Politics, headlines, social media — it’s a lot to deal with as a writer.
It’s hard to stay focused. You think you’re ready to start your day writing and then a tweet sends you into a death spiral. Before you know it, you’re chasing trends again out of the fear of missing out.
You don’t write what’s in your heart. You write what everybody else is writing. You want to bottle some attention for your precious self. Attention is the currency and the addiction.
Who ever thought we would see a social media post be censored — not me. Right and wrong can be governed my tech company overlords. Are they evil?
Probably not. They’re allowing the consensus to remain mainstream. But what happens when the consensus is wrong? What happens when it becomes all about who is right and who is wrong rather than a difference of views that, when combined, lead to progress not ruin?
Writing through these unorthodox times is hard, but possible. Here’s how.
Do the opposite of everybody else
If everybody is talking politics, then don’t.
It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re writing about what everybody else wants.
Write about what you want to write about. You know the potential of your words better than anybody. When you write about trends you quickly become bored. Plus, as a reader, when you open your favorite blogging platform and its full of stories all about the same thing, how do you feel?
I feel tired and bored. I vigorously scroll through all the content looking for outliers. Looking for those strange people who dare defy the trends and live in a bubble. A writer’s bubble acts like a reader’s escape.
Many of us feel like teleporting out of this year and into a new year. It’s natural. I used to be an anti-news guy. Now, not watching the news is bad for your health. You have to be addicted to news to keep your family safe. That’s why many readers are desperate for an escape and it’s a strategy to stay motivated as a writer.
Provide an escape through your writing.
Write a lot
Half the time I don’t feel like writing either.
I find writing a lot helps. When you frequently change topics your writing brain keeps ticking away. For every ten duds you write, you may write one good one. You only need to write one good article occasionally. Not everything you write will be a hit and that’s the point.
You lose motivation when you stop writing. Keep writing to stay motivated. Then you’ll find your writing swag again.
Focus on how you can be helpful
Your writing has value through your ability to be helpful.
If you’re not motivated to write, reframe the act of writing. Don’t sit down to write. Sit down to be helpful by laying out the process for doing something.
It’s easier to be motivated to write when your goal is to be helpful. It takes YOU out of the equation. Helpful writers tend to do better than writers who are in love with themselves. In-love-writers haven’t got time to be helpful. They’re too busy seeking attention and screaming into an echo chamber. That doesn’t have to be you.
Selfless writing is helpful writing.
Selfless people change the world.
Phone a writer friend
In my case, I whatsapped writer Michael Thompson. He gave me two topics to write about. Both were topics I would never have chosen. I threw a headline back over the fence to him.
Vibing with other writers helps you break the barriers of your mind that destroy your writing motivation. You may have no idea what to write about. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can help you.
When you can’t help yourself, let a writer friend help you.
It’s for this reason that I shout from the mountain tops “join a heavily curated, respectful, professional, non-toxic writer’s group as soon as you can.”
Writing can be lonely. Writer friends remind you we’re all in this together.
Chill out from the stats page
Writing is hard enough. The stats page makes it harder amigo.
Refreshing your stats doesn’t make your writing better. Your stats don’t hold any clues to your writing motivation — or worse, your writing failures. Your writing stats are a distraction for doing the real work.
You’re doing the best writing you can — remember that.
Be outlandish and change topics
I am not motivated to write today. And I’m writing.
I normally write about personal finance, careers, entrepreneurship, self improvement, or blogging. Today I’m going to write about a brand new topic. I’m going to pick a topic that is risky and that everybody tells me not to write about. Why?
New topics spark new writing motivation.
Fellow writer, Nat Eliason, said this:
If you’re thinking “ehhh maybe I shouldn’t write about that” then you should probably write about it. Most people are playing it safe with their content. Have an opinion and write something more interesting.”
This bit of advice from Nate sparked new-topic-joy in me. The feeling of newfound joy is excellent writing motivation.
Dare to write about a brand new topic.
It’s a strange time in the world. Strange times make for good writing though. Now more than ever there are people who are wanting to be helped, through the superpower of organizing your thoughts in the form of writing, and sharing them to anybody who might need them.
You don’t need to focus on the writing. You need to focus on ways you can regain your writing motivation in case the world narrative falls off a cliff for a while and distracts you from your work.
If all else fails, aim to inspire people with your writing and you’ll have just enough motivation to keep going.