There will be days when you simply don’t feel like staring at a blank page.
As someone who’s been there, here’s my writing advice: push through and do it anyway.
Even on the days when you don’t feel like it. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of procrastination.
One day of “not feeling like writing” can easily turn into 2, then 10…until eventually, you give up entirely.
I’ve seen so many Authors give up the first, second, or even third time they tried to write a book—mostly because they lost their motivation and gave in to procrastination or fear.
If you want to publish a book, you have to dig deep and find the motivation to write every single day. Even if it’s terrible. Even if you hate it.
The only way to become a better writer—and to finish your book—is to push through those hard moments.
Here are 9 proven ways to motivate yourself to write—even when you don’t want to.
9 Proven Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write
1. Don’t Confuse Motivation with Passion
Forget everything you’ve ever learned about writing “out of passion.” If you wait to feel passionate about what you’re writing, you’ll never finish writing your book.
You can’t rely on passion. It comes and goes too easily. You’re not going to feel passionate every single day.
The same goes for writing inspiration. There’s rarely a bolt of lightning that makes the words flow.
Writing is hard. That’s why a lot of aspiring Authors give up before they’ve finished their first draft.
Motivation doesn’t always mean loving what you’re doing. Sometimes it means digging your heels in and just doing it.
For example, I don’t always love going to the gym, but I do it anyway. And in the end, I’m glad I did (after I’m done).
Don’t confuse passion for motivation.
It’s okay to write when you don’t “feel motivated” if what you really mean is, “I’m not stoked about doing this right now.”
You don’t have to be stoked about it. You just have to start writing.
If you feel passionate, that’s great. But don’t expect more of yourself than necessary.
If you’re writing, you’re motivated. Period. You’re doing it.
2. Outline First
At its core, writing is just communicating ideas. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.
Of course, you want the ideas you capture to be relevant to your book. That’s why you should always outline first—so you can capture all your ideas about a specific section before you move on to the next one.
Then, when you do sit down to write, you’ll already have all the relevant ideas gathered. That makes things a lot easier.
An outline is also your greatest defense against fear and writers’ block. It’s a lot harder to get stuck when you’ve got a roadmap guiding the way.
Scribe’s suggested outline is different from the one you might have learned in school. It’s not a bullet point list of every step of the argument.
We’ve found that traditional outlines aren’t flexible enough for most Authors. Plus, sometimes, you can’t get to that level of detail until you’re actually in the middle of writing.
What makes our outline different is that it’s designed specifically to help you write your book.
In fact, our writing process has helped thousands of Authors write successful nonfiction books. It works.
All it takes is 3 simple steps:
- Brainstorm your chapters
- Make a table of contents
- Fill in the outline structure with your chapter’s hook, thesis, supporting content, stories and examples, key takeaways, and a callback to the hook.
If you want a template or more details, you can find them here.
Once you see your book in outline form, writing it will seem easier.
Conceptually, you’re not writing a whole book anymore. You’re looking at a clear collection of ideas and stories, most of which are already in your head.
You’ll be more motivated to write once you’ve broken your book into manageable pieces. It’s easier to climb a mountain when you take it one step at a time.
3. Create Small, Attainable Goals
The reason an outline is so powerful is that it helps you see your book in terms of smaller, more attainable goals. You should do the same with all of your writing goals.
Many people start out thinking, “I have to write as much as possible.” Or, they set a high word count goal, like 1,000 words per day. And when they don’t reach those goals, they get disappointed. They feel like a failure.
That’s the worst way to motivate yourself to write.
With large goals, it’s easy to get intimidated (that’s usually when writer’s block sets in). But attainable goals make it easier to get over that hump.
Remember, motivation has nothing to do with passion. If you’re writing at all, you’re already motivated.
You don’t have to go overboard and shoot for the moon just to show you’re passionate about your book. When people do that, it’s usually because they’re trying to prove something to themselves.
You won’t prove anything by setting unattainable goals.
Rewire your brain and think small. Set goals that will set you up for success.
I recommend writing 250 words per day. That word count is low enough to be easily achievable. It leaves you with no excuses.
