Category Archives: motivation

Rituals – Get ready for writing

What makes you feel ready to start writing? Do you just need to sit down and write? Do you need to do something first? Do you need a special place? Do you need to be in a certain way?

Rituals have been part of human history since we know. They consist of a series of actions practiced in a certain way and following a strict order. You perform them before a determinate situation. They are essential to get you in the ideal mindset to do a specific task, and many writers use them.

What’s the purpose?

As I said before, rituals put you in the right mindset to perform a particular task. Concerning writing, it is important to find some inspiration and focus when it is time to start writing.

Having a good writing ritual will help you tremendously. With time, the simple act of performing that ritual will put you on “writing-mode” right away. You’ll be ready to focus on your stories.

The most common writing rituals

There are dozens, even hundreds of possibilities concerning rituals. You can already have one, or you might want to look for the one that has more meaning to you. I don’t think that rituals from other people are ideal. You should find your own way, but here you have some suggestions of the most common rituals to inspire you.

In my case, I don’t follow anything that strange. I need silence, so I sit in a quiet place, preferably at my desk. I first read the emails and see everything I want to see on socials and other places. Then, I start writing. Why? Because when I start writing, I don’t want to be concerned about what I am missing or what I should be doing instead.

Other examples are to take a walk first, to look at a window, to sit towards a specific place, or drink a specific beverage. Anything that you always do immediately before writing can be considered a ritual.

Sometimes you don’t even notice, and you have one. It is so automatic in you that you may not realize it is a ritual. Like drinking tea before you sit down to write. If you do it every day, it is a ritual even if you don’t have in mind that you do it to write. It helps because you teach your body that it needs to be ready to work after that beverage.

Do you have a ritual?

Rituals are not strictly necessary. Yet, they are very helpful in putting you in the right mindset to do your writing. They work as a coffee that makes you focus. For example, reading a particular passage of a book, listening to a piece of certain music, or looking out of a window for a couple of minutes can be all you need to enter the full “writing mode”.

Do you have any rituals? If so, I’d like to hear everything about it.

Why can’t I finish my novel?

You just had a good idea for a plot, and you start writing your story. Yet, at some point… it seems to reach a dead end. Perhaps, you’re not as passionate about it as you were before.

Why does that happen? Wasn’t your idea good enough? What are you missing?

I’m stuck

It often has nothing to do with the story. You still are passionate about it, but procrastination wins you. You’ll continue tomorrow. You find a lot of things to do, a lot of excuses. When you go back, if you ever do, those lines don’t make much sense anymore.

Despite its importance and how it impacts your writing, it is not about procrastination that we’ll talk about in this post. Instead, it is about to get stuck. Sometimes a tiny mistake prevents us from continuing. A page, a line, or even a word that doesn’t feel right…

This may happen because you didn’t plan the novel or, instead, you planned too much and killed that flame inside you. As a result, you miss the passion and intensity of discovering your own story as you’re writing. So, maybe, your issue is to know which one works better for you. It is time to find out.

Two main issues

There are usually two situations responsible for this feeling of getting stuck. They are the usual suspects when you can’t finish your story.

Revision

Revising your text is hell sometimes. It will never be exciting, but you don’t need to make it harder than it should be. It is not supposed to destroy your story. If you’re feeling that, then stop what you’re doing! Something is wrong.

It can be the story, of course, it may have flaws, but probably you’re just being too much! Stop, take a deep breath, and start over. Then, perhaps, ask someone to read it and give an opinion. A fellow writer would be a good choice.

Now, to make sure that you’re doing it right, ask yourself: is the story getting better? Yes? Great! Then, the whole revision process, as tiring as it is, will, in the end, fulfill you with a sense of accomplishment.

One last piece of advice on this: don’t try to revise before finishing the story. That’s usually a bad idea. However, if you really feel the need to do it, then follow this simple rule: if it is to improve a point in the story, then do it. On the other hand, if it is only in your way, keeping you from writing the rest of the story, stop yourself and keep writing.

Planning

Some authors plan their stories as they go, while others are careful planners. The last ones take a long time to decide on every detail before they start writing. Both methods are correct, but you can’t use both. At least, not at the same time.

You need to know what kind of writer you are. If you’re a planner, you’ll get stuck with no plan. If you’re not, planning will be boring, and you’ll feel like losing time. Eventually, you’ll lose all interest in your story.

There is no right and wrong; it is a matter of preference. Find out how you work better. Try both if you don’t know yet, maybe with a short story first, so you don’t lose so much time.

