Sonia, a former Adult Education Tutor, shares inspiring, unique, and actionable motivational strategies for more prolific writing.
That Recurrent Writing Output Issue
Are you, once again, disgruntled with yourself for falling short of your writing and publishing targets? Thought so! Well, because no two writers are exactly the same, this page details a three-step Customised Writing Formula that will have you formulate your own ideal individual strategy for prolific writing. With customised motivation, you can increase your productivity and finally get to that wonderful, but so far elusive, place where you are writing and publishing as often as you want to be, could be and should be.
The truth is that very deep down most people do know how to motivate themselves to achieve their goals. The problem is that it's extremely tricky to actually dig deep enough within to elicit what kind of motivation will best serve to help. This is where the three-step guidance comes to the rescue.
So, if your current motivational technique is broken, then fix things by substituting it with a “proven” approach which is rooted in your own unique personal history.
Tips for Productivity
- List past challenges and issues you have triumphed over
- Identify what helped in surmounting them
- Adapt, augment and combine what helped in the past so as to motivate yourself in your current writing aims
Breaking This Down
It’s time for you to cogitate so grab a pen and paper and let's get down to business! (NB: in addition to the breakdown of these 3 steps immediately below, for added inspiration and direction, there are examples of the Customised Writing Motivation Formula in action in a table further down this page.)
Again, you start by making a list of as many challenges (both big and small) as you can think of that you have faced and overcome in both your recent and distant past.
- If you're stuck for getting started on this, you might go way back and reflect on any new year resolutions you used to make year on year on year. Pinpoint the resolutions you don’t have to make anymore because you eventually accomplished whatever it was you wanted to achieve. Make a note of all these.
- As well as listing specific goals, give thought to situations, dilemmas or problems that were once troublesome but have improved or are no longer an issue. For example, have you overcome a tendency to spend too much money, stalk/call your ex or eat profuse amounts of junk food!
Next take time to ever so carefully reflect on what ultimately helped you to achieve each formerly illusive feat or to turn around situations on your list. Make a note of anything or anyone that influenced or supported you. For instance,
- Was there a whole new approach to the issue, something you did majorly differently on the occasion you finally met your goal or finally became able to improve on things, come to terms with or be at peace with over something?
- Was there perhaps some seemingly small tweak to your methodology, monitoring, habits or the way you analysed issues that made an all important difference?
- Did you anticipate likely obstacles and develop some form of alternative structured “go to” plan for stifling each of them the next time they presented, instead of simply falling into reacting in the same old ways that previously got you nowhere, or just doing nothing.
- Did you develop different coping strategies?
- Was there a change in your mindset which helped?
- Did you employ the carrot or stick approach—rewarding yourself when you succeeded or applying a forfeit if you didn't. (Generally, the carrot approach works well to keep things positive.)
- Maybe you shared your worries with a trusted confidant who helped or inspired you to think outside the box for a solution
- Maybe you yourself thought through exactly what detailed advice you would give to a dear friend whose happiness, well being or livelihood depended on achieving a goal and then actually took the advice yourself.
Last but not least, it’s time to brainstorm how you could adapt, expand and/or combine adapt one or more of the principles, strategies, habits etc that you have identified as being helpful in the past to the writing challenge you are facing (see the table below).
Examples of the Customised Writing Motivation Formula in Action
|(Step 1) Past Problems/Issues Resolved||(Step 2) What Helped||(Step 3) Brainstorming/Adapting What Helped for Writing Ambitions|
Trepidation about public speaking/presentations
Building confidence by being fully prepared before the event and seeing each occasion as an opportunity to learn – reflecting on what went well and what needs to change the next time around.
Building confidence by seeking help/doing courses in any areas of particular concern. Developing ways to curb self-sabotaging thinking with regard to writing. Believing others if they praise the work.
Bereavement – missing the person, having regrets
Remembering the good times. Being thankful that the person was there for a time. Accepting the past and looking to the future
Acknowledging writing/progress thus far, rather than merely ignoring or discounting past efforts. Accepting that as far writing regrets are concerned, like anything else, the past cannot be changed and acknowledging that the future can indeed be different.
