Writing Inspiration/Motivation

I've been thinking about this quite a bit, and I'm not sure how it is for many of you out there, but for me, writing really seems to come in stages. I can write most of the time, but the inspiration to type out a whole chapter of a story in one sitting happens far more sparingly.


Which brings me back to my question. Is there something that helps motivate or inspire these writing sessions for you?


Mine consist of several things. My mood/health (the worse it is, the more I seem to write), listening to a specific music artist (VNV Nation) or driving. I drive a lot for school, so plenty of time for thinking.


So what about everyone else? What works for you?


Nothing really gets me revved to write like reading a fantastic story, especially in the same general genre.


I never itch to write more than when I can't or shouldn't. Like, say, if I happen to have a 20 page paper due in 2 days and I'm 5 pages in. What I -really- want to be writing, right then, is a short story or whatever. Often I'll go do that, then return to the thing I gotta do, and just use the momentum and put words to page.


I also get ridiculous amounts of writing done if I'm chilling at my family's cottage (no electricity, yes plumbing) with a good pen & some notebooks. Also on car trips, though my writing is often so bad when I'm being bumped & jostled by the movement of the car that I'm remembering what I wrote more than I'm reading it.


If I'm home, though, I find it's mostly to do with my mood. Get my usual daily web browsing and household stuff out of the way, crank up some music (something like Yuki Kajiura, Era or Sigur Ros, depending on the atmosphere of the chapter), then either sit in front of the computer or lie on bed with a laptop & puppy resting her head on my shoulder, and get 'er done.


I've recently turned my methods upside down, because they weren't working for beans. What I do now is set aside a space just for reading and writing. In that space, I do one or the other, and nothing else -- no TV, no games, no internet. Big headphones and loud music drown out distractions. When one activity doesn't come easy, I switch to the other.


It's been working well for me so far!


Wildbow:

Reading is definitely something that can inspire me too. Unfortunately I don't have the time like I used too to read. Maybe one day though. :) I wrote a lot while working too (probably not the best idea...). During naptime at the daycare was an opportune time to get some writing done.


Ryan:

That's great that you've managed to switch things around for your benefit. I might need to try something like that some time when I really need to get some writing done. Good luck with it!


One of the biggest inspirations, gotta say, is good feedback.


I don't think I've ever written as much as I have in the wake of 5-star reviews, or after getting some excited comments from a reader that's really enjoying my story. That's not so much something you can control, though. It's just a great ego boost and push in the right direction that comes at random times.


I would agree with you 100% Wildbow. Hearing that people are enjoying what you spend so much time doing and enjoy yourself makes everything so much better. I am the same way. I write like a fiend after comments like that. I wish they were more frequent, but I will be happy with what I get.


I agree with Ryan. A set time, every morning. Same music if you are stuck, and start typing. I always read back through the last chapter to begin, but if nothing comes straight out - I will type anything.


I begin to explain a character or a situation to a fictional reader, or I type out why I think there is a dead spot and what I want to do about it. It seems that beginning to type anything about the story triggers the right mindset to keep writing. Works for me, anyway.


Lxx


And to add another point, I think the important thing is not just getting in the mood to write and starting the writing process, but also ensuring that your writing is comfortable and painless. If you get frustrated or annoyed, or if it's not coming together, your motivation can dry up, and that block of time you set aside can wind up being totally unproductive.


For me, for a long time, I worked really hard on getting stuff to sound right. Get that sentence perfect, get that idea conveyed the way I have it set up in my head. Problem is, I got so worked up trying to get the grammar and the structure and the tone perfect that I got frustrated, and very often I'd wind up putting a story away before I'd actually told it. Then I'd rarely if ever pick up the motivation to go back to it. I did this for *years*. I have no less than a hundred unfinished story ideas sitting in folders on my various computers, some scrapped after half a page.


What's really worked for me is simply getting the ideas on the screen. Sitting down, writing, not stressing about errors, not letting myself spend more than 3 seconds figuring out how to word a sentence. What I've found is that by getting into the flow of it, relaxing and letting the story happen, the writing naturally improves as I work. Anything that doesn't come out right, I can fix later, after I've finished and taken a break to do something else. It's often easier and lower stress to fix that sentence or figure out the right word, after, because I've already got the chapter out there, maybe some ideas have come to mind while I've written it, and I'm less frustrated because the time I'm spending editing or revising isn't time I'm taking away from the actual writing.


This is actually part of why I started doing a web serial, because it keeps me moving forward and keeps my focus on continuing the story, rather than continually revising it until I'm sick of it. (This has the unfortunate side effect/self imposed restriction where I won't let myself go back and start editing the first 10 or so chapters of Worm, even though I think my language has improved over the half year I've been writing it, and some wording & stuff really bugs me whenever I go back & reread it.)


I absolutely agree, Wildbow. Leave the editing for the editing phase! When you're writing, you've just got to write.


Momentum is huge.


Amen. I get real precise with sentence structure and wording sometimes, and it really does destroy the motivation and desire to write. I've gotten a lot better about it, and like you said Wildbow, writing a web serial really helps because you want to keep putting up the next part. I find that after I've finished an entire chapter, I will go back through and edit, sometimes the whole chapter or just parts at a time as I'm updating them.


Me, I often find that playing around, editing and rearranging helps me get started. And I will always keep editing as I write. 'Cause I've just got to be different. :P


I think my major inspiration is my twice weekly deadline. Knowing that something has to be done helps.


I do always give my stories and chapters at least one editing pass before I release them to the world, but I try to put some separation between my writing time and my editing time, for the sake of productivity and perspective.