The biggest challenge as a writer is to keep writing.
I should know. I’ve been writing for six years straight. I publish an average of ten full-length blog posts a week, plus around fourteen social media posts a week. Am I special? No. Gifted? No. Hardworking? Sometimes. This topic is close to my heart. Many of my close writer friends are burning out. They’re giving up. Writing less. Blaming the platform they choose to write on.
Writing is hard. It’s not easy to be a writer despite what the laptop lifestyle bloggers tell you. I’m here to tell you that you’re doing just fine.
My big secret: I lose my motivation to write all the time. All writers do, so you’re not alone. Here’s how to keep writing and get inspired again.
Transform your writing process entirely
A formulaic writing process can become boring — for both you and the reader. If you want to reinvent yourself as a writer then create a new writing process. Create multiple writing processes. Here are a few writing processes you can use:
- Use a tweet as an idea for a story.
- Write the ending first.
- Write the headline, skip the intro, and go straight into your subheadings/main points.
- Write with zero formatting.
- Write with lots of images in your story.
- Start with an image, not a headline. Let the image guide you to write the story instead of the headline.
- Phone a writer friend and tell them to give you three topics.
Your writing process is what you can change to regain motivation again. You don’t need to quit writing. You just need to get out of your comfortable writing zone.
Upset the traditional gatekeepers of the writing world
The writing industry is full of a lot of old school people living in pre-internet times.
These folks have strange ideas about how content should look, or what rules a headline must follow, or what is good content and what is bad content. The best motivation for writing again is to defy these perfect literary critics and their fancy six-figure university degrees.
I’m worse than a high school drop out. No university would ever let me in because I would lack the discipline to ever do the homework like the good little church boy my grandma hoped I’d be. I’ve failed at seven separate startups. I’ve survived a near-miss with cancer.
There are no rules when it comes to writing on the internet. Grammar and spelling rules are made to be broken by bloggers trying to be the next Mark Mason with an F-Word in their book title. Maybe you feel like you’ve fallen from grace as a writer because you’re letting the critics and old school folks of the writing world get to you.
Here’s a huge lesson I learned: the people who keep trying to tell you how to write are mostly failed writers.
Failed writers, who will never write anything remarkable, can only live with themselves by making other writers’ lives hell. It’s not you. It’s them. Write what you want. Break the rules. Don’t water down your writing to pleasure a critic who will never respect you no matter what you do.
Dare to write a listicle
People say listicles are cheap. I love listicles and so do readers. Listicles are an easy way to organize and share thoughts. Commit a crime against humanity and write a listicle. I double dare you to!
Change where you write
Writing platforms unintentionally make you write differently. The disciplined restraint of Twitter with its 280 character limit is beautiful. The dryness of a career based writing platform like LinkedIn will force you to be creative beyond desk-bound office work.
The freedom of your own WordPress blog will make you say things you never thought you’d say because the chance of someone you know reading it is highly unlikely.
When you get bored with writing, start writing on a different platform.
Repurpose your content
Content your write on one platform can be used on another. Each writing platform has its nuances. I take full-length blog posts and turn them into tweet threads. You can too. Don’t be afraid to steal from yourself.
Rewrite your old content
What you wrote a year ago won’t come out the same. I wrote about waking up at 4 AM every day a few years ago. I look back and read that story now and laugh. I was such an immature asshole. If you’re lacking motivation, write a new version of an old story. Let this month’s thinking be added on to a story from a year or more ago.
Each phase of your life causes you to write about a topic differently. My friends, Anthony Moore and Danny Forrest, both write differently now that they’re fathers. What I write as a committed man in a long-term relationship — compared to the reckless, out of control single guy who was drunk every night — is far different. If I tried waking up at 4 AM nowadays my girlfriend would slap me back to sleep again.
Write your best stories again. Because you’ll never write the same story the same way again.
Stop writing about yourself and write about someone else
Writer, Shannon Ashley, shared this tip. I love it. If you always write about yourself then try writing about someone else.
Take a famous story from history and rewrite it with modern-day relevance and solid takeaways. Or interview somebody over Zoom and collect their top pieces of advice. Or take video/audio and convert it into a written story that has helpful tips for a reader.
Writing about yourself can be exhausting. Give yourself a break from writing about yourself.
Switch the headline and the subtitle — Magic!
Simple is spectacular. If you want to change up your headlines then switch your headline and subtitle. Or take the last sentence of your story and make it your headline. You can even take a popular highlight from an old story and make it the headline of a new story. Social proof makes your writing better.
Write even when you don’t feel like it
Cheat: count the emails you reply to as writing.
Nobody wakes up every day feeling like they want to write. The hack I use is just to start writing something, even if it’s boring. Once you start writing you find your flow and get back in the game. *Not* writing is when you lose motivation.
Get new writer friends
If you want to lose writing motivation quickly then drown yourself in a cesspool of Facebook writing groups that tell you you’re an idiot and need to follow trends and blame social media platforms for your flaws.
Writers are quick to tell you what you can’t be. They rarely tell you what you can be. I believe you can do whatever you want with your writing. You can build a 7-figure business from writing like Benjamin Hardy did, all by yourself, if you want to.
Trade in your current writer friends if they are bringing you down. Or leave writing groups for a while and be alone with your laptop and your thoughts.
The writers you admire do it tough too
I’m surrounded by writers you might think are effortlessly awesome. Have you seen Niklas Goke? The guy can’t write a bad story if he tried. Here’s the secret about the writers you admire: they’re doing it tough.
They have a lot more bad days than you think. Other writers think I’m some sort of one-off freak of nature. They think I never have a bad writing day. I do all the time. So do the writers you look up to. Let me butcher a famous Ian Maclaren quote (sorry old mate Ian) and rewrite it:
Remember that every writer you read is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Share the story you’re scared to write about
If you feel unmotivated as a writer then you can go to the next level of writing. You reach the next level of your writing by writing the story you’ve been too scared to share. I have many stories like this: my short run-in with religion, my secret bitcoin habit that could have me banned from traditional finance, and the failed relationships I destroyed.
Write what scares the shit out of you. That’s how you level-up.
Give yourself a break — you’re doing just fine
Don’t worry if your views are down. Don’t worry if the money you earn from writing has halved. Don’t worry if your number of new followers has dropped off. Don’t worry if your email list is shrinking faster than the size of a Big Mac.
Take a chill pill. You’re doing fine as a writer. Putting thoughts into words and sharing them online isn’t easy. It takes courage to do what you do.
Your self-worth is measured by the number of viral articles you write. Your bank balance from writing doesn’t make you better than another writer. All that separates you from another writer is your willingness to share the story — the whole story — in all its glory.
No writer wakes up with enormous writing motivation every day and a folder full of viral headlines ready to make them richer than Bill Gates. Writing is hard. That’s the fun part. The way you win the writing war is to remember this:
You’re writing against yourself.
Just beat your writing by 0.1% each day by changing things up.