Written by A Guest Author February 23rd, 2023

How to Stay Motivated (So You Can Finish Your Writing Projects)

By Abdulraheem Jameel Ango

I’ve started more writing projects than I’ve finished. If you’re anything of a passionate writer, then the same is probably true for you.

Once you turn your hand to writing, the perceived difficulty of starting a writing project fades away almost immediately and yet a couple of thousand words later, numerous writing sessions, and multiple unfinished projects, it is easy to feel lost in the middle of the thick forest of projects you’ve started. The simple truth is that completing a writing project can be the most challenging part of the writing process.

You may already have every part of your story figured out – the plot, the theme, the characters, perhaps even the ending. But midway through it, it seems as though your story won’t make it through the tunnel after all. There just seems to be something holding it back.

Most writers struggle to finish their writing projects. According to statistics, more than 90% don’t. At some point in the writing journey, the vehicle begins to decelerate and jerk, then the struggle to push it through the journey kicks in. Without been told, we all know that the vast majority of writing projects that never see the light of day can be chalked up to a loss of motivation on the part of the writer or the dwindling of it.

Here are some effective ways to stay motivated throughout your writing process and wrap up your projects:

   Scale-Up Your Goals:

The perceived results or outcome we expect to achieve in whatever we do is the most critical factor that drives us toward it. When working on a writing project, our goal is to have a finished book, essay, or any piece of literature. If having a finished book is enticing enough to make you start the project in the first place, then improving your expected outcome can considerably help you stay on track and see it through to the end. This can be achieved by scaling up your goals. When you step up your goals to a higher level, this consequently upgrades your expected reward.

For instance, instead of wanting to have your final draft or tie up your project, set a goal to have your book published and look forward to the result. This upends your perspective and expectations, and keeps the fire inside of you burning, because you aren’t looking forward to a mundane reward such as finishing a book, your desired reward is having your work published and to achieve that you have to write. The idea is that the more compelling and enticing the reward of your goal is, the more motivated you’d be to finish your project.

Expectancy Theory suggests that human behaviour is determined by what people expect the outcome of a particular action to be, in other words the desirability of the outcome. Finishing your final draft might lose its glamour down the line, but publishing your work might not.

Apply the Goldilocks Rule

Imagine setting a goal to write a thousand words a day. If you’re new to writing or have a lot of commitments, you’ll quickly lose motivation and quit. It’ll be too tall of a mountain to climb. Conversely, if you’re a passionate writer and you live and breathe words, you may easily get bored. It’ll be too easy.

Setting goals that are too easy or too hard can easily drain your motivation. They’ll either be discouraging or mind-numbing. The middle ground is to set a goal or a challenge that is neither too hard nor too easy but within an optimal level of difficulty. This is the concept of the Goldilocks Rule, it states that people access and experience peak motivation levels when working on tasks that are on a par with their abilities.

Setting optimal challenges will make you work continuously towards achieving your goals while also enjoying the process. You’d be surprised at how well you perform when you set optimal goals and work towards them.

  Say No to Overwork

It is a common belief that the more work you get done in a day, the more productive that day is. By extension, the more you can get done in a day, the more productive and motivated you are. Hence getting a great amount of work done is an indicator of strong motivation. This belief is rather fallacious.

While I do believe that getting some specific amount of work done is necessary, I think it is inefficient to try to measure motivation using the amount of work we produce. If you write 1,500 words, do some editing, a ton of research, and some networking, this might look like a successful day and also reflect your indefatigable motivation to get everything done. However, this isn’t always true.

Working on a variety of tasks in a day can lead to overwork. This is mostly the reason why you become exhausted and don’t feel like going on after a few days of wearing yourself out. Overwork equals stress, and stress depletes your motivation. Try to avoid it. As Henry Miller precisely puts it:

“Cement a little everyday, rather than add new fertilizers”.

Set Weekly Goals

We all have daily rituals we adhere to diligently. These are the daily goals we want to achieve. As a result, we tend to start a race each and everyday of our lives. A major drawback is that we don’t always get to finish these races at the end of the day.

A better and more efficient way to set goals is to set weekly goals. Rather than setting a goal to write three thousand words a day, you can decide to write ten thousand a week. This might sound like a decrease in productivity, but it actually isn’t. You may get burned out trying to achieve your goals each and everyday and miss some days, but if they’re set weekly, you can easily make up for the deficit another day before the week ends.

This will allow you to work towards your goals and meet deadlines without cracking under pressure or getting overwhelmed with guilt everytime you fail to achieve your daily goals.

 Take Conscious Breaks

Writing may be a hobby to us, so we think it’s possible to write each and everyday of our lives, since it should be like playing ball.

The truth is a bit further than that, writing like any art can be demanding or exhausting. Taking short breaks daily can be effective, but i’ve recently realized that taking a whole day off is much more refreshing. I turned a potential off day into a day off, though this meant cancelling my goals for the day, it was totally worth it as I was able to come back better the next day. My motivation was rekindled, and I felt as enthusiastic and excited about my project as when I started it. Day offs are more effective than short daily breaks, in that they give your brain enough time to refresh and your subconscious enough time to flesh out your project, so you aren’t grasping at straws during your writing sessions.

If writing everyday is starting to feel more like a chore than the hobby you want it to be, consider taking a day off or  to refresh and come back stronger. Even if you can write everyday without loosing motivation, having a day off as part of your weekly schedule couldn’t hurt. Just be conscious of your work and don’t laze around and take an entire week off refreshing.

In Conclusion

Starting a project is a journey that requires a lot of persistence and motivation to fuel  your vehicle. Having a compelling benefit or reward, working at an optimal level of difficulty and avoiding overwork can help you stay on track. If the track eventually gets rough and bumpy, setting weekly goals can serve as checkpoints while taking a break can ultimately refresh and reinvigorate your writing machine.

Bio: Abdulraheem Jameel Ango is a freelance writer with years of experience, that has written for a wide range clients and businesses. Find out more at: https://medium.com/@abdulwrites



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