Some days (or weeks…or months) it feels impossible to motivate yourself to write.
Words don’t come easily.
Ideas get stuck in your head.
Nothing sounds right.
You’d rather pluck out your beautiful little eyeballs with a hairpin than try to bang out one more blog post.
I get it.
Writing is how we DO THINGS in online marketing. From emails to sales pages to website copy, your words keep your business running.
Not writing isn’t exactly an option. So you need a bag of tricks to motivate yourself to write and outsmart your blah mood.
Over the years, I’ve developed 7 go-to strategies to keep me moving on days that I really don’t feel like writing. (Yes, I totally get them, too!)
The next time you feel all Schmidt-ty about writing for your biz…
Give these strategies a try. They’re all proven to work for me in different ways and I know there’s at least one of them that can help you motivate yourself to write!
I’ll be 100% honest:
Written goals don’t really do it for me.
Some people can read their goals and get totally jazzed. They’re reminded of why they need to work hard and that’s enough to push them to get their butts into gear.
That’s not the case for me. I have goals, sure…but reading them alone doesn’t motivate me enough when I’m really not feeling it.
What does motivate me to write…
Is a visual representation of those goals.
I have a secret Pinterest board that has a bunch of images of what I want my biz and life to look like. It’s got an Aga stove with a dog curled up in front (thanks, Louise, for giving me that cozy visual!) It’s got beautiful fresh produce in cute Parisian market baskets. It’s got really happy kids, an elderly couple holding hands, and the softest, most beautiful cashmere sweaters. 😍
Looking at that board reminds me of the bigger reason WHY I’m doing what I’m doing — what all this hard writing work is leading towards — in an instant.
It kicks my butt into gear and pushes me to actually start writing…because the payoff is so worth the results.
Plus, I find it super helpful to engage different parts of my brain while writing. (We’ll dig deeper into this in a minute…) Layering in visual inspiration helps keep the ol’ noggin firing on lots of different cylinders, which helps big time with creative inspiration.
Say a writing prayer
I have a little prayer (under 60 seconds) that I say to re-center myself before writing.
It’s nothing fancy. It’s just saved in the notes app of my phone.
I don’t even know who I’m praying to, exactly — whether it’s God or creative muses or some version of myself? — but it’s such a powerful exercise to help me remember my purpose as a writer.
I’m real big on remembering who you’re writing for. Always. It’s kind of my #1 rule.
When you remember that you’re writing to a living, breathing human who needs your insight, who’s struggling with something that YOU can help them with, it just does something to your writing mojo.
It takes writing from something you have to do to something you want to do because of the difference you’re going to make. And that little shift makes a huge difference when it comes to motivating yourself to write.
To write your own writing prayer, simply write a few sentences reminding you of your purpose, of WHY you’re doing this work and who your writing will help, and save it in an easy-to-find spot.
(Would it be helpful to see my writing prayer? Leave me a comment if so and I’ll share it in a future blog post!)
Squeeze out 30
I’ve tried the Pomodoro Technique and at various points, I really like it. Some seasons it works, some seasons it doesn’t.
Right now, for me? It doesn’t.
But a strategy that always works is setting a timer for just 30 minutes.
All I need to do is write for 30 minutes. Once that timer goes off, I can stop if I want to.
Here’s the beauty of this trick…
The majority of the time, once I get in 30 minutes, I realize it’s not that bad. It’s flowing more than I expected, I’m enjoying it more than I thought, and I usually keep writing.
Sometimes I don’t want to keep going once I hit the 30-minute mark, and that’s okay, too. I’ve at least made some headway — which is all you can ask of yourself on days when you’re 100% not feeling it!
I know this strategy sounds simple — and it is! — but trust me, something about that 30-minute timer is pure writing magic.
Embrace the SFD
Something that I adopted a couple of years ago that has no joke revolutionized the way that I write is to embrace the concept of the SFD: the shitty first draft.
The hardest part of writing is going from 0 to 1 — from nothing to something…aka getting your first draft written.
When you’re going from nothing to something, that’s usually the point when you feel resistance and need to motivate yourself to write the most.
The basic premise behind the SFD? Give yourself permission for your first draft to completely suck.