Relationship Ending – feeling dejected, sorry for oneself
Accepting what is, learning from the past, planning what to usefully do in place of moping around and becoming more depressed.
Researching and planning how to overcome recurring difficulties and obstacles (e.g. research and try out new ways to finally curb non-stop editing). Realising that so called “writer’s block is just a hic cup and resolving not let this be an excuse to come to a complete standstill. Acknowledging it’s not the end of the world and developing a more resilient positive attitude to writing overall.
Repeatedly giving up on weight-loss diet before target reached
A different approach (intermittent fasting). Self sponsorship for Charity (x amount to charity for every lb lost)
A different approach e.g. Instead of just writing whatever/whenever, having a clear outline, structure, purpose and objective for each article/chapter/ piece of work. Self sponsorship – x amount to a favourite charity each time something is published
Neglecting to floss teeth regularly
Seeking expert advice and taking account of the ultimate undesirable consequences of not flossing. (gum disease, hygiene issues, “toothlessness”!). Curbing procrastination and prioritising flossing in daily routine.
Assessing what the consequences are if output is not improved. E.g. Lack of earnings, lack of credibility, lack of example to those you wish to inspire or impress and, just as important, lack of self satisfaction/ pride. Moving writing higher up the list of priorities.
Acceptance, cowering, and/or not standing up for oneself when treated unfairly by others
Improving self esteem and taking back control of one’s own emotions and reactions. Deciding to change oneself rather than plead or wait for the other person to change. Deciding not to simply recoil, get overwhelmed or tearful. Deciding to be proactive rather than reactive or stay a victim.
Resolving to take control over one’s own writing rather than giving way to apathy, self sabotage or procrastination. Resolving not to bow to those who say writing is a waste of time/get a real job/not worth it. Deciding to set up mechanisms to change and motivate oneself.
Sometimes, there is a common factor that has assisted with a number of different issues, but even if there isn’t a clear theme running through what helped, think carefully about how, for example, you:
- withstood a temptation,
- delayed gratification,
- broke a bad habit/initiated a good habit, or
- overcame a fear.
Thoroughly chew things over to see if there is any way in which you can apply the same principles, thought processes or strategies to help you increase your writing and publication rate. Now, what on earth have you got to lose by trying the Customised Writing Motivation Formula when most everything you have tried up to now has not yielded your desired outcomes?
The big takeaway here is that if certain motivational strategies have proved to work well for you in the past, they could well benefit you in a different endeavour such as writing, when suitably augmented, combined and/or adapted. No, of course there’s no guaranteed magic formula to increase your output, but ruminating extensively on what has actually helped you get stuff done heretofore could well be the key to formulating a tailor-made motivational strategy to defeat low output.
Now, all that said . . . the amount you write or publish is not the only consideration that matters. Hence, below, there’s an important section on quality and how this must impact target setting and time-frames.
Without Customised Writing Motivation . . .
Quality Allowance When Setting a Target
Like most endeavours, with a writing challenge it's important to bear in mind that producing your best quality work will take more time and effort than turning out mediocre or sub-standard content. Thus, when setting a time-frame, as keen as you are to become more productive, be sure that your production rate equation takes adequate account of the quality of writing you want to achieve.
For example, if your desire to write more is, among other things, to do with wanting to earn more, you may well find that you need to adjust your initial publication target downwards. In this regard, remember that publishing more does not automatically mean earnings will increase. Quality, and not simply quantity, is key.
Further you can never precisely predict which articles or publications are going to be your “best sellers” so to speak, or how lucrative (or not) your best sellers are going to turn out to be. Even if you are fortunate to make a killing of sorts with a particular publication over a period of time, that doesn’t mean it will always be a “best seller”.
Balancing Output and Quality
This is where it helps if increased output can go hand in hand with quality. Hopefully, if/when one best seller starts to go down the pan, because of a more consistent production rate, you have another “contender” lined up to take its place. Conversely if you have not maintained an adequate production rate, there won’t be anything much in the pipeline to potentially help sustain earnings.
