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What to do when you lose motivation

Motivation is the driving force behind our actions; sometimes it works for us, sometimes against us but we’ve all experienced that lethargy when it disappears. Most writers lose motivation at some point so I thought I’d share 9 things you can do to overcome it.

1. Identify The Root Cause

During the pandemic, I was given the responsibility for my children’s education, and I found it so stressful, so consuming, it became impossible to focus on anything else. Once my children went back to school, magically I became highly motivated and the words flowed again. There are different root causes for everyone but the most common cause is usually because you’ve hit a wall with your writing and something, somewhere is not working in your manuscript. In that case…

2. Go Back To Your Premise

Do you have the foundations in place for your book? I always suggest new writers develop a premise before they start writing; a one to two sentence-statement that identifies three things:

a) Protagonist

Who is your main character and what is their main defining characteristic?

b) Situation / Inciting Incident

What is the new situation or new world that your main character finds themselves in and what incident propelled them into that world?

c) Goal

What does your protagonist want? What is his or her objective?

If you don’t have this or it’s not fully developed, it’s going to be a struggle to write your book.

3. Sign Up For A Writing Course

Writing is a craft - that means it’s a skill that can be improved. If you’re struggling, don’t reinvent the wheel; find someone who has achieved what you want to achieve and learn how they did it. There are lots of writing courses out there all of which can be done from the comfort of your own home including my own, Kick Start Your Book With Karen – an 8-step online course that takes you through the steps of writing a book. To learn more, join my FREE online masterclass this month, 5 Steps To Help You Write Your Book TODAY. Reserve your seat here.

4. Think About Your Reader

This piece of advice can be hugely powerful if you’re struggling with writing. Author Candice Carty-Williams explained it well when she said: “Think about the reader...holding your book. I always think who do I want to do this for? Is it for myself? I think what would the young Candice want to read? And then broader than that, think of the people you are trying to talk to and all of the people who you’re trying to make feel less lonely because of the things they’re going through.”

5. Clear Your Environment (External And Internal!)

Take a look at your writing space. (And if you don’t have one, then you need one!) Is it clean and tidy or covered in papers, toys, and generally a bit of a dumping ground? You are a reflection of your surroundings so ensure that you have a space to write that’s set up for your needs. It doesn’t have to be large, even just a small corner of your home will do. The same goes for your internal environment. What are you telling yourself about writing a book? If you’re telling yourself it’s too hard, or you don’t have the time, then it’s going to be a struggle. But if you tell yourself, I can do this, or I’m excited about being creative today, or I’m so lucky I have the opportunity and the skill to write, then you will find it much easier and more enjoyable.

6. Reward Yourself

I often talk about the power of rewards when it comes to writing. I started using them when I realized I was constantly switching between tasks. I would open up my manuscript, write or edit a paragraph, and then I would check my email, clear my inbox, research something, get up for a drink of water and so on. I decided to set a timer for 90 minutes to work on my book and I wasn’t allowed to move from my chair or open up any other applications on my laptop. Only once the alarm went off was I allowed to reward myself to get up and get a coffee. During particularly busy periods, I would use bigger rewards to get me though the week. For example, if I write 5000 words this week, I can relax in the nail salon at the weekend. I would book the nail appointment and look forward to it. Rewards don’t suit everyone, but they’re definitely worth trying.

7. Reduce The Pressure

Setting up a routine helps with procrastination and gets you into the habit of writing regularly. If you already have a routine in place but still struggling, lower your expectations. Most people can write for 15 minutes so schedule that small amount of time in each day and take the pressure off yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you can get done in such a small amount of time and it can be just the thing to kick-start your motivation.

8. Protect the asset

If you’ve ever read Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism, you’ll know the phrase protect the asset. The asset is YOU. Producing your best work starts from within. You can’t expect to be motivated if you’re tired, eating junk, and not moving your body regularly. Boost your brain with foods that include omega fatty acids, healthy fats, and antioxidants such as broccoli, fish, nuts, and berries. Get your eight hours sleep, stay hydrated, and do your ten thousand steps a day. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your writing sessions.

9. Progress not Perfection

Perfectionism has caused me writing paralysis in the past. If this happens to you, then remind yourself that you’re only writing a first draft. There will be plenty of time to edit and polish further down the line and it removes the pressure of trying to get it right first time.


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I'm Karen, a best-selling novelist who left her corporate life to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Since then, I've written everything from travel articles to web copy before winning a novel writing competition which led to a 3-book deal. 


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