Your first draft doesn’t have to be great. It doesn’t even have to be good or mediocre. It can be total, complete garbage. You don’t have to keep a single word of it if you don’t want to!
It just has to be written.
Instead of trying to write something brilliant (which keeps a lot of us stuck) make your goal to write as much as you can, as fast as you can. Get that SFD down on paper!
Most of the time, you’ll find your SFD is much better than you expect. And with a couple rounds of editing your copy, it’ll polish up just fine.
I find that giving myself permission to sit down (usually with a 30 minute timer!) to completely suck removes a ton of the resistance I’m feeling and makes it way easier to get going.
Speak your thoughts
Sometimes sitting down and typing on the keyboard, even for just 30 minutes, even with a shitty first draft, still feels impossible.
In those cases, I pull out my iPhone, turn on the voice recorder and talk through whatever I’m trying to write about.
Voice notes are such an underrated writing tool!! When you’re writing, sometimes it’s hard to get to the root of what you’re trying to say. It gets stuck somewhere between your brain and your fingers.
But when you’re talking, it seems to come more naturally.
The next time you can’t motivate yourself to write, pull out a voice recorder and start talking through your piece instead.
(A little look at how the sausage gets made? This is how I created the first draft of this blog post! 15 minutes of talking through my ideas, while tending to a pot of bone broth on the stove. #truestory)
Again, this is SFD quality that we’re looking for, nothing incredible. So just talk through a few of your ideas and the main points you want to make.
Then, you’ve got a few options:
1. Listen to your recording and take notes to put together your written first draft
2. Use a transcription tool, like:
I’ve used and like all three but Temi is my go-to.
Give this strategy a try next time you feel stuck and see what comes out!
Set the stage
One thing I’ve really been focusing on in my businesses lately is mixing business with pleasure.
We get to design our businesses any way we want…so why shouldn’t we layer some fun and enjoyment into the process?
What I love to do, especially when I’m not feeling very into writing, is to make my environment as comfortable as possible. I try to evoke as many senses as I can to keep my mind engaged and open.
I do four main things to up the ambiance and get into the writing groove:
1. Sit on the couch. (My FAVORITE pieces have come from early mornings on the couch!)
2. Burn a nice candle. (My go-to are Capri Blue jar candles from Anthropologie — worth every penny. Plus, hello, business expense!)
3. Brew a cup of Yorkshire tea, a tumeric latte, or strong black coffee.
4. Put some music on. 90% of the time it’s the Harry Potter soundtrack. (Lyrics are too distracting for writing, right?) I also love the Noizio app, which I use a lot if I’m in a public coworking space.
Taking five minutes to set the mood and make your environment more comfortable can really help the ideas flow more freely.
Write buzzed, edit sober
I will deny I gave you this advice, if pressed…
But sometimes, a drink can do wonders for your writing.
Now, notice I didn’t say five drinks. Just sit down with one (maaaaybe two) of your tipple of choice and get to work on your rough draft.
When all else fails, a little drinkie-poo can help you loosen up and stop judging yourself enough to write that SFD. Plus, it adds some fun into the mix and we’re all about mixing business with pleasj, right?
Here’s the key, though:
You ALWAYS want to edit 100% sober. When you put your editor’s hat on, you want to have a very clear and keen mind.
Lesson learned the hard way…
I once sent out my Friday morning email on a Wednesday afternoon, after treating myself to one (ONE!) happy hour negroni while working at the Chicago Athletic Association.
So, yes, few sips of somethin’ can get you un-stuck and help you be more creative with your SFD. Just make sure you’ve buffered in time to edit and double-check your work with a clear head before you share it with the world. 😉
So there you have it! Those are my seven strategies when I’m really, really not feeling like writing.
When you find yourself stuck and can’t quite motivate yourself to write, try one (or more) of these strategies. After all, it only takes ONE go-to tip to change everything.
join the convo
Which of these strategies are you most excited to try?
How else do you motivate yourself when you (really) don’t feel like writing?
And just for fun, what TWO images would you put on your “goals” Pinterest board to remind you why you should write? (An Aga cast iron stove and cozy cashmere sweaters are my go-tos!)