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The Writer's Life > Inspiration & Creativity > Writing a Novel? How to Stay Motivated

Writing a Novel? How to Stay Motivated

I found a great article about writing a novel on The Independent. Here’s the best of the tips on how to stay motivated – I tweaked them to apply to writers who need a boost. If you’ve ever felt rejected by publishers, literary agents, or even your writing group, you need to learn ways to keep your motivation levels high.

“Don’t just dream about pursuing your passion,” says attorney Pamela Samuels Young, author of Anybody’s Daughter. “Make it happen!” You CAN make your dream of writing a novel come true. You CAN bounce back after getting rejected by publisher and literary agents, after feeling like a failure, even after tossing your first book in the paper shredder.

These strategic and practical ways to stay motivated while writing a book will help – even if you’ve lost interest in your fiction characters. They will help you recover from the dejection of getting rejected as a writer, because they’ll help you schedule your writing time.

Maybe the first book or article you wrote was rejected by literary agents, publishers, and even your mom. These tips for writing a novel will help you bounce back and keep writing, even after rejection and disappointment.

Below are Young’s tips for writing a novel. She wasn’t specifically talking about how to stay motivated after you get rejected as a writer; I’m adding that because all novelists get rejected – even the most famous published authors!

Make writing a book part of your daily schedule

“On my calendar, you’ll find a few hours or full days blocked out as ‘Writing Time’ every week,” Young says. “You have to schedule time for your passion. If you don’t, the day-to-day demands of life will get in the way.”

Scheduling a routine will free your creativity. Don’t waste energy trying to decide if you should write today; instead, plan to write every day at 7 am.

Put your passion for writing a novel ahead of your free time

If you’re serious about getting published (or just writing a novel for yourself), you need to sacrifice your pleasure time.

“You’ll have to cut back on watching television, socializing with friends and even family time,” Young says. “Explain your goals to friends and family. People who have your best interests at heart will support you. But do take an occasional break to relax. Otherwise, you’ll burn yourself out by working around the clock.”

If you’ve found the best tip for staying motivated is to envision success, read How to Predict if Your Novel Will Be Popular.

Learn how to stay motivated from other novelists

Yes, you need to write alone…but you should also connect with other people writing a novel. Young suggests signing up for writing newsletters, reading books about getting published, and join communities of writers. “There are tons of professional groups whose sole function is to help their members develop their creative talents and business goals. This is how you stay motivated.”

how to stay motivated writing a novel
Writing a Novel? How to Stay Motivated

Young is a member of Sisters in Crime, an organization that promotes the advancement of women mystery writers. “Not only will you get energy and inspiration from networking with others, you’ll grow.” This is especially important if you’re writing a book after being rejected by agents and publishers, because you may feel vulnerable and alone.

Joining a community of writers is a great way not only to learn how to stay motivated, but also insider secrets such as the reasons manuscripts are rejected and how to get published.

But, ultimately, motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, it will burn very briefly.

Don’t abandon your day job

This is an interesting tip for writing a novel, especially after you’ve been rejected by literary agents or publishers: Give your day job 100 percent.

“I never want my co-workers to think I’m phoning it in because I also have a writing career.” And, she says, this attitude and strong work ethic has paid off for her. “I have a strong support system at work. My co-workers read my books, critique my manuscripts and come to book signings.”

Many of the people Young thanks in the acknowledgements in each of her books are co-workers. Take heart if you’re stuck in a day job, for one day you will be thanking your coworkers in the forward of your book. That’s how to stay motivated: keep your eyes on the prize.

If you’re having trouble writing your first draft, read How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson. He shares 10 steps that jump-start your creativity and help you quickly map out your story. All around the world, novelists are using the Snowflake Method to ignite their imaginations and get their first drafts down. This book will show you how to define your “target audience” the right way, so you know exactly how your ideal readers think and feel. You’ll learn how to get inside the skin of each of your characters – even your villain. Writing novels isn’t all fun and games; you’ll learn how to stay motivated if you learn the craft.

writing a novel how to stay motivated

If you want to write your book, you need to learn how to be a good writer. You don’t have to be a perfect writer or a literary genius, but you definitely have to know how to write well.

How Do You Motivate Yourself to Write? Your big and little comments are welcome below.


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4 thoughts on “Writing a Novel? How to Stay Motivated”

  1. Happy Retirement, Michael! I doubt you’ll retire from writing though. Am I right, or am I right? 🙂

    And thanks for your tips for staying motivated while writing a novel…I have so much admiration for writers who can churn out a captivating, well-written book without the immediate gratification and motivation that writing a blog post brings.

  2. All great tips, but the bottom line for me is that I’m writing it because I can’t do otherwise. The characters, conflicts, themes, and ideas have to mean enough to me for me to spend months/years writing about them, writing blurbs, going through several rounds of editing, and doing a bit of promo, without ever getting bored. I’ve retired more times than Brett Favre, but something has moved me enough to keep bringing me back. But this time, I really am retired. No, really. You kids get off my lawn.

  3. Hi Marissa,

    It sounds like you really want to write, but you’re running out of ideas. If you have no ideas, then motivation fades.

    Have you tried mind mapping? Many writers use it to create more and better ideas for writing novels, expanding on characters, filling in plot holes, etc.

    Have you taken a fiction writing class, or read any books on how to write a novel? Those might also be helpful.

    Another thought is maybe you need to take a break from writing your novel. If you’re pushing really hard and the well is dry, maybe you need to find ways to fill back up again. How do you fill your well? What energizes, inspires, and encourages you?

    I wish you all the best – I hope you find what you need to stay motivated to keep writing your novel!


  4. i’m writing a book right now and i ran out of ideas, they just don’t come to like they used to. Someday’s i don’t feel like writing how do i keep pushing myself to finish. Writing is a passion for me it’s just when i come to a point where i don’t have anymore ideas i feel like giving. Can you give me some tip on how to stay motivated to keep writing my novel?