There are few situations during a writer’s process as frustrating as losing motivation to write.
It’s such a problem that if you Google how to motivate yourself to write you’ll find no limit to the amount of suggestions from often repeated ones, to people trying to pose unique solutions.
One of my recent favorites is writing for your writer crush.
These common and uncommon solutions may work for a few people, they may even work for you for a while, but eventually and often inexplicably they stop working.
I can see jaws tightening and eyes narrowing in annoyance at the thought.
Hang in there! There’s actually a very reasonable explanation for why these things stop helping and it all has to do with our current state of being.
The 3 Core States of You-ness
Trigger Warning: I’m about to take us down a path of generalization, and I’m in no way seeking to invalidate the importance of the broad and nuanced range of emotions we experience and humans. However, the generalization in this specific case is needed to amplify and ease the ability to take the actions needed to motivate.
There’s a great tool that can help visualize my generalization called the Emotion Wheel credited to Robert Plutchik.
In any one of many versions of the wheel, we can see how a range of complex emotions on the outside simplify down to a smaller sets of major emotions in the middle.
For one version I found the simplified emotions are:
Regardless of the version used you can categorize the list further to be the expression of how we generally feel during these major emotions, these feelings make up the 3 Core States of You-ness we’re discussing.
- Feeling Good
- Feeling Bad
- Feeling Determined
Recognizing where we currently exist with the 3 Core States of You-ness is the first step to finding the motivation needed to write.
Go ahead and think about the last solution you used to motivate yourself to write. Consider your state when that solution was working, if you were feeling good, bad, or determined. Then consider your state when it stopped working.
I will bet your State of You-ness shifted when the solution stopped working.
The truth is, what works for us when we feel good is not going to work for us when we feel bad, or when we feel determined.
Finding motivation to write when you exist in any of these states will require significantly distinct approaches.
The Feeling Good State
This the state we mostly exist in when feel our most productive. Its a state that allows us to prioritize, organize, and unfortunately is rarely our default State of You-ness.
Yes, this is our most stable and controllable state.
Having an awareness when we tap into this state can empower us to take actions that can go a long way to helping direct ourselves when we exist in any of the other relatively more chaotic states of feeling bad or feeling determined.
If you are or can get yourself into a state of feeling good take advantage of it to put together a plan for your next chapters or get as many words on the page as you can for later editing.
The Feeling Bad State
This is the most common block to writing motivation, and one that we are all going to struggle with more often than not.
There’s a great article that speaks to the experience of writing in this state.
Again, the article discusses a much more complex emotional situation of abuse, neglect and more.
But to bring this into the generalization we’ve established — this article perfectly explores the act of writing while in the state of feeling bad and how incredibly powerful it can be.
The core factor of writing when feeling bad, centers around tapping into and directing anger.
In short, if you feel bad and you want motivation to write — then it’s time to get angry and do some writing that makes a statement, calls for change, and challenges whatever knocked you into a bad place.
Remember, what is written in the moment does not make it what will be in the final draft, you are the creator here and that means anything can become anything you want.
The Feeling Determined State
The state of feeling determined can be an amplification of both feeling bad, and feeling good.
Determination is a fascinating state that is born from both the desire to change immense pain, and from the desire to continue immense success.
In practicality, determination is the main state of achieving change in our lives (and our writing). When we feel determined it’s time to take some chances. With this state activated we are capable of some incredible consistency and results.
Think of every new years, birthday, or first day as a palpable example of what it’s like to be in this state.
When you’re feeling determined the biggest struggle is actually stopping yourself from directing that energy to something other than writing. Meaning expending this energy on, often easier things to tackle around you.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure we could all use a little extra time to pick up the house, get some activity in, meal prep, or any number of other tasks. I’m not saying these are bad things, but I am saying that when we find ourselves in this state it’s a prime moment to get some words on paper.
This state, like feeling bad is highly emotional though it is on the opposite side of the spectrum. It can be very tempting to use this State of You-ness on something other than writing, and sometimes we might have to but whenever and wherever — opt to write instead!
We must make writing the priority, and in situations where we can’t, we should still aim to choose writing more often than not. What is prioritized is what will get done.
The 3 States of You-ness in Action
Now that we see the states for what they are it’s up to you to use them.
There’s any number of ways you can do this, you can continue to use the endless lists of motivation ideas you find online. Just note which solution helps you depending on what state you’re currently in. This way you aren’t using a solution that doesn’t vibe with your state.
Your challenge: Is straight forward but it will not be easy. By now we’ve all heard of writing to your audience, well now you are going to write to an audience of 1. The audience of your current state of being.
By doing this you are acknowledging your inner voice, being inside your experience as a writer, and honoring yourself by allowing what’s there to be seen and heard.
In recognition: There are some Bad, some Good, and even some Determined states that are so extreme that doing anything… much less being able to write will feel quite impossible. That is ok. It doesn’t make you a bad writer. It certainly doesn’t make you a failure. It absolutely doesn’t mean you can’t do this. Focus on yourself when things are truly out of hand (which they are often now a days). I promise, the words will not go anywhere.
It’s easy to sometimes forget with all the grammar, spelling, and rules there are to adhere to… that writing isn’t the words on paper. Rather, it’s every part of the writer presented for the judgement, admiration, or indifference of anyone to see.
This can be frightening, but it’s also awe inspiring, and exceedingly courageous. Writing is the manifestation our 3 states taken from inside and shifted to the outside. The bad of fear, the awe of good, and the courage of determination.