Wattpad Creator AJ Arnaultl (@ajArnault) has been writing on Wattpad since 2019. Some of her popular stories include Sailing West and Riding South. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Wattpad corp. or affiliated companies.
What motivates a writer to write
As writers, we spend a lot of time in our own heads, creating rich characters and worlds for readers to fall in love with. We start a story, excited to put our ideas on the page when… Life happens. For many of us, writing isn't our only identity. We are students, community members, parents, employees,—the list goes on and on. We set our writing aside to take care of other important things.
With everything going on, it can be challenging to stay motivated to write. Perhaps the important people in your life aren't supportive of your craft, or perhaps you're emotionally drained after taking care of your family.
Sometimes it can be tough to stay motivated to write when it feels like you're just screaming words into a void that no one is even reading (or is that just me?). And then we have to find the time and energy to market our writing on social media, network with other writers, study our craft, and read new fiction.
Writing isn't just a skill we learned in school, folks! It's a full time job! One that can feel very one-sided and difficult to maintain if you aren't getting millions of reads on your story.
So, what do you do? How do you stay motivated to write?
Dr. Angela Wood, a certified instructor in Motivational Interviewing, says three elements make up motivation: Awareness of the problem + Importance + Confidence and Hope. Let's unpack this definition of motivation and see how it can be applied to busy writers.
Awareness of the motivation problem
As a busy mom of four and a graduate student, I'm inundated with people and problems that require my attention. I love and care about my family and school work, but I also have a burning desire to write stories. The only problem with writing stories and not being a full-time writer is that writing takes a lot of time. If you're anything like me, you may struggle to balance writing and well, everything else.
As cheesy as it sounds, naming the problem is the first step.
Here's mine: I don't have time to write.
The next step is that I need to tackle this false statement that I've just made. I do have time to write. It just isn't always ideal writing conditions. Sometimes I get an hour to write in bed before everyone wakes up or fifteen minutes while standing at the bus stop waiting for my daughter to come home from school. These bits of time aren't perfect. I'm not secluded in a cozy cabin in the woods like Hemingway, sipping tea and pondering plot. But I do have time.
AJ's Tip: Instead of saying, "I don't have time to write." Tell yourself, "I get to write for fifteen minutes after accomplishing a required task." Or however long you can afford between events. Try to speak to yourself in a positive way instead of negatively.
Importance of motivation
Now that we have identified our problem, it's time to discuss our goal's importance. For me, writing is more than an obligation or a hobby. It's a passion. Telling stories on Wattpad has brought me joy, friendship, confidence, and an outlet to grow my craft (plus earn money) as a writer. Writing ranks pretty high on my list of important things. It's my goal to become a full-time author.
But I haven't always been a writer. I majored in Geography and spent over a decade in the military. Now I’m working on my Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. I had to communicate with the people in my family about how much I value writing. Expressing how valuable writing is can also alleviate misunderstandings.
AJ's Tip: If the important people in your life aren't particularly supportive despite communication, find a writing friend (or two!). There are some great book clubs, writing groups, and mentorship programs on Wattpad to help hype you up when you feel alone. I'm a part of Bootcamp Mentors (@Bootcampmentors), and there are resources galore on our page, along with a supportive Discord channel.
Now that you've identified how important writing is, think about what gets in the way. As humans, we are wired to make the easy choice–which is why change is so difficult. We do things that make us feel good in the moment, especially when we feel overwhelmed. Perhaps you decide to watch television, go out with friends, or make brownies instead of writing, even when you have the time. Remember how important this goal is to you, and surround yourself with a hype squad to keep you on track.
AJ's Tip: Even if you only take advantage of that extra time a couple days a week, celebrate it as a success instead of getting down on yourself. That time spent making brownies might've spurred a new idea in your WIP!
Confidence and hope in your writing
Dr. Wood asserts that you are more likely to be successful if you are confident in your ability to change. If you don't have much confidence that you can find the extra time to write despite a busy schedule, that's okay! You can work on your self-confidence by naming some things you do well as a writer. Maybe you are awesome at character development, or your world-building is amazing. Perhaps you can make great covers and do eye-catching aesthetics. Whatever you're good at, celebrate it!
AJ's Tip: We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to self-confidence. Try saying one nice thing about your current WIP before sitting down to write. One thing that I regularly do is reread the last chapter I wrote and find a line I’m particularly proud of. This also serves the purpose of marketing my story, because I’ll use this line to make a social media graphic!
Staying motivated to write can be challenging, especially when there are so many important activities and people vying for our attention. My hope is that after reading this post, you feel more confident about your ability to stay motivated. You got this!
That's all the motivational tips I have for now! I hope to see you around Wattpad. Happy writing.
- Wood, A. (2020). The motivational interviewing workbook: Exercises to decide what you want and how to get there. Rockridge Press.