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Finding the Motivation to Write

A friend of mine recently asked me, “How do you make time for your writing?”, and it really got me thinking:

How do I make time for my writing??

I decided to investigate a little, and it eventually came down to finding motivation, rather than making time. I studied the way I write, I researched it, and I even participated in a webinar focussed on mental energy and motivation (courtesy of a Crazy Writing Week prize, but still, the timing couldn’t have been better!). 

I put together my findings and created this post, in which I’ll cover some of the best tips and methods I discovered to help you find motivation and time to write.

Who is this post for?

Before we start, I’d like to clarify something. While I make mention of studies, schoolwork and family, this post is not just for students—the methods here are applicable and will be helpful to anyone who is willing to make a change to the way he or she currently goes about writing. If you’re wanting to make more time for writing and you’re willing to change your current lifestyle to accommodate that, this post is for you. 

Grab a cup of tea, bring a light snack, and let’s begin.

Finding the Motivation to Write

In this post we will cover:

Mental Energy

Finding the Motivation to Write: Mental Energy

Have you ever sat down to write, but, no matter how hard you try, nothing emerges? That’s because you don’t have enough mental energy. You won’t go very far if you don’t have the mental energy to write—even if you have all the time in the world. 

Mental energy is the stamina to engage in creative work. In this case, writing

In order to write well, you need mental energy. In some cases, your mental energy can be drained to the point where you won’t have enough for writing. 

There are a few factors you must consider: activities, time, environment, and socialisation. Depending on the kind of person you are, these factors will either drain or improve your mental energy.

  • Activities: which activities are things that uplift you and give you more energy?

  • Time: find a time where your mental capacity is at its best.

  • Environment: from a noisy coffee shop, to a quiet office, where are you most at home?

  • Socialisation: find out if socialising with others drains you, or uplifts you.

Your mental energy can either be drained or improved by these factors. It is important to study each one of these variables individually to discern what will provide you with a sufficient amount of energy and enthusiasm to write well.

Staying healthy

Finding the Motivation to Write: Staying Healthy

There are certain things that will always improve your mental energy, no matter what kind of person you are. The most important of these is to live a healthy lifestyle. This can be as simple as eating well, keeping consistent and appropriate sleep patterns, and regular exercise. 

Scientifically, your mental energy has a lot to do with your body’s levels of glucose

Glucose is the primary blood sugar and main energy source for your body’s cells. Having a healthy glucose level will improve your capacity to write and engage in creative work. 

This can be done by living healthily, sleeping well, and exercising regularly.

Setting goals

Setting goals for yourself to complete helps you to fully understand what you’re working towards, and where you need to go to get there. It doesn’t have to be anything grand—simple word goals are an excellent way to keep track of how you’re going. These can be word goals for the day, the week, or even the month. 

The key is to set yourself a goal that is challenging, but also realistic. 

For example, a daily goal of achieving 500 words is a good starting point. Anything closer to, or past, a thousand words will be difficult to achieve in one day consistently

The 500-word goal also means you cannot get away with skimping on writing just a few little words, as 500 words will require you to dedicate time specifically to reach that goal.

There are many different applications and programs that can help you to keep track of your word goals. The one that I primarily use is Word Tracker (currently available for iOS only). When you add a new project, it asks you to set a total word count for your project  and a date for when you want it completed (in my case, I chose 100k words and 20 June). From there, the app will automatically calculate a daily word goal for you. Every time you update your total word count after a writing session, you’ll see the completion percentage increase on a progress ring, for both the daily goal and the total goal. You can also view a line graph of your progress over time. 

Of course, wordcount-tracking apps are completely optional and not necessary, but they do help a lot if you like analysing statistics over time and having a visual reference to your progress. 

By having something to work towards, such as a word count goal, you’re already a big step towards finishing your writing project.


Let’s talk about deadlines. Some people hate them, some people love them. Yes, they’re controversial, but they are invaluable when it comes to motivation. 

Psychologically, deadlines motivate you to finish your project more than you might think. Your mind is trained to want to have a task completed before the due date, so your body will actually boost your mental energy levels to assist in accomplishing the goal before the deadline. 

The key to setting an efficient deadline is to challenge yourself, but to also be realistic. Give yourself an appropriate time frame that you can complete your writing project in, considering all the factors that can (and will) get in the way.

For example, if you use the 500-word daily goal, giving yourself a week to write 10k words is completely unrealistic (unless you underestimated how much spare time you have). The same goes with giving yourself three months to complete something that could only take a few weeks. Make sure you consider your time wisely, and that you factor in other priorities, such as work or study time. This will help you to stay motivated, but not overly stressed.

Removing distractions

Everyone—not just writers—is prone to distraction. And with social media and entertainment just the click of a button away, now more so than ever. Be sure to set aside time for yourself when you ignore that temptation and use that time to write. There are many programs that you can get to assist you in breaking away from the constant distraction, but these days most devices also come with focus sessions, which are excellent for just muting all notifications to help you stay focussed. 

I’ve begun using a software called Pause, a free web browser extension by the Freedom App. After entering your desired URLs, the program will slow down the loading time whenever you try to access it. This serves as an excellent deterrent for when you get distracted, but doesn’t entirely block the link for later times when you’re free to access it.

Writers can also be distracted by more worldly things too, such as interrupting family members, doorbells, dogs barking, leaf blowers, and of course much more. The key is to find a place where you can escape these distractions, or to completely remove yourself from the interruption, even if it’s just sitting quietly alone in a room with headphones playing the How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Hobbit soundtracks on full volume. 

Accountability groups

A lot of writers end up struggling because they don’t talk to others about their writing. This is such an important thing!! 

One reason some people don’t stick to their goals is because they don’t have anyone to keep them accountable. Having an accountability group—or accountability partner—is so important because it keeps us present; it means we have someone other than ourselves (and our teachers) to answer to. 

Find someone who can keep you accountable for your writing, or see if you could even find an online writing community that allows you to do the same thing. This will allow you to stay motivated to keep writing and to share your writing with others, and (hopefully) later, the world.


You can have all the time in the world to write, but you won’t get very far without the right motivation. Mental energy, goals, deadlines, and accountability groups are all key factors to staying motivated to keep writing. They’ll keep you focussed on the task at hand and, psychologically, these factors will encourage you to keep going.

But the only thing that will keep you fully motivated and writing at your highest capacity…is if you enjoy what you are doing. Find joy and excitement in your writing, and that is what will motivate you the most. You want to be eager to sit down at your desk to smash out that next chapter. 

At the end of the day, finding time and motivation for writing all comes down to enjoying the process.


written by Christopher J. Watt

Christopher J. Watt author

Christopher J. Watt is a passionate young South African writer now living in Australia. He has co-authored two historical fiction novels in the Epic Story of America series and is currently working on his own projects. When he's not writing, you can find him doing graphic design, drawing animals, film editing, or swimming. Find out more at


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