Staying motivated

I’m getting ready to start another day of motivational boot camp with writer-buddy Linda Formichelli.  If you don’t know what motivational boot camp is, read this post.  If you’ve never done it, try it.  You’ll get more accomplished in one day than you normally do in a week.  Of course, it’s possible you may have to have Linda Formichelli kicking your ass in order to get it done, but I’m betting that can be arranged.


Today is a rainy gray day in the Midwest, and there’s nothing quite like a rainy gray day in the Midwest to sap your energy, unless it’s getting forty-seven rejections in your inbox this morning.  Not that that has ever happened to me or anything.


For me, the cure for feeling discouraged and unmotivated has always been action.  Sometimes that action involves chocolate, tequila and/or a Greek sailor, but usually it’s something that will get me closer to my personal or career goals, even if it’s a simple action like asking a friend if she has contact information for a responsive editor at a magazine I’d like to write for.   


Some days when you’re feeling discouraged, though, even a simple action like that seems hardly worth the effort.  So here are some other things that help me stay motivated:


  • I keep an accomplishment list.  It’s very easy to focus on all the negatives – the editors who’ve turned you down, the clients who dropped you, the projects you haven’t finished yet.  An accomplishment list helps you remember all of the good things you’ve managed to do, even when you weren’t sure you’d be able to do them.
  • I keep my workspace neat, organized and attractive.  I know there are “file” people and “pile” people; I do both.  That doesn’t mean my work area can’t be neat and organized.  It just means I have decorative boxes in which to hide my piles.  I like to have pens in a variety of colors, just for fun.  A friend of mine just bought a new keyboard (with purple backlighting!) that I’m coveting and am going to order for myself.  I keep fresh flowers on my desk as much as possible.  All of this makes me feel good, and feeling good is a powerful antidote to feeling discouraged.
  • I remember my priorities.  My daughter and I make vision boards together, and seeing this week’s picture on the living room wall always reminds me of why I’m doing what I do.  I also have a written vision statement that I keep in a file on my computer.  I open it now and then to remind myself of what’s important to me.  Sitting here doing crossword puzzles because I don’t feel like doing something else doesn’t help me live my priorities.  A quick review of that vision statement usually revs me up to get something done.
  • I connect with community.  These don’t have to be writer friends or writer-related organizations for me to feel inspired by hanging around with them, although there is something motivating about having a group of like-minded people encouraging each other.  Now and then I need a reminder that the world doesn’t consist of just me and the crickets.

What are your motivational tricks?


  1. I second all your ideas, and add one of my own: I chant to myself: "I have all the time I need. "

    I do that because my brain freezes into gridlock when I feel overwhelmed. I can feel overwhelmed even if I don't have a single assignment. I'm actually quite a champ at that.

    But on a much more important note… So, about this Greek sailor…

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