From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Keeping Motivated Between Boosts

Every once in a while, something happens that validates your efforts. Like sign posts, they tell you you're on the right path.

You finish your novel.
You get a short piece accepted by a literary magazine.
Your university gives you a creative writing scholarship.
You place in a creative writing competition.
You get a positive, personalized rejection or sample request from an agent.

These moments are great. They are like water in a desert.

However, I've been realizing more lately that to really find success, motivation has to come from a place that's a lot deeper and a lot more internal. If we rely only on these kinds of circumstantial boosts, however important and lovely, we may run dry. We can't control when these things are going to happen, and if we're going to have consistent and long-term success, we need to be motivated and productive in the between times too.

It's hard, though. I feel like the boost moments can bring your end goal into sharper focus, make it feel more concrete, and going for a long time without them makes it feel fuzzy and so far away. That can spell death for ambition and motivation. Or at least put pressure on your reserves of strength.

So how do you keep going when it feels like you're on empty? I've found that talking with writer friends really helps to keep each other motivated. They know what I'm going through and their excitement can be contagious. Its also important to keep focused on the project at hand and let the writing itself be exciting and important and motivating. Because it is.

Sometimes I think it comes down to simply just doing it. Make a schedule for writing, submitting and networking. A little bit every day, even when its not fun, not exactly what you want to be doing, even when you'd rather be sitting on the couch watching Animal Cops.

The cool thing is, after a while of powering through on empty, that's exactly what will get you to your next boost.

Sarah Allen


  1. I've learned to keep my life and my identity diversified. I am a writer. But I'm also a mom, a wife, a friend, a reader, an exercise, spiritual. I also think investing in my health-- how I eat, working out, getting outside in the sunshine, even if I'm bundling up, helps keep the tank from running empty. Still, there are definitely times when my writing resources feel in a funk (wrote about that today in my blog, as a matter of fact).

  2. I do a lot of self talk. Who else will cheer you on when no one else will?

    Hugs and chocolate,

  3. A good support group of other writers certainly helps.

  4. It's true - motivation has to come from the inside, not outside. Sometimes just doing it is the only thing we can manage. :)


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