It’s so easy to dream up a story, identify that inciting moment, mold the characters, weave together a plot. Bam, you’ve got yourself a new “WIP”. But the writing part? The best way to get your story written is to hunker down and write it, but how does one do that, exactly? Motivation is a tricky beast, and I’ve got 3 simple ways to stay motivated while writing your WIP.
Make a Playlist
I know I’ve mentioned this in a previous post on a similar topic, but it’s a tactic that I now swear by. Playlists have been a holy grail for me. At first they were a fun addition I’d make for myself. Then I realized that they kept me grounded in the world of my story (specifically when I was in transit to work and back, not working on my story).
Honestly, though, there’s something great about picking a mood, a sound, and combing through my music library for songs that give the story some veins and blood and emotion.
The first week of this month, I really struggled with the first draft for my new Patreon story. At first I didn’t have an idea. I struggled with concepts. I managed to slam down a couple of paragraphs the next night, but I went to bed feel unfulfilled.
The next night, after putting the kids to bed, I plopped in front of the computer without any ambition to write. Instead I spent a bulk of the night searching for songs that evoked that “dead mall feeling” that I wanted to evoke in my story. And, well, what felt like two hours of wasted time actually benefited me the following night. I churned out a handful of scenes that formed themselves into a first draft, which I printed out the next morning.
I’ve honestly no idea when I last wrote a story that quickly. And I’ve finished a second draft that’s pretty much solid gold and ready to go for February. It takes place around Valentine’s Day and features a dead mall and is sort of about that that millennial fear of getting older. (Hit up my Patreon if you’re interested in reading when it drops.)
Do More Research
Every story you write needs a little research. Even if you’re “writing what you know”.
Even if you think you’ve researched enough, go back and do more. Said research doesn’t even need to make an appearance in the story. You don’t have to prove your research. Good research should ground you in your story. Good research should help you stay motivated while writing your story.
My favourite place to do research is YouTube because it has everything. People share all sorts of stuff. You can sit back and make a bag of popcorn and enjoy your so-called “writing time”.
I particularly enjoyed my research for this story because it revolved mainly around dead malls. Just type the term into YouTube and you’ll fall down the same wormhole I did last summer. In particular is this video of the Rolling Acres Mall that I watched over several times. Specific details did find their way into my story, too.
You never know what you’ll pick up, even if you watch a video several times over. Go ahead and wander, explore, learn! There’s a massive wealth of knowledge (and a potential new story lead!) online and you’ve got nothing but time, my friend!
Create a Moodboard
Plenty of designers use moodboards to convey a theme or look to clients. As a writer, you can utilize the power of the moodboard as well. Sure, writers work with words, but visuals always help. I mean, we all fantasize what your novel covers will look like, right?
Visual components always draw people in. That’s why I started making what I called “sexy hipster graphics” back in the day. They ultimately became useful for my “Vile Men promo cards, which I didn’t hand out and still have an abundance of. Moodboards? Well, if you’re facing a block with WIP, then making one can help you stay motivated while writing.
I use Photoshop and these free templates for my moodboard. Gimpshop is a free Photoshop alternative, though I’m aware that it has a bit of a learning curb that varies from the Photoshop experience. There are plenty of collage apps online too, yet those apps can be limited if you’re as nit-picky about graphics as I am. Type ‘free moodboard maker‘ into Google and plenty of options will come up. I can’t verify as to the quality, flexibility or freedom of these apps, but if you’re truly stuck with your work, why not take a few apps for a test drive?
I get my images from Unsplash and Pixabay, but there are plenty of free stock photo sites out there. Typically I’ll play with the exposure, contrast, levels and other such adjustments in order to get the images to convey the same mood.
The key to a good moodboard is including a variety of images. I like to have a couple images that focus on details pertaining to the story, plus a couple of “texture” images. Usually I’ll include one image of any protagonist without focusing too much on their faces. I prefer to leave those details for the reader to imagine.
Lastly, to convey that the moodboard is about a story, I’ll take one quote from my WIP to feature over one of the “texture” images. Boom. You’ve made a graphic a part of your writing process. Be inspired.
So, are you motivated?
Well, these three tips should help you stay motivated while writing. They usually work for me, and in fact, I’m planning on utilizing them with the stalled piece I mentioned yesterday.