7. What to Do When You Can't Get Motivated to Write

Go to that place where your YA novel is written and published. Imagine it in vivid detail for a moment. Then ask yourself: what emotions did you use to accomplish it?

What came to mind for you? Was it motivation, excitement, passion, or inspiration? All of them?

Most YA authors think they need to have one of these emotions to fuel their writing. It’s something we hear all the time, that being passionate and excited about your work is the only way you can get it done.

I believed this for many years.

The problem for me is that the act of writing just doesn’t make me excited or motivated. It might sound ridiculous, a writer who's not motivated to write, but it's the truth for me.

I find motivation and excitement in brainstorming ideas and in daydreaming about my story, but the actual act of sitting down to write is not exciting.

For you, "exciting" might be something else entirely – like meeting friends for a house party or watching the next Netflix episode after a cliffhanger (so good!), or scrolling through Instagram and finding the perfect meme to send your friend.

I knew I could make myself motivated or excited to write by choosing my thoughts. I used thoughts like “I am a talented writer with stories worth finishing,” and “this is a story that will get sold.” I put them as a reminder in my phone and I repeated them to myself as much as I could.

While that absolutely did work to get me writing, it was slow going. And it was tiring. I’d find myself depleted after a writing session, which made generating motivation for the next day even harder.

While struggling to find motivation, I realized there were other emotions available to me – and that I didn’t have to be motivated, inspired, or excited to write. I only needed to be willing to write.

Choosing the emotion of "willing" meant that I needed to be willing to feel both the negative and positive emotions that come with the process of writing.

“Willing” freed up my brain to focus on the task at hand, rather than focusing on enjoying the task at hand. There is a big difference.

Now, you passionate YA authors might be thinking, “That’s crazy! Of course you need to be inspired to write. You need to be passionate and excited.”

And you do, but those emotions come at different places in the writing process for different people.

Some people might get excited by the brainstorming process, where they get to fantasize about all the possibilities of their story. Some people might be really passionate about their main character and the creation of them. And yes, some people might be motivated to write the bulk of their story. And they are lucky!

I know that for me, the excitement will come at the beginning when I have all the possibilities in front of me, and later, after my story is done. That promise of excitement is enough to keep me writing.

So if you’re struggling, like I have, on generating that excitement and motivation, I invite you to try being willing to write. Be willing to go through the process, both good and bad.

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