Old Writing

Many of us have a lot of old writing lying around. Journal entries, ideas with no context, scenes without a story, story beginnings, and so many other pieces of writing. Something that made sense to us at the time but was left aside.

Does this mean you were stuck? What to do with it? It depends! You can do nothing. If they stopped making sense, why do you have to do anything about it?

If there is an idea that still makes sense and you want to, then pick it up, read it and start writing again. You can start where you stopped. You can rewrite everything, change some things… It is up to you. Your creativity is endless! Besides, even if you end up with nothing, it is worth it. Experience and practice is the only way to improve your writing.

How to overcome?

What drives you is motivation. It is what makes you start a story, and the lack of it makes you stop writing. Take a moment to remember your motivation. What led you to write that story in the first place? Why did you want to write it?

The best way to overcome your procrastination or lack of motivation is to move on. There is something at that point that you don’t like, it is okay; keep writing. Later you can go back and find a better solution. If there isn’t a significant hole in the plot, it won’t be a problem.

Keep in mind: writing should be fun. If it’s not, then stop and find out why.

Less Pressure, Better Writing – my personal experience

“Less Pressure, Better Writing.” Sounds obvious, right? But who among us can say that you practice what you preach? Not many, I’m sure.

When you’re trying to be a writer (or any other profession for what matters), you put additional pressure on your shoulders. Besides the obvious one that you have to provide for yourself and your family. The bills can’t wait for you to be a renamed author, and you start to feel ‘the pressure of real life’. The anxiety grows inside you while the blank page in front of you… remains blank.

Today, I’m not giving you any advice, nor trying to tell you what you should do or how to deal with any problems. Instead, I just want to share a bit of my own recent story.

Keep trying

I am one of the few fortunate people who have someone by my side, always motivating me. Motivates me to believe in myself and fight as much as possible to get what I want. So, one day I quit my job and came home to write. All-day.

The first months were amazingly productive. So many things in my head to put down on paper! But that feeling of accomplishment slowly vanished. Other problems became more relevant – and an obstacle to writing. Writing is not a very well-paid job (if it is paid at all), and small children (I have one of those) don’t give us much time either. So, a decision had to be made.

I wasn’t sure of what I should do. I definitively needed to find a job, but when would I write? With a full-time job and my baby girl and all other responsibilities in life I couldn’t ignore, I would be forced to give up. Or so I believed.

Made it a pleasure, not a job

Then I was confronted with a sweet reality. Do not have the obligation of writing made me more relaxed regarding it. That allowed me to write more than I thought. Those 5 minutes between finishing my job and picking my baby at school are somehow more productive than an entire hour sitting in front of the PC with the single purpose of writing.

I don’t force myself to write and still write every day. This might not be the path to be a successful writer, but it brought back to me the true joy of writing. In my case, that’s what I needed.

Just be… a writer

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not trying to give you any advice or tell you how to behave. I wanted to share this to let you know that there is hope.

I now have a job as a writer (content marketing writing) that I love, aside from having my own projects. I’m a writer not because of my job but because I write, regardless the results of my writing. Things are not always perfect, but feeling good… is priceless.

Should I give up my story?

I don’t know a single author who hadn’t abandon a project (even if it was just for a while) and asked himself, “Does my book worth it?”.

A novel is a very long, demanding project that will keep you busy for a long time. Sometimes, you find yourself at a dead-end. You realize that it wasn’t such a good project as you had thought, and that can be devastating.

Does it have everything a story needs?

This happens for different reasons. The most common is that you had lots of ideas, full written scenes in your head, but you’re trying to squeeze them into a story that doesn’t exist. A bunch of scenes, no matter how great they are, isn’t a story.

You don’t have a well-written plot with a strong conflict. Your characters aren’t developed enough – they don’t have a specific goal, their personality is a mystery, or you don’t know how they look like.

Sometimes, you had a good plan, and everything was going well. Then, you feel gradually less excited about the project and start to see its flaws.

Take it or leave it

As enraging as it can be (desperation is also possible), it is a perfectly normal process. Now, before you give up on everything, let’s stop and think about it.

If you already sold the story, you have to keep working on it, whether you like it or not. If not, you can stop for a bit and ask yourself some questions.

Many times, our emotions get in the way of pragmatism. That’s great for our characters, but it can harm our work. That’s why you need to ask yourself the following questions and think about them one at a time:

Do I really like this story?

Am I just tired?

Is the story that bad that it can’t be fixed?

