If you are an aspiring writer, it is likely that you have struggled with having the motivation or the drive to carry a story through to completion. Oh, sure, starting is often easy; an unusual dream or fanciful idea sparks our imagination and, in a flurry of inspiration, we scrawl or tap out a story bit. As the initial excitement fades, so, often, does the drive or energy to finish the story. Where can we, as writers, get the energy/drive/motivation we need to complete the stories? For me, it boils down to one thing. External motivation. Yes, it may be true that mature individuals no longer need external motivation because the joy of doing the task itself is sufficient incentive. Personally, I work much better if someone asks me about my progress and will actually care if I don’t finish.
There are a number of ways to arrange to have external pressure. My three favorite external motivators are NaNoWriMo, attending a local writing group, and having writing buddies.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that you have one month, November, to write a 50 000 word novel. It doesn’t matter what you write. All that matters is that it is original (you made it up), you write it in the month of November, and it totals 50 000 words. The interactive website has a large forum and a word count utility/progress bar so that you, and everyone else, can see how you’re doing. Everyone who reaches the 50 000 word goal wins! Prizes are given to all the winners! I highly recommend NaNoWriMo to every aspiring writer.
Local Writers’ Group
Having a local writing group that meets together for writing challenges and for bragging about your latest projects is an excellent way to fuel the writing fires. Search online and at the local library for writers’ groups in your area. If there doesn’t appear to be any, why not start one? The locals in my area started a writing group after the 2010 NaNoWriMo. We met each other on the NaNoWriMo forums in the NaNoWriMo Regional Lounges.
Another key external pressure ingredient is to have a writing buddy or partner. In fact, it is a good idea to have at least three. A writing buddy is someone that you contact daily and talk about how the writing is progressing. Writing buddies can also help you brainstorm ideas and edit your work. These buddies can be from your local writers’ group or your facebook friends, or you can find a writing buddy at the AW forums.
Not Too Much Pressure!
Although I find external pressure to be very helpful in motivating me to write and to produce quality finished stories, too much pressure can cause the creative juices to freeze up and bring the writing to a standstill. I have had two experiences so far where I orchestrated too much external pressure for myself. One time, I tried to co-write a short story with someone I deeply respect. It was a spur of the moment thing and we were going to write the story right then and there. The other time a friend, whom I also deeply admire, suggested a friendly little writing challenge. We would each write a similar story and compare work. I found both activities to be quite paralyzing. Both times writers’ block struck with a ferocity that I rarely experience! Upon later reflection, I realized that I didn’t give myself sufficient time to complete these challenges. For me, one week is sufficient time to write a good short story. One day is not.
So, if you’re an aspiring writer who needs more incentive to get things done, sign up for NaNoWriMo, join a writers’ group, and get some writing buddies! Happy writing!