Working from home is hard. Especially when you aren't actually getting paid for it... I've been unemployed for a year now - which also means one whole year of blogging and trying to get back into writing - so I've figured out some ways that help me stay motivated.
Disclaimer; I'm awful at following my own advice and so often I stay in bed reading or binge-watching Netflix so trust me, I know how hard it can be to, as Nike say, just do it.
If, like me, you've spent a lot of time telling yourself that you will write The Novel (or do whatever productive thing you're avoiding) but just "not right now", you know how frustrating it is when you want to finally do it but just... can't. You've got too set in your ways of watching booktube or getting into twitter drama etc. You just need one more week to mentally prepare and then you can do it. No. You don't.
My downfall was "Oh, I can't start yet... I need to get *insert stationary I likely already own but want a brand new one for The Book*". I always had a reason to not start. Be it the middle of the week so I would start next Monday, or maybe it was a bit too cold to get out of bed. There's always an excuse but really the reason was fear.
I love writing. It's bloody difficult and stresses me out, but I love it so so much and I don't want to do anything else. Of course I'm terrified that I'll put all this work and energy into writing and have it rejected. I'm worried people will hate my writing and say I'm not good enough. I feel sick about the fact that I'm doing this on my own - I don't have a team, no one to give me notes for editing or someone to read it and provide criticism. It's up to me to write it, to edit and revise, and that is terrifying.
So... how do I motivate myself to do it? The answer is simple. I do it. I know, that sounds so unhelpful but it's true. I think about all the time I've spent not working and think of how far along I could be, about how I could possibly have been at submission point had I kept working and it really helps me get my ass in gear.
One thing I find particularly helpful is to keep a notebook purely for To Do lists. I make a 'weekly goals' list on a Sunday to set my sights for the week ahead. I don't keep this strictly writing related either; I might put down I want to read a certain book and reach a new level on Duolingo. I find having smaller things that I know I'll do anyway really help me to feel like I'm accomplishing my goals and it helps motivate me to complete everything on my list.
My daily to do's will detail what exactly I want done that day such as to get 100xp on Duo and to edit Chapters 2 and 3. Then it's just a matter of getting on with it.
Having other things in between my writing is great for when I get a bit frustrated and find I'm just staring at my WIP and doing nothing. Instead of getting more and more stressed about being unable to work on my manuscript I can take a break to do some french or reading etc and know I'm still accomplishing something off of my To Do list.
I really don't have much more to say than that. Writing is a habit. It's a very lonely process at times and it's so personal. You can scour the internet and ask every writer you know just how they do it, but the reality is you need to find your own way. We all have things that work for us and finding them is so so hard - I know, I'm still discovering my way of working every time I sit at my desk.
Just remember why you're writing. Don't focus on becoming published. Obviously that's the dream, to do what we love for a living, but to get there you have to do it for yourself. You have to do it without relying on deadlines to motivate you, without the money to allow you to do it full-time. It's hard. You're putting in so much work for what feels like nothing.
Cling on to the moments that fill you with joy when writing. Remember that feeling when the plot finally comes to you in full form, when you've figured out a scene, those moments when it's working, when it's 'easy', when all the frustration and thinking you're not good enough is finally worth it. Remember those moments, remember what writing does for you, how it makes you feel. Because that will only help you in the long run.
Most of all, never give up. I know I've wanted to chuck this manuscript a hundred times. I still do. It feels like I've made such a big mess of it that it isn't worth anyone's time, that it's too much effort to fix. But I've already put too much effort in to getting the skeleton of the story written. I can't give up. I need to do this story justice. Even if it sits in the documents folder for the rest of eternity, your story deserves to be told. Flesh it out, edit, revise, redraft. Do it for your characters. Do it for you, as a writer. If you spend time figuring out how to wade through your messy first draft now it will make it less daunting when you have to do it for an editor, an agent, or your publisher.
I suppose this has become more of a pep talk than a how to but I feel I needed to tell myself everything I just said. My current piece, TLYL, may never see the light of day. That's fine. Neither did my first manuscript. Don't write because you want it to be your job; write because you love it and hope that you will one day be lucky enough to call it your job.
But most of all - never give up. Write. Tell your story.