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Writing Motivation -- Inspiration for Writers and Novelists

Updated on September 5, 2014

Finding the Motivation to Write -- Books, Wall Art, and other Tools to Keep You on Track

Writing motivation is the one thing that gets books written. Yes, sound writing skills will make it a book an editor might read, and a fine-tuned style of writing together with an imaginative idea are necessary to ever stand out. But to get that novel or non-fiction work finished in the first place you have got to have the motivation to write.

Of course, it can be easier said that done! That's why it can be helpful to create your own backup team of quotes, inspiring authors, even images. Because the one thing about writing is that although it can feel lonely, you are never truly alone. Other people right now are fighting the same battles with writer's block or even good old laziness. Believe it or not, even the great authors of the past have been where you are write now.

It's a battle worth fighting if you have something to say. Whether or not you believe we all have a novel in us, if you have a burning idea for a book, don't let it turn into one of your life's regrets that you didn't ever finish (or start) writing it. Keep reading for a few ideas of how to get fired up to write once more.

Image copyright of the author.

How Do Writers Get Motivated?

It's the big question!

The question we all want answered, naturally, is where does this writing motivation come from? It is not enough to want to write a book. It's easier to find people who don't want to write a book than to find those who have a secret -- or not so secret -- desire to be a novelist. There is a gulf between these people and those who are published writers that intention, no matter how sincere, simply can't fill.

Motivation for writers is the fuel that will keep you going all the way from the first page of your first draft to the final correction. If you found that fuel dried up somewhere around the second paragraph, first know you are not alone! Second, take some time to explore some tips, tools and tricks you can use for writing motivation. Discover what works for you. And then... write!


Writing Motivation Tip 1

Use a Guidebook

You wouldn't set out on a long and complex journey without a map, no matter how well you could picture the final destination. Just because you know where you want to get (a finished novel) doesn't mean it will be plain sailing getting there. The smart thing to do is to find yourself a guide. Someone who knows the terrain, has been there already and can tell you about all the shortcuts and pitfalls.

Ah, but I already have a load of "how to write" books...

When it comes to writing, we are spoiled for choice. If I had spent the time writing that I have spent in reading books ON writing, my finished books would line a shelf. There are some fantastic books out there on writing technique. You probably own a few.

But here we are talking about writing motivation, right? So we can call on our guides to grammar and opening scenes and building convincing characters when we need them. These people will make you a better writer, if you put their ideas into use. First, it is necessary to write the book.

For this, we need a special guide. One who will focus on the mechanics of getting yourself to physically sit down, to mentally get into gear, and to type or write the words that make the sentences that make the chapters that make the book.

Call it writer psychology, motivational science, or anything you like. The whole point of writing motivation books is to get you started and, even more important, to keep you going.

Who can do that for me?

This depends. Since we are talking about psychology here, you need a writing motivation guide who is on the same wavelength as you. You might respond well to coaxing and need a lot of encouragement, and that's OK, you just need to find a writer whose style fits with that. You might need full-on discipline. Again, you're going to need to meet your match from among the published writing motivation guides.

I'll offer you a couple of recommendations here of writing motivation books that worked for me. Check them out, and if the style doesn't fit, explore some others. Somewhere out there you'll find the right writing motivation guide for you.

Give Yourself The Right to Write

Julia Cameron is well know as one of the most motivating writers out there when it comes to the creative professions. From The Artist's Way to The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart, she has been inspiring artists and other creative people for years.

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life was written specifically for writers and those who want to write, but need to give themselves permission.

Cameron believes that we all have the ability to be a writer, it is not some magical talent that only the chosen few can exercise. In each short chapter, she introduces us to aspects of writing as a way of being. This is followed by "Initiation Tools" that guide us past our own psychological blocks to writing.

Is this book for me?

This book is writing motivation with a gentle touch. The voice of this book is kind, like speaking with a cherished friend, and makes it an excellent read for those whose lack of writing motivation comes down to a lack of belief in themselves.