Now, even with all this in mind, the following crucial considerations will impact your motivation to write and, as much as you might like to gloss over them, they should not be ignored.
A Deadly Writing Opponent
Vagueness—both in detailing the objectives or in having a specified end date—is the enemy when it comes to being prolific. Know that taking the time to think things through and to set a measurable target with a realistic end date can pay fantastic dividends in terms of realising your goal. (There are of course many other writing opponents, for example non-stop editing, but they are not for this particular article!)
Let’s take it that being solely answerable to yourself hasn't worked in the past. Or perhaps you have been answerable to someone else but that just isn’t working. Well obviously something needs to change then! You need to shake things up by accounting to someone else, a few people or most everyone about both your goals are and the time-frame so as to gain the benefit of accountability. Think carefully about who/what can afford you that all-important no-nonsense, answerability.
And that's not all—right throughout the time-frame you have settled on, you need to update that someone/everyone on a pre-planned, declared, regular basis. Do know that timed interim goals are “friends” in establishing and sustaining an increased writing output rate.
Thus you could benefit from joining a writing group, asking someone (e.g. a family member or a friend or another writer) to be your mentor or announcing your daily/weekly intentions on social media, updating frequently for all to see. Alternatively, like the writer of this page, you can declare your targets and time-frames below in the comments section of this article and come back to update it at intervals—sharing obstacles, successes and progress along your journey to achieving your goal.
Being Your Own Best Friend
Now for crying out loud, please do yourself the biggest favour ever and quit stabbing yourself in the back. Got that! If you've been consistently falling short of your publishing targets, this shift in mental attitude is not just some optional extra.
In addition to trying to make writing more of a priority, you need to methodically dismantle complacency, inadvertent self-sabotage and/or procrastination. These things all play a life-size part in a person giving up on reaching a goal. (STOP PRESS: There's a must-read tip to kill procrastination at the end of this article.)
Starting today, in point of fact starting right now, do yourself the colossal service of resolving to consciously and consistently "catch" and cancel out any unhelpful thoughts and negative self-talk that pop up in your mind in relation to your writing endeavours. The table below has a few examples of how to strangle the life out of goal destroying thoughts.
|When Unhelpful Negative Thoughts Like These Come to Mind||Immediately Supplement and Counteract Them With Supportive/Positive Ones Like|
"I'll never get this article/project done on time"
"Hey, now wait a minute - I do indeed have the tenacity to do what has to be done within this time-frame"
"This is just getting far too difficult"
"But you know what - I've come this far and I can definitely keep going"
“I’m terrible at editing”
"Now hang on - I’m taking steps to improve and hone my editing technique and it’s starting to work." [ and of course you need to follow through and use a new editing technique so that you are not lying to yourself about this! ]
Bearing in mind the examples in the above table to counteract unhelpful thinking with something positive and supportive, you are on the road to making the concept of a “self-fulfilling prophesy” work in your favour.
You can go a step further along this route by devising and regularly repeating a relevant affirmation statement or mantra, for example, “I am becoming a prolific writer” OR “I am a prolific writer”—whichever you feel most comfortable with in the moment.
Again, no two writers are the same so by:
- using the 3 Step Customised Writing Motivation formula
- anticipating writing obstacles, having and sticking to plans to overcome them
- clearly defining measurable goals for quality work with realistic time-frames
- establishing regular interim, as well as ultimate, accountability, and
- eradicating self-sabotage
. . . you can become more invigorated and confident than ever before about your ability to meet writing and publishing targets. Yes, you too have the potential to become a significantly more prolific, and self-satisfied, writer.
Do bear in mind though that becoming more prolific and sustaining it won’t happen overnight and as advocated by author Chris Fox in “Lifelong Writing Habit,” it takes solid organisational effort to become more productive. Although a quick read, the writer of this page found this book to contain sound advice for developing habits that support making time to write, and this can go hand in hand with the motivational advice above.