You could write 250 words on your phone between meetings. You could even dictate 250 words to your phone while you’re in the shower.
If you do end up writing more than 250 words, that’s great. Keep going as long as you want.
But if it’s one of those days where writing feels like a slog, you can still meet that word count and avoid being disappointed with yourself.
It’s more important to be consistent with writing than to have epic writing sessions.
When I was writing full-time, I blocked off 4 hours a day to write—but I rarely used that whole time to actually write. I read or did other things related to writing.
It’s hard to write for hours on end. And like most things in life, you’ll get diminishing returns.
Aim for 250 words every day, and stick with it. And remember, if you’re doing it, you’re motivated.
4. Make It a Daily Practice
Notice that I said you need to write 250 words every single day. That’s because you’ll be much more motivated to write when it becomes a daily practice.
In addition to the 250 words per day, I recommend that you come up with a writing routine to help keep you on track.
Pick a designated writing time and stick to it every day. Are you better at writing in the morning, or do you like to write right before bed? Maybe it’s easier to squeeze 250 words in over your lunch break.
There’s no right or wrong answer. Just pick a time whenever you do your best writing and stick with it.
The same goes for your writing place. Maybe you write well in a quiet office. Or, maybe it’s easier for you to focus in a coffee shop.
We worked with one Author who wrote in his Tesla while it was charging in his garage. He put the same playlist on every day, turned up the volume, and spent the next 45 minutes writing.
The reason you need a writing routine is the same reason you teach your kids to brush their teeth every morning.
They may grumble or whine, but once they get into the habit, they do it anyway—no matter how much they don’t want to.
It works the same way when you’re writing a book. Writing habits keep you motivated to write and do it again the next day.
A writing routine gives you the fuel to keep going, even when you think your tank is running low. When writing becomes an automatic part of your day, it’s a lot harder to procrastinate.
5. Don’t Be Perfect—Vomit on the Page
Don’t intimidate yourself by trying to be a perfect writer.
First of all, there’s no such thing.
Second, if you do that, you’ll never finish your book because you’ll never live up to your own expectations.
I’m dead serious. I’ve seen countless Authors get stuck writing the first draft of their book. They’ll get off to a good start—but then they’ll re-read what they’ve written, delete it, and start over.
They do that 50 times and eventually give up (spoiler: they never finish their book).
In fact, don’t even think of your writing as “writing a book.” You’re not writing a book. You’re just collecting your thoughts.
That’s why I call my first drafts “vomit drafts.” I spew words and thoughts onto a page. I don’t stop to edit, re-read, or think about how the writing flows.
Like vomit, it’s not pretty. But after you’ve written all your ideas out, you’ll feel so much better.
Plus, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself to write when you free yourself from the need to be perfect.
When you write a vomit draft, you don’t give yourself time to stare at a blank page. There’s no room for intimidation.
You just start writing and let whatever’s inside your brain come out. It’s not going to be perfect. In fact, it will probably be terrible.
But that’s okay. Most first drafts are terrible. Even books that go on to become bestsellers started as terrible first drafts.
Embrace it. Realize that bad writing is a natural part of the writing process.
A first draft is exactly what the name implies—a first step.
Your book will go through multiple drafts before anyone even sees it.
Of course, you’ll eventually have to wade through the vomit. You’ll have to trim, add, and edit. And you’ll probably have to move things around and rethink the structure of your chapters. That’s normal.
For now, stop worrying about how good or bad your writing is and start capturing your ideas. You can make them sound great later.
Don’t edit as you go. Just write. Vomit on the page.
It’s a lot easier to fix writing when you actually have writing to fix.
6. Focus on the Reader
Many people find it easier to motivate themselves during the “vomit” phase. Once you get into the groove of spewing 250 words per day, it can be refreshing.
The part that’s harder is when you have to go back through all that writing to turn it into a coherent, well-written book.
Here’s my advice when you reach that phase: hold on to your motivation by keeping your focus on the reader.
You’re writing a nonfiction book for a reason. What made you want to do this in the first place?