This guide to writing is not a one-trick pony, though. There are valuable lessons to be learned about discipline and how to find it, and about the sheer delight of writing. If you want permission to be a writer, and to know how to become one through daily habits, this is the book for you.

Writing on Both Sides of the Brain - by Henriette Klauser

Left Brain, Right Brain?

Another great choice for writing motivation is Writing on Both Sides of the Brain: Breakthrough Techniques for People Who Write by Henriette Klauser.

I own this book too. It is a slimmer book than Cameron's, but just as packed with great advice to motivate your writing. The subtitle of this writing guide is "Breakthrough Techniques for People Who Write" and it lives up to that promise.

Is this book for me?

While Cameron's writer is subtle and captivating, with the moral of the story revealed gradually, Klauser is much more direct. She teaches you to get tough with your inner critic. In rapid succession she hands you practical tools to achieve this.

As the title suggests, you'll learn something about the way the brain works. If you want to know not only how but also why, you might well find this an enlightening read. There's also some practical advice on planning and editing your writing.

How do you motivate yourself when writing?

What do you find the most effective writing motivation technique?

See results

Motivational Tip for Writers 2

Use Visual Prompts

Books are wonderful things to read. You put them down feeling all fired up. Then you hit a challenge and your motivation can start to slip. Sometimes, what you need is a quick reminder of those clever ideas and tips.

A visual prompt can be a wonderful way to get past the doubts and right back on track with your writing. Choose the writing motivation poster or decal that is just right for you and put it right there on the wall above your desk, or in your writing corner.

Any time you need some encouragement, you need only glance up.

NOTE: A tip passed on by another writer -- move these visual prompts around occasionally. Otherwise you get so used to them that you stop noticing them.


Writing Motivation Tip 3

Don't Go it Alone!

Have you heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? It happens every November. During this one month, people all around the world commit to writing a short novel. This novel must be started and finished during the month.

Sounds crazy? That's part of the magic. When you focus on writing within a short deadline, you don't have time to worry that you are not good enough and that your writing sucks.

Not only that, but you are doing it alongside an ever-growing number of other people. Any time, day or night, that you decide to bash out a few more paragraphs of your novel, you will have the comforting feeling that other people are doing the same thing. If you want, you can get involved in the whole NaNoWriMo community, posting on their forums or going to a local meet-up.

How NaNoWriMo helps with Writing Motivation

I completed NaNoWriMo twice, both times in the early years when there were only ever a handful of people in my country taking part. But, like all great ideas, it has snowballed and is now HUGE. It's a fun way to rise to a challenge and at the same time have your very own support team cheering you on. If you want support, you've got it. If you need competition as writing motivation, you've got that too as you find a like-minded soul to have a wordcount race with.

From my own experience, NaNoWriMo works. And it's fun. You might not have a publishable novel at the end of it. You might have a good first draft. At the very least, you might prove to yourself that you can be a motivated writer with the right support and mindset.

But it's not November...

There's an 11 in 12 chance that you are NOT reading this in November. If you can't wait until the next November to roll around, find yourself a writing buddy. Make your own support team, and set your own deadline. Writing can be a lonely business and to tell the truth many of us writers like it that way. However, don't underestimate the motivating force of being accountable to someone.


Accountability is a word well worth repeating here. We are quick to let ourselves off the hook... had a bad day; the cat's sleeping on my desk chair and I don't want to disturb it; I've got a bit of a headache; the weather is all wrong for writing...

Somehow we buy our own weak excuses. It's a whole different story when you commit to a target by telling someone else. Find yourself an accountability partner you work well with and, instead of sitting around waiting for writing motivation to mysteriously arrive, you will find yourself generating that motivation.

Find Your Plot and Write a Draft Novel in 30 Days

No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days is the official guide to NaNoWriMo -- and the best!

