Briana Morgan asked: "Do you think you could write a post about motivation and self-discipline while working from home? Some days I find it hard to even get dressed, let alone write."
Sure thing. Let's see here.
WHY DO YOU WRITE?
If you answer this question with "I want to get famous" or "I thought writing books would be sexy" or "If E. L. James can rake in millions, why can't I?" or "I really don't know what else to do with myself," then you better quit writing and do something else. In fact, quit reading this post. You will hate the rest of what I have to say. If, however, writing is something that is a relief to what you can't control, to this pressure in your gut that pushes and prods and aches to get out, then, by all means, continue reading and ask yourself this. If you could do anything in the world, for pleasure, what would it be? If writing isn't your immediate answer, I can't help you. The rest of this post is dedicated to those who are diseased with the curse of I-can't-shut-up-so-I-write.
BUILD A ROUTINE AND STICK TO IT.
I think I have blogged about this numerous times, foaming at the mouth, harping at you one word and one word only. Routine. Routine. Routine. You are the only one who knows your best times and your worst times. Sit down and think about all those days when you produced a ton of words, when it felt like flying. When was it? Where was it? What time of day? What place? How were you dressed? What happened before, what happened after? What did you eat? What did you drink? Who did you talk to (or not)? What did you read. In effect, paint a picture of that moment and try to recreate it. Make a list. For example:
- Time: when normal people sleep, about 2 a.m. in the morning.
- Place: under my bed, for no reason at all.
- Dress: a set of pajamas that really needed washing.
- Food: cold pizza (don't you dare judge me).
- Drink: vodka, baby, what else?
- People: yelled at my neighbor, finally giving him my piece of mind.
Whatever it is, try to see a pattern. Do you work best at night? In the morning? Naked? Drunk? Sober? After watching 2 hours of retro European porn? Whatever it is, make it your routine, if you can, within reasonable limits, of course. I mean, you don't want to live off of left-over pizza, do you?
WRITE EVERY DAY.
Whatever your situation is, try to carve out at least an hour to write every day. Write on your phone while commuting, scribble in a journal under the table at team meetings (make sure your boss doesn't see), trade in your TV time for typing, etc. Make it a daily habit. Once you build it, it will become second nature. You will stop being afraid of it, because it will be simply a part of your daily life.
WRITE EVERY TIME YOU FEEL AN INTENSE EMOTION.
Instead of venting to friends or on Twitter or to a cashier in a local grocery store (gazing into his uncomprehending eyes), vent on paper. Try it. You will be astounded at the material you will produce. The idea here is to capture your feelings into a vessel of sorts instead of dispersing it into dust. When you concentrate on it and dwell in it, you will eventually exhaust it into words and have a short story written, or a poem, or a blog post, or a letter. Whatever it is, the goal of this exercise is to build a habit, again.
HAVE A WRITING PLACE THAT HELPS YOU SHUT OUT THE WORLD.
It doesn't need to be fancy. It can be a closet with a dest. It can be simply a pair of headphones to cut out the noise. Whatever it is, it should be the place where nothing distracts you. No phone calls, no emails, no people interrupting you. It takes me about 30 minutes to get back to my place of concentration every time I'm interrupted. I don't know how universal this number is, but I assume it will be a similar one for you. Eliminate this risk, and you won't have to force yourself into writing when your mind is scrambled, because it won't be.
PICK A SUPPORT BODY.
By body I mean, one person or several. it could be a family member, it could be a writing group, I could be former girl scouts from your younger years who have no clue about what it is you write but are very good at cheering you on. It could be even your Twitter followers or some other online crowd. Tell them daily about your progress. Put up a NaNoWriMo word meter on your site and post your progress there. The idea is to get into a continual production mode and motivate yourself by your desire to share. Share what you have achieved. If you have someone supporting you, you will want to show them that you can do it. If you're writing in a vacuum, you might give up simply because there won't be anyone to push you forward when you feel down.
EMPTY YOUR LIFE.
We all have too much shit on our plates, and we're the ones piling it up higher and higher. If you're tired and overwhelmed, no matter how hard you try to make yourself write, you will fail. Your mind and your body won't listen to you. They are not in thinking mode, they are in surviving mode. Unless you have mental space to percolate your ideas, your effort will be short-lived. Such simple things like sleep and diet and exercise and people you surround yourself with can play a major role on your motivation. If you're a dead horse, no amount of kicking will rouse you, right? And if you have no space for writing because of your five jobs or eleven kids or twenty three pet parrots you have to take care of, well, make a choice. It's either them or your writing. Perhaps your writing will have to wait until you shove all those brats into college, or perhaps one wintry night you will throttle them in their sleep and type up a best-seller while in prison. But I'm getting carried away here...
Above all, don't worry about your writing being perfect. It won't be. It will take many rewrites and many years, so relax. Just write. You might be reluctant to do it because you're afraid it will suck. Let me release you from this fear. Yes, it will suck! All writing does at the beginning! Unless you've been doing it for a long time and do a ton of thinking before writing anything down, but even then your first effort usually needs to be revised. So, let go. Imagine you will die tomorrow. Suddenly you don't care about what anyone will think, right? Good. Maybe watch a video of some horrendous disaster every day to scare yourself into writing.
WEAR THE RIGHT SOCKS.
Naturally, this is the most important piece of advice I could give you. Wear the right fucking socks.