The Secret to Writing Regularly

Dear Jennifer…

There are a zillion tricks for cranking out the pages. (Your favorites, Readers?) All of them come down to “motivation.” Here are 5 ways to get and stay motivated to write: Write what makes you happy – When a task is enjoyable, you’re more likely to start and stick with it, so instead of writing to trends, write what you want to write. Write as often as makes you happy – People think they must write daily, so even when they write 6 times a week they’re bummed. How about twice a week? Two times out of 2 is 100%, and 100% feels good. Write the amount that makes you happy – Small bites are OK. Fifty scenes a year is better than 5 full chapters sporadically produced. Compare yourself to yourself – Cultivate authentic inner power by improving yourself rather than competing with others. Celebrate often – Wrote a scene? Cheer on Facebook. See an improvement? Draw a happy face on your calendar to memorialize the day. Build yourself up, and build your WIP in the process.

Happy writing!
The Editor


  1. I think you have the key here. Compare yourself to yourself. I tend to get discouraged when I see others talking about their accomplishments. They aren’t walking in my shoes and I don’t know what other responsibilities they may have. I can only control me. Two days a week for two hours or so works with my life and bonus weekend time is always a plus. Thanks for stating my new plan so clearly.

  2. This is great advice and positive reinforcement always works. Thank you! I think most new writers are overwhelmed reading on writing sites and magazines that you MUST write everyday to be a good writer. I don’t know about most people, but life wears me out by the end of the day. I can only set aside the weekend for writing. I think as long as you are still working on it, whether by thinking about it or jotting little notes here and there during the week, it’s still development. 🙂

  3. I love your advice to set goals you can reach, celebrate them, and compare yourself to yourself. ^_^

    Two things that have really worked for me:

    1) Make a note of your progress, your daily word count (or running word count) or the pages you’ve revised on either a calendar or post-it notes. I love seeing the progress I’ve made.

    2) Having someone who is excited to read what you’re writing is great motivation. I have critique partners who ask where I am on certain projects, and their enthusiasm carries me through the places where I doubt myself. I doubt myself a lot. Choose your readers carefully. You’ll need them to be honest and point out mistakes, but you’ll also need people who build you up and believe in you. I am so thankful for mine.

  4. I took a year off from a novel I was working on. I did lots of other writing, but just not that. It took me awhile to identify why I was avoiding it, and the truth is, I was overwhelmed by the story and felt like I couldn’t face it. I knew where I wanted the story to go, but I didn’t know my characters or their environment well enough to write it.

    This year I’m back with strategies like character journaling (recommended by James Scott Bell), and character (profiles/dossiers to help me get acquainted with my characters). It has helped me, and maybe it will help someone else, too!

  5. Deborah,
    Thank you for the reminder to “write what makes you happy.” If we are not enjoying the writing process, I wonder how we can hope to create quality art.

  6. Really great insights and advice here. I don’t subscribe to the “You must write every day” rule, but it works for some people. Everyone’s style is different, so they should do what feels right to them.

  7. I agree with much of what’s been said. Knowing your characters and setting is key. Thinking about your story counts as much as sitting at the keyboard. Speaking of which, I am so driven to write and so delighted to be able to do so that it’s not difficult to sit down and write! If it happens that day that my fingers aren’t cooperating, I open different documents – fiction or nonfiction – until I feel inspired. 8-10 hour days aren’t unusual for me. Did the NaNoWriMo in November, passed 50K words on Day 14 and the not-quite-rough on Day 25. Spent first 18 days of December editing, rewriting, polishing. Now I’m on another challenge to write 1,000 words per day no matter what. Some days you’ll find you need a challenge and other days it just flows.

  8. What fantastic advice! I did that myself. I tried writing for the market and totally lost interest and stopped all together. Then I went back to writing what I liked. It worked!

  9. I agree that I should follow my wish and write as often as I want. No stress and comparison with others. Very good advice.

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