because my brain won’t shut down. I try for 1,000 words a day, and usually end up with about 1500 or so. I’m capable of writing a 100,000 word novel every six months. That word count is my comfort zone.
I am motivated to write because I have found that in my crazy, unpredictable life, writing keeps me grounded. Sometimes I feel that I’m losing my grip on my sanity and I know it’s because I haven’t written in awhile.
When and where are problematic for me and I have to be very intentional about getting time to write because I can’t write when my kids are awake and home. They demand my time and attention and that’s just fine, I’m happy to be their mom, but I can’t actively do the mommy thing and write at the same time! I also get distracted when I’m at home. I can write at home in my spot on my couch, but I don’t really like to. I prefer to go to my local Starbucks and write there. Plus, the people are so interesting.
Creating a writing schedule and sticking to it is a GREAT idea. I’m going to do that now!
It’s funny how things change. I used to write in my study when my children were still at home, but once I became an “empty nester” I moved to the living room. The study seems too isolated now to work in…
. . . I’ve got a story to tell so I put pen to paper every day. Never missed a day since I started writing fiction – seven wonderful years ago.
every soul cries “write” the mind?
Mind the mind.
I write best in the afternoon. The perfect day would look like this for me: wake up, exercise and errands, breakfast, nap, coffee, 10 minutes of social media playing, then writing, taking a break to eat lunch food, then back to writing until hubby gets home from work.
I have three places I like to write. The very best place to write is on my porch. I love the quiet and the view of my garden. Second is in my writing room. It’s a lot like my little corner of my old classrooms. I occasionally write in the living room, but I usually and critiquing or editing if I’m in there.
We’ve had so much stuff going on this summer that I didn’t do a lot of new writing, but was a great critique partner. Doing the critiquing kept me thronging about writing. So when things settle down in the next month or two I think I will be pretty productive.
Viewing sunrises relaxes my mind and releases any tension that could create writers block. My best work has been at dawn…