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Writing is easy, but writing everyday is hard
Do you remember the story about the mice that got trapped in a cream jar? Two mice fall into a jar, and both of them frantically try to escape. One of the mice gives up after some time, and it drowns. The other mouse keeps attempting to climb out. Eventually, the mouse churns the milk into butter, and it doesn’t drown.
It’s a children’s story, and it preaches the importance of never giving up. Really though, it’s kind of a harrowing tale. These mice somehow find themselves in a jar of cream, and even after one of the mice drowns in a pool of lactose, the other one continues without a second thought.
So where am I going with this? To me, this story is about motivation. Even though the mouse didn’t know it would happen, he was able to churn the cream into butter, and get out of the jar. His motivation was his life. If he stopped moving his little legs, then he would’ve surely died like his little mouse friend.
As writers, we aren’t motivated by our impending deaths. Well, most of us aren’t. Unless your Albert Camus or Edgar Allen Poe, your motivations lie elsewhere.
Unfortunately, motivation isn’t always easy to come by. We can write for hours on end some days. We can churn out 2–3 blog posts in a single sitting. On other days, however, we’d almost rather drown in cream than type a single letter.
When the writer blues get the best of you, there are three simple ways to motivate yourself to sit down and do some writing.
1. Compete with yourself
A little competition ever hurt anyone. It certainly won’t hurt you if you compete against yourself. It’s fun to game-ify your life. The goal is to constantly be a better version of yourself.
For example, this week, I’m trying to post more stories than I ever have in 7-day time frame. It’s near the end of the week, and I’ve accomplished my goal. It wasn’t easy, but the self-competition forced me to leave my comfort zone.
Compete against yourself. Don’t compete against others. If you compare yourself to the work of others, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. By comparing yourself to others, you won’t feel like you are good enough, and you will zap the joy away from writing.
Don’t compare yourself to the writers who post two stories a day. That’s just how they roll. They did not used to be that efficient. Trust me. It took them years to get to where they are at, and I bet they aren’t done perfecting the process.
Don’t compete with others and you’ll get to define your own version success. Besides, what happens if you do “beat” someone else. You may fall subject to success syndrome. You’ll take it easy from here on out. You will stop producing your best content.
Compete with yourself, and you will grow.
2. Create an incentive
Sometimes you just don’t want to sit down and bust out a blog. What if you typed for 20 minutes and then rewarded yourself with a snack?
The incentive is a common tactic to get children to do their homework, help with yard work, or clean the house. We’re not above it either. Sometimes we just need an extra push, and sometimes a little popcorn is all it takes.
You don’t have to incentivize yourself with a snack either. Just think about what you like to do. If you like shopping for clothes online, then allow yourself to do that after a writing session. Want to watch TV all day? Complete a writing session, and then watch an episode of your show.
The options are limitless. You know what you like to do. Treat yourself, but at least be a little bit productive.
3. Go back to “why”
Why are you doing this, and who are you doing it for? If you have a goal in mind, the goal itself is the biggest motivator.
We can’t always rely on ourselves, or the incentives we place in front of us, to do the writing. Sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself, “Why do I write?”
What’s your answer? For me, the reason I write is because I want to build my newsletter. There are other reasons why, but the newsletter is my number one goal. I want 10,000 email subscribers one day. I won’t get any closer to my goal if I don’t write blog posts and get people’s attention.
When I think about my end goal, I can’t help but put a smile on my face. It’s a crazy idea, but it’s an idea that might just work. I keep that smile on while I write. It lifts my mood. I’m doing what I like to do, and I can see the light at the end of tunnel.
Writing is easy. Writing day after day is hard. You need to be a little crazy to do it.
- Don’t compare your work to others. Set up some healthy competition with yourself. Watch yourself grow. You will gradually be able to accomplish things you thought you never could.
- Place an incentive in front of you. Allow yourself to play video games, eat a dark chocolate bar, or ride your bike to the beach, but if and only if you do some writing first.
- Don’t forget why you write. You have a goal in mind. You won’t get any closer to achieving your goal by neglecting to write.
Write a little bit everyday, and after just a month, you’ll see how far you’ve come. It isn’t easy to write everyday though. It’s hard to see the bigger picture. We fail from time to time, so writing can often seem like a waste of time.
Stay true to yourself. You know yourself better than anyone, because you are your own biggest critic. Keep chasing your rival. Your rival is you, and you will both push each other to new limits.