Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Whether you’re working on a short story, charging through NaNoWriMo, or writing the very article you are reading right now (that one only applies to me), you’ve got to find a way to motivate yourself to finish it. Some days, the words flow from your fingers like water. Other days, they—ooh, look, somebody posted a picture of their dog on Facebook! If you’re feeling burned out, I’m here to help you get fired up to get back to work.
- Set a regular schedule. To paraphrase Stephen King, the muse will visit you more often if she knows where to find you. Set a regular writing time for yourself. It makes the joy of creating new worlds and characters as much fun as a day at the office or going to school, except you’re doing it at 5 in the morning. (Though some people prefer evenings, when they’re already exhausted from their other responsibilities.)
- Jog your memory. Read what you wrote yesterday and challenge yourself to do even better today. Based on the fact that you’re reading an article on self-motivation, surpassing yesterday’s output should be a pretty easy bar to clear.
- Rekindle the romance. There’s something you loved about this project that made you want to exchange all of your free time for it, right? Think of your writing time like a date with your special someone. True, sometimes it feels like you’re dating a cruel taskmaster who inflicts constant pain on you, but some folks pay professionals lots of money for that type of experience.
- Misery loves company. There’s a Swedish proverb that says, “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.” Challenge others to a writing dash and see who’s the fastest to 500 words. Or, just for fun, each of you tells the other what you’re working on, then you try to write a scene in the other person’s book. Oops, you only wrote 300 words for the other person when they wrote 1,500 words for you. You’ll make it up to them next time, which might not be for a while, you’ve been pretty busy lately.
- Revenge. Use your writing time to enact your petty revenge fantasies. Is it small of you to write a thinly veiled version of your boss getting into a fatal car wreck the day after your mediocre performance review? Hard to say. Better blow up their car too, just to make sure.