One common consensus among writers is that writing is less about talent and more about dedication. This statement reflects my own writing experiences. I tend to be the kind of writer that is easily distracted, minimizing my Microsoft Word document in favor of cruising the internet, playing one last game of Tetris, or checking my e-mail. By the end of a twelve hour library session, then, I often only have two or three pages actually written. I’ve met some writers who are very good at setting goals for themselves and sticking with a project until they get it done. These kinds of writers plan out how many pages they have to write each day in order to meet a deadline (whether self-imposed or not), and then they do that number of pages each day.
I assure you, these kinds of writers are real. I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing some of them in action. They are machines.
I, on the other hand, think of myself as someone who waits for inspiration. I justify the hours I waste on the internet and other pursuits as time I spend brainstorming. After all, I am thinking about the essay I have to write. And maybe this is a little bit true. I’m sure I do work through some concepts while I complete some online shopping at ThinkGeek. But ultimately, in the five hours I spend procrastinating and “brainstorming,” more dedicated writers are getting things done. They’re actually producing pages.
And this is ultimately one of the most difficult parts of writing–simply getting your ideas down on paper. So rather than waiting for divine inspiration, inspire yourself with a deadline. Give yourself two days to write your next 10 page paper, and write five pages each day. That isn’t to say that if you’re inspired you shouldn’t write more, but by setting yourself a minimum goal you’ll put yourself on track to finish. Part of the problem may be that people often consider writing less like work and more like a creative exercise. Sure, writing is creative and requires creative thinking. But creative thinking and inspiration don’t have to be these magical concepts that are sighted as often as a mythical unicorn. You can generate creative thinking and inspiration as surely as you can complete any other activity you set your mind to.
Sometimes, even when I’m not feeling inspired, if I can just make myself start typing the words, I find that they start coming faster and faster. There’s time later in the writing process to worry about polishing your work, but if you have a solid rough draft done then you can really make headway on your editing and revising. It’s difficult for others to help you edit or revise a paper that isn’t complete, so having a rough final product is better than a very polished introduction.
Are there any foolproof ways you’ve found for getting yourself motivated to write?