So what are you waiting for? What's to stop you using that there pen and paper and the 3 Step Customised Writing Motivation Formula to formulate a unique tailor-made approach that will have you writing and publishing at a rate you can be finally be proud of? In closing, here’s that essential help for chronic procrastinators . . .
A Crucial Tip to Beat Procrastination!
Something surprisingly successful that helps with combatting procrastination is to simply clench and un-clench your fists 5 or more times whenever you need to muster up the energy or will to go do whatever you need to do, right there and then. Just please do try it—it can absolutely work to have you get up off that oh so comfy sofa!
You have absolutely nothing to lose by trying it next time you're in the grip of procrastination, and you won't regret it. Just keep clenching and un-clenching those fists and punch procrastination out of your life.
J. K. Rowling on Motivation
© 2017 Sonia Sylart
Sonia Sylart (author) from UK on February 27, 2018:
At the end of the time frame I set myself below I had published 7 articles here on hubpages (although for reasons relating to 4 of those articles being “stolen” and reproduced elsewhere, and after much effort and time spent to get the copy articles unpublished by the “thief” I subsequently decided to unpublish them here on Hubpages and place them elsewhere.)
As to the ebooks – this is still a work in progress because as it turns out, for the quality of work I'm committed to producing, my timeframe was indeed far too tight.
To sum up, on the articles front, that’s one article shy of my target of 8. Yes - a little short but still well up on my usual publishing rate! So overall this method has been well worthwhile plus I'm happy to have contributed to the work of my charity.
Sonia Sylart (author) from UK on February 27, 2018:
You're welcome Nell. Keep warm!
Nell Rose from England on February 26, 2018:
Thanks for sharing your great ideas! I will definitely re read when I need motivating, thanks!
Sonia Sylart (author) from UK on October 04, 2017:
FIRST UPDATE - I've published 2 articles and will soon be publishing three more (the subject matter is related and so I'll wait until all 3 are finished before publishing). So far so good.
Thankfully I'm more inclined to stick to my new editing strategy which seems to be helping as regards to curtailing "non-stop editing".
Sonia Sylart (author) from UK on September 18, 2017:
Tim - I really appreciate that feedback and it's good to hear you've completed a writing project - Well Done You - keep it up! :-D
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on September 17, 2017:
Thank you, and congratulations on having 5 featured Hubs. You keep your friend in the U.S. motivated. I completed a short story today because of your advice.
Sonia Sylart (author) from UK on September 17, 2017:
Many thanks for reading and for your feedback.
Sonia Sylart (author) from UK on September 17, 2017:
I do appreciate your comment. Keep on with that book - you'll be so pleased with yourself once it's finished.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 16, 2017:
There's a lot of good advice in this article. It's certainly thought provoking. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on September 14, 2017:
Thank you. Excellent article. I have a full-length novel that begs for completion, but short stories and other writing tasks keep getting in the way. I'll try your advice. But rubbing and holding my dog for a few minutes tend to help.
Sonia Sylart (author) from UK on September 14, 2017:
MY GOAL: to publish 8 articles and 2 ebooks
MY TIMEFRAME: by the end of 3 months time (today’s date is 14th Sep 2017)
MY MOTIVATION: To help keep me on track I will be donating £x to a favourite charity each time I publish an article. I don’t want to let my charity down and, among other things, I am banking on this premise to motivate and inspire me to meet this challenge. To some, my targets may not seem too ambitious, but for me it would be a many-fold improvement on the article writing side and, to date I have no published e-books at all, although I have at least 4 or 5 unfinished e-books. Hence for me this would be a fantastic achievement/improvement.
SOME BACKGROUND: I struggle with getting enough down on paper and getting to the point of publication. Also I have struggled with achieving weight-loss targets but found that, personally, self sponsorship to lose weight for charity was a great motivator. It inspired me to strive harder to overcome weight-loss plateaus (whereas previously I would just give up on my diet when I inevitably hit this obstacle) and, although a little outside of the original time-frame, I was indeed able to reach my target weight. Hence I’m employing this proven method (for me at least) to my writing output targets since I don’t want to stay in my same old writing rut. Watch this space!