Do I know how to fix it?

If it is that bad, you can drop it or put it aside. You can always come back to it later with fresh eyes and a new perspective. You may, in the future, find the solution you can’t see now.

If you don’t know how to fix it, you can ask for help. And if you’re simply not sure about what’s going on, you can also ask for help!

Give up is (not) an option

To become a good writer, you need to write! A lot! Not all your stories will be masterpieces, and that’s okay.

Think about your “not so good” works as training wheels. Finding solutions for them may not make them great, but it will definitely impact your next work.

Analyze all the pros and cons of keep working on that story and make sure of what you truly want. Remember: you can always change your mind.

I want success, but… Do I have what it takes?

We all want to be successful. As a writer or anything else, we all like to be recognized by our work.

That recognition can also be quite scary. After all, it leaves us exposed to criticism, bad reviews, or nasty comments online. You can (and should) try to ignore them, but eventually, something will hit your nerves.

At that moment, you start to ask yourself: do I have what it takes to be successful? Stop right there!

Postponing the fear

Many writers and aspiring keep postponing their writing due to their daily responsibilities. It’s a common thought to decide to write when the kids become independent, or when you retire.

Most of the time, this decision is due to nothing else than the fear of failure.

You postpone your stories, your books, your fears… You believe you’ll deal with them later, but often, it is an illusion.

Are you talented enough?

Talent is a beautiful word to say. According to the dictionary is a “natural aptitude” to do something. You have met too many talented people in your life, and you wish you have it as well.

The first problem with focusing on talent is that it is not measurable. That makes it difficult to know if you have the gift or not. Secondly, talent is great, but it alone is nothing. Writing is what makes you a writer. Talent without production is worthless.

You must write to improve, that’s not an innate thing. You’ll write thousands and thousands of words, and most of them will be sent directly to the trash can. You will keep improving your skills until finally get your shot. Maybe, someday, you’ll see your work published and your skills recognized.

Do it and do it again

One of the biggest mistakes of beginners is to compare their work with published, successful writers. It’s evident that you should read them, you’ll learn a lot from them. Yet, let’s face it: your first draft will never be as good as their best novel.

This doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough, or that you should quit. It only means you need to train—the most as you can.

Being a good writer takes time and practice, not talent. For some people may be easier than for others, of course, but if you really commit to it, there is no stopping you.

You’ll be a good writer, with practice.

A successful writer is someone persistent enough to keep trying.

Writing is a (good) mess

There are many myths about writing – mostly formulated by non-writers – that make beginners feeling there is something wrong with them. Many people think that writing a novel is all about having a moment of inspiration, and then it’s just sit down and write it from the beginning to the end.

This leads most of young writers and aspirants to think that if they are writing and facing problems, they (or their story) aren’t good enough.

No problems, no story

Let me tell you this: that idea is very far from the truth. Facing problems and solve them is a natural part of the process. If you write a full novel without facing any problem… Well, you’ll probably want to look at it again, because that’s very odd.

It can be something in the plot, a character that doesn’t seem that real, or some technical imprecisions with any detail. There is always something that can’t work as we thought.

Our imagination works faster than our logical thinking. Said so, the most normal is for you to have to deal with a few loose ends.

And why not?

As frustrating as it can be, the truth is that there is no point in doing it on the first try. Your readers will have no idea how many drafts you made or how hard it was the whole process. All that matters is the final version. The one that gets to the bookshelves. And between the first draft and that version, there is a lot of messy work.

You’ll find a tremendous amount of problems to solve (with characters, style, rhythm, the conflict itself). So many different things can be a problem in your novel. And of course, your personal life will not stop because you’re trying to write a book, right? For example, in my case, my daughter doesn’t stop being four years old and behaving as such, because it would help me.

You must imagine good, vivid, exciting scenes and then put them into words – beautiful and interesting ones. This can’t be done in one try! You’ll write and rewrite most of your scenes several times. You go back and forward in your story dozens of times. Many projects will be abandoned, and even more, will arise.

You’ll read hundreds of stories from other writers to analyze them and learn from them. And let me tell you, most of the time, you’ll get desperate, thinking that you’ll never be able to write like them.

Just do it again!

You face so many problems, so many issues in the process of writing, that no one could ever imagine! The only thing to do is to keep going. Keep trying. Write it again. Change everything and start over if you need to.

Writing is a long, somewhat complicated process that can drive you crazy sometimes. Yet, there are good news! You can do it and undo it as many times as you need, and no one needs to know about it.