I LOVE this book! The author, founder of NaNoWriMo Chris Baty, is full of fun, making this a highly-entertaining read that you'll want to finish in one sitting. I know I did. He'll equip you with "secret weapons" and "magical tools" to help transform writing a novel into something that is so enjoyable that you won't want to miss out. This is followed by a week-by-week guide to surviving a NaNoWriMo writing marathon.

There is some fantastic advice between these pages. I particularly like the way he guides you towards writing about the things that excite your interest, instead of writing about the things you think you ought to write about.

What Gets YOU Motivated to Write - Share your tips here!

Submit a Comment

  • Kristen Howe profile image

    Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

    Great hub! As an official Nano/Julno winner for 2007-2013, it surely does work. This would get anyone motivated to write, even in the off-season. Voted up for useful!

  • profile image

    beaugines 3 years ago

    ***** I am pumped up now. I will start writing and I will keep on reading your post especially laziness starts to creep. Keep on motivating others.

  • TerriCarr profile image

    TerriCarr 4 years ago

    Nice, well-rounded page. I love the wall posters. I never really thought of that. What works best for me is having a paid writing assignment with a deadline. Otherwise I am also always in search of ways to get myself to write regularly.

  • fionajean profile image

    Fiona 4 years ago from South Africa

    Very good ideas - I battle with writer's block all the time so I will be putting some of these into practise. I particularly like using a mural.

  • kathysart profile image

    kathysart 5 years ago

    Great thoughts. Sometimes I am up and sometimes not so much so this was a great read.

  • AlbertVang profile image

    AlbertVang 5 years ago

    I love talking a walk or sitting outdoors with my laptop. This usually gets the words flowing :) Sometimes, reading a lens like this also make me want to write and write and write!

  • ElizabethSheppard profile image

    Elizabeth Sheppard 5 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

    I love having a goal - and I am in NaNoWriMo this year to help. I loved the motivational posters on this lens. They're neat. ::::blessed::::

  • profile image

    nifwlseirff 5 years ago

    Finding a topic that gets me excited or annoyed, and then digging deeper to find more information. I struggle with keeping the motivation up though, procrastination is my worst enemy (along with feeling 'not good enough') A great choice of books there, I will check a couple of them out! Thanks!

  • profile image

    yogendrachavda 5 years ago

    your article/lens inspired me.. thanks for sharing

  • ryokomayuka profile image

    ryokomayuka 5 years ago from USA

    Inspiration, just being motivated, feedback, having fun while writing.

  • RadaFrancis LM profile image

    RadaFrancis LM 6 years ago

    Thanks for all of the tips

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @agoofyidea: Thank you and stick at it... you WILL be a published author if you can only do the work. Starting is the hardest part. I've found having an accountability partner works wonders. :)

  • profile image

    Hellus 6 years ago

    I am working on a 30-book series and I write every single day. I don't need the motivation because it's inside. The writing, itself, motivates me. Lately, depending upon what I'm writing, I've been averaging 8-16 pages per day--and that's roughly 4-8 hours' worth of writing. I am very focused and driven when I write, so that is why the numbers seem exaggerated. They're not. I already one book up on Amazon and I'm 264 pages into book 2.

  • agoofyidea profile image

    agoofyidea 6 years ago

    I get motivation from reading this lens. You have some great saying here. Today I start my first draft and mine alarm didn't go off so I am feeling down. Your quotes helped pick me up. I will be a published auther this time next year. Blessed.

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @Hellus: That's pretty impressive -- thanks for the inspiration!

  • Joan Haines profile image

    Joan Haines 6 years ago

    Taking a break and doing something completely different.