At some level, it’s because you want to help your readers solve their problems.
If you’re writing a memoir, it’s because you want to share your story with people who can benefit from hearing it.
If you’re writing a knowledge-share nonfiction book, you’re trying to prove to your readers that you’re the person that can meet their needs.
Whatever kind of book you’re writing, your reader is at the heart of your motivation.
If you feel stuck or don’t feel like writing, remember that. Think about the people you’re going to help and how their lives will change because of your book.
When readers pick up a nonfiction book, they aren’t looking for perfection or a sublime writing style. They’re looking to learn information that’s going to make their lives better.
Here are 4 essential writing principles to help you deliver information in a way readers will appreciate:
- Keep your writing short. Readers tune out when you wander.
- Keep your writing simple. Readers want content they can easily understand, even if the ideas are complex.
- Keep your writing direct. Get to the point, and make each sentence a single, direct statement.
- Keep it about the reader. Ask yourself this question about everything you write: “Why does the reader care?”
Imagine having a conversation with a client or a close friend. What would you tell them, and how would you deliver the information?
Don’t make writing harder than it has to be. To stay motivated, imagine speaking directly to your reader and making an impact on their lives.
If you’re still unmotivated after all that, you might want to reconsider your intentions. If it’s that hard to motivate yourself, maybe writing a book isn’t something you really want to do.
7. Practice Self-Care
This may seem odd to include in an article on motivational writing tips, but if you want to motivate yourself, you have to take care of yourself.
If you’re super stressed out or exhausted, you’re not going to function well. And you’re definitely not going to feel motivated to write.
I won’t lie. Writing can be a slog. And completing a book will take an emotional, mental, and sometimes physical toll on you. If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s easy to lose steam.
There are many ways you can take care of yourself. For example, you can:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat well
- Take nature walks
- Talk to a therapist
- Visit an energy healer or masseuse
- Try acupuncture
- Go for regular float sessions
- Sit in a sauna
- Take a bath with Epsom salts
Basically, take time to do things that will make your body and mind feel better. You want to develop good writing habits, not become a writing machine.
To do that, you need to check in with yourself from time to time to make sure you’re at the top of your game.
Being refreshed will make you a better writer. Self-care will revitalize you so you can come back the next day, ready to meet your writing goals.
8. Announce the Book
While some people thrive on routines and self-care, others are more motivated by external accountability.
If you’re one of those people, I recommend announcing that you’re working on a book.
Tell people on social media. Write a guest post for your favorite blogger. Email your friends and family.
Whatever method works best for you, use it to announce your intention to the world.
And if you’re serious about writing, I recommend announcing your book on the platform that makes you the least comfortable.
Yes, that may seem like a lot of pressure. But it’s important to identify any points of resistance you have and push through them.
You’ll get a lot of positive feedback, which will help you become more motivated. And when your motivation wavers, you’ll be reminded that there are people eagerly awaiting your book.
9. Recognize and Face Your Fear
I believe that every person has a book in them. But one of the major things that holds people back from writing those books is fear.
They’re afraid that their book won’t be good enough, original enough, or meaningful enough. They’re afraid of looking stupid or making people angry.
Those kinds of fears are normal, but you shouldn’t let them get in the way.
You have a story that’s worth telling. The only way to truly motivate yourself to tell it is to conquer your fear.
If you allow those fears to stick around, they only lead to procrastination, frustration, and surrender.
If you want to overcome your fear, I recommend facing them head-on. Write down all your fears about the writing process, self-publishing, or fears about how people will react once they read the book.
Evaluate each fear and recognize what those fears mean. Fear has a point and a purpose. It’s an indicator of risk.
Every Author who writes a book worth reading is taking a risk. If you’re scared, congratulations. It means you have something worth saying.
Fear isn’t the problem. The problem is when you let fears take over.
Keep in mind what your book is going to do for you and what it’s going to do for your readers.
Then, make a plan for facing your fears. For example, if you’re afraid you’ll never finish writing your book, use that fear as motivation. Create a writing routine and resolve to stick with it through the whole writing process.