Writing a Romance Novel – What’s my Motivation?
The eternal question – how can I motivate myself to do… well, anything!
Life never seems to get too much easier, does it? Work, cleaning, shopping, cooking, kids if you have them, and somehow you have to fit in exercise, seeing friends and being sociable as well, not to mention the occasional holiday and some snatched hours of sleep every night. When on earth does that leave you time, or more than a shred of motivation to write a romance novel??
Don’t worry, if I can find the motivation, you can too- it’s not always easy, but it is kind of simple.
Firstly, question why you DON’T want to sit down to write.
Sounds counter intuitive, but it is a great place to start! Here’s my usual list: I’m too tired, I don’t feel like it, I’ve got ‘proper’ work to do if I’m going to do anything. I don’t know what to write! What I write is all terrible anyway. Who on earth wants to read this crap? I’m hungry. I need to go to bed. I’ll do double tomorrow.
Sound familiar? I can, and sometimes do, recite this list in response to everything I once decided was important enough to put on my calendar or list of goals! But what this list all boils down to is excuses. Harsh, I know, but by saying these things, I’m talking myself out of improving my life by negatively focussing on my ability and my current state of mind. Let’s face it, criticising your own work isn’t going to improve anything. Besides, there are a bunch of keyboard warriors out there happy to save you a job and do it for you. And not even writing because ‘I know it’s going to be terrible’, means I read someone else’s book in bed for an hour before I fall asleep seething at myself for not writing a word. So, now we know where we are, a tired and scared person afraid of putting their work out there!
Second, question why you chose to write a romance novel in the first place.
This is great because it brings you out of your mood and into your desire. You chose to write a romance novel perhaps because the idea and characters burned to be put onto paper, perhaps because you want a side income or to be able to leave your job when the books start paying big, or perhaps because writing is your only creative outlet and it keeps you on an even keel. Whatever the reason, you made the choice to write for A reason. It really helps to have this reason written down somewhere you can see it a lot- on the fridge door perhaps, or as your phone or laptop screensaver. Once you remember your ‘why’ for writing, it normally provides that little flicker of motivation that is enough to drag yourself to the keyboard.
Thirdly, make yourself a daily target, and stick to it.
In one of my writers’ groups, we have a 50 words a day target, and we encourage each other to write at least this ON OUR ROMANCE NOVELS. Writing a huge email to your mum doesn’t count, I’m afraid. It has to count toward your final goal- of publishing a romance novel! 50 words is such a perfect target, really, because it’s about 2 shortish sentences, which should take about 2 minutes to think up and then type. Everyone has 2 minutes to themselves in a day- even if you have to take your phone into the bathroom with you to tap out your sentences there! What I usually find is that 50 words soon become hundreds and hundreds, but if it doesn’t, then no sweat because I showed up for my target. Showing up for your own targets is motivation generating in and of itself, because who doesn’t love to impress themselves??
Fourth – if you need time off, take it. But plan it.
If you are writing a romance novel as a side project, you will need to take time out sometimes, and that is a-ok. The last thing you need is to burn out! I know I said you have to stick to your targets to keep motivation up, and I stand by that. But, you also need to manage your time and health, mental and physical. This could look like scheduling a week off writing if you have a heavy cold, taking the weekend off to attend a wedding, or leaving your laptop behind for a work conference to focus on the task at hand. Whatever you need to do to stay fresh and motivated, do it, but make sure it is planned in advance. If you have a crappy day, come home in a bad mood and immediately turn on Netflix with a glass of something in your hand, I totally get you, but unless you are sick or something terrible has happened, I would advise you make the effort to bash out just a few words before bedtime. If I do this, I wake up the next day feeling like I let myself down, and I don’t like that! It doesn’t make me want to write the next day, or the day after that, and before you know it, I’ve taken a week off and feel terrible about myself.
So there we have it, four simple but effective ways to keep your motivation to write your romance novel.