  • fionajean profile image

    Fiona 6 years ago from South Africa

    Must be honest, usually end up writing when deadlines are looming - am excellent at procrastination - right now, in fact, I have a lot of work to do and where am I? LOL. Great lens - Blessed

  • bames24 lm profile image

    bames24 lm 6 years ago

    I am mostly motivated by the sheer need to pay bills.... LOL... actually I love to write and I find writing to be a great way to earn money working from home (look Ma, no need to commute or buy office clothes!)... great lens.... :)

  • profile image

    organicgoofy 6 years ago

    I use a mixture of all of these. Sometimes, though, I have to set my work aside and let it sit for a while.

  • profile image

    PublishedAuthor 7 years ago

    Amazing pictures (besides content). Really motivating stuff!

  • profile image

    HowBoutThis 7 years ago

    my topic: seems simple but is often something profound - at least to me.


  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @aesta1: I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  • aesta1 profile image

    Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Inspiring articles especially the ones that are well crafted. Your lens is just that.

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @Wednesday-Elf: Why, thank you Elf! You are right, any kind of writing is a discipline, whether online content such as for Squidoo, articles, blogs, or full-length novels. If we write, and do so consistently and with attention to quality, then that makes us 'writers'... no need to publish the Great American Novel. And I bet even the Great American Novelists (or indeed novelists of any nationality) had trouble with motivation from time to time!

  • ajgodinho profile image

    Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I'm motivated when under pressure, but the right kind of I like to set realistic goals. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel and featured on Squid Angel Blessings by AJ**

  • Wednesday-Elf profile image

    Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

    What gets ME motivated? Inspiring lenses like this one! I don't have any plans to write a 'novel', but many of these motivational tips can be applied to Squidoo lenses. I don't lack for ideas -- just the motivation to 'begin' a lens. :) The Artist's Way I've seen and heard recommended many times.... and I have yet to read it. Now that I'm at my daughter's house (she has a copy of this book) I WILL read it! Love the poster 12.5 Writing rules! VERY well WRITTEN, my dear.

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @ajgodinho: Thank you so much AJ! Yes, pressure can be good, I like a deadline myself.

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @Rachel Field: Thanks for the book recommendation, Rachel. And best of luck with Nano 2010!

  • Rachel Field profile image

    Rachel Field 7 years ago

    I love No Plot, No Problem - I think this year will be my 5th Nanowrimo. Only have an inkling of what I'm writing so far.

    I love Natalie Goldberg's books for when I don't feel like writing - especially Writing down the Bones.

    OK, gotta go work on my 2006 manuscript - I have the deadline to get a finished manuscript by October 31st so it doesn't conflict with Nano.

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @VladimirCat: It's good to find an outlet for anger, Vladi. Though it's hard to imagine you needing motivation, you are such a natural writer.

  • VladimirCat profile image

    Vladimir 7 years ago from Australia

    Yes! I need motivation to write. Sometimes I think anger is my chief reason to put pen to paper or, rather, paw to keyboard

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @Peregrina LM: Thanks for the lensroll and hope you picked up something useful here!

  • Peregrina LM profile image

    Peregrina LM 7 years ago

    Very inspiring! I lensrolled it on my writing lenses.

    I'm writing a novel and it can definitely be hard going at times.

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @Gypzeerose: Thanks for a lovely comment, Rose! Yes, it's so much easier to self-publish these days.

  • Gypzeerose profile image

    Rose Jones 7 years ago

    Thanks for this lens, I am going to read it and reread it. Actually, as I get older I am more motivated to write - I actually have more to say, although I am not so convinced of who wants to read it! The Internet is great though - you can express yourself without worrying about rejection from publishers. (Thanks Squidoo, hubpages, blogger, wordpress.......) One of your new fans by the way. :)

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @KarenTBTEN: Thanks for sharing these insights, Karen, and for the kind words. You are a writer so many of us on Squidoo admire.

  • KarenTBTEN profile image

    KarenTBTEN 7 years ago

    I find motivation in the audience I write for. I'm always writing to share with someone, though it may well be one friend and not the world as a whole.

    I like to post or share small pieces that can eventually be wove into something larger. It can be practical as well as motivational to polish the little cameos along the way, as it's easier to publish a book when one has some lit journal pieces. Then the big goal is a little nearer.

    Great job with this!

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @anonymous: Hey, oh grumpy one, great to see you here. :) Not sure if you've completed / published any books but I know you're a writer. So go write...! ;)

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @sheriangell: Nothing worse than being in the middle of a wonderfully original sentence only to have the thread broken. Hate it. You have my full empathy. Noise cancelling headphones?

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @anonymous: Wonderfu, thanks Bev. Writing about things that interest you really is the easiest kind of writing. Writing with purpose is also important so my mission is to learn to combine them both. :)

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @anonymous: Well all I can say to that is that you always inspire me, and what's more your writing is in a 'foreign' (to you) language. How impressive is that! :)

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @grannysage: Ah yes, the highs and the lows of the writing life. When it flows, it's wonderful, when it sticks... not so good. Hope you get hold of a copy of The Right to Write, you'll already be familiar with Cameron's particular brand of inspiration. And thank you for the lensroll to a lens I admire!

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @jptanabe: Your writing is always a joy to read (in fact, there are many wonderful writers among those commenting here), but even when it looks effortless I guess we all do need a little push at times. I love those wall decals, short and to the point!

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @callinsky lm: Thanks Cindy! Love that you wanted to leave an angel blessing, hey that's every bit as good as actually getting one. :)

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @LadyFlashman: Thanks for sharing your motivation technique, Lucy -- all these wonderful comments inspired me to add a poll! Yes, Writing on Both Sides of the Brain is well worth a read.

  • profile image

    anonymous 7 years ago

    Great lens! You've motivated me to think about doing something - now if I can only decide what to do...

  • sheriangell profile image

    sheriangell 7 years ago

    I need quiet without any interruptions. Unfortunately in my home, that scenario alludes me too often. Great lens!

  • profile image

    anonymous 7 years ago

    I must say, you certainly have motivated me to write with this wonderful lens! And looks like I've got a couple of books that I should add to my shelves for some motivational help.

  • profile image

    anonymous 7 years ago

    Aaaargh! Writing... I definitely need inspiration... Now I know where to look for that!

  • profile image

    grannysage 7 years ago

    Some days are easier than others. Some days words just flow, other days they have to be pulled out kicking and screaming. I don't know what makes the difference. I hate it when the mood strikes in the middle of the night and I have to go to work the next day. Or the other extreme, I dedicate a weekend to writing, and then my mind goes blank. I have Julia Cameron's Artist books, maybe I need to check out the one for writing (makes note for self to look for it in the used book store).

    You know, if we have Squidoo lenses, we are all published authors. It doesn't have to be a novel. I think if I did a book, it would be a compilation of essays.

    Great lens......lensrolling to Granny Gets Her Groove Back.

  • jptanabe profile image

    Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

    Well reading this lens motivated me to write - the posters helped too of course!

  • callinsky lm profile image

    callinsky lm 7 years ago

    I love it. What a great way to break it down by personality. We are all motivated by different things. Finding that motivation is key. Rock and Roll. I wish I could bless it. (O;

  • LadyFlashman profile image

    LadyFlashman 7 years ago from United Kingdom

    I get writers block just writing a lens, so the task of writing a novel seems like a mountain to me! I find I get motivated through research, if the words dry up I read other people's work on the subject and that inspires me.

    I love the tips you offer in this lens and the book 'Writing on Both Sides of the Brain' sounds very good.

  • indigoj profile image

    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @clouda9 lm: Your writing is always fun to read, Correen, so it doesn't surprise me that you have fun writing! I love those times when the words fly. I just wish it always happened that way.

  • clouda9 lm profile image

    clouda9 lm 7 years ago

    On any given day it is hard to say what one thing motivates me to write. What I do know...if it is something that fires me up the words cannot fly out of my pen fast enough! Great writing motivations here on this page, thanks!


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