We all have motivation problems from time to time.  Sometimes we just need to be more aware of what motivates us, and believe it or not, we often don’t know exactly what that is.

Do you know what motivates you? Perhaps you find a good book or film might inspire you to think about writing that great idea? You know the one – the one that’s been bubbling away in the back of your mind for a long time.

For some people, it’s the opposite. I was once inspired to write my first radio story after hearing a particularly lame and dreary radio story while driving home in heavy traffic one afternoon.

I personally am motivated by several things. Like I said above, occasionally seeing or reading something I consider badly written will inspire me to do better. At other times, I might read a story that was so well written, or so inspiring I just know I have to keep going. Other times I find a story takes up so much of my thinking time that I am just burning to write it – I absolutely have to write it – for my own peace of mind.


I am also greatly motivated by having people read my writing. Knowing people have bought my books and enjoyed them is a great feeling – especially if they leave interesting feedback, or ask me questions about the story. You can’t beat the feeling you get when people like the work you love to do.


Money is very important too. I have heard many artists and writers proclaim that they are not motivated by money but I can only assume they have trust funds or perhaps have inherited great wealth.

There is absolutely nothing wrong by being motivated by money. Money pays the bills, puts food on our tables and pays for our computers and stationery.

However, we do need to be realistic about our aspirations and expectations. Not every writer will earn enough to make a living. Some writers maintain full-time jobs while using the evenings or weekends to write.

I personally always had part-time teaching jobs and made my living from the combined income of my freelance creative writing and teaching.


The economic crash in Ireland did away with most of the part-time teaching jobs and I really did not want to return to the office work of an earlier life.



So I decided to replace those jobs with this and my other websites: one is www.ballyyahoo.com – my children’s stories site – which is set in the magical and secret town of Ballyyahoo. and the other is www.gracelikestogarden.com where I write about my attempts to tame my little piece of wilderness here on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

Doing this was a way to keep my focus on writing and I also attended a course how to create a website to get me started and have continued to learn about websites via online courses and reading.

I now earn my living from the combined income of my freelance creative writing and my websites and this provides me with a huge motivation to write.

Simply put, if I don’t write I will not earn a living. I have no other income, no trust fund etc. to fall back on. Believe me, when I say this is a great motivator.


We all have problems – work problems, financial issues, and family stuff and many of these things can cause us to lose faith in our writing and sometimes even in ourselves. I wrote a post about how I recovered my own motivation after a serious accident and you can read this post on staying motivated here.

Despite what the gurus say, sometimes those little motivational quotations and expressions do nothing more than lift us for a moment or two.  Don’t get me wrong I quite like motivational quotes, however, to be honest if I am really feeling uninspired or demotivated it can take a great deal more than a few lines of pop-wisdom to get me motivated.


If this is your problem, you may need to spend some time dealing with the causes of your lack of motivation. The most common cause of this is the fear of failure. Your inner critic may be telling you that you can’t write or that nobody will want to read your work.

You need to remind yourself that even the most successful writers suffered from this at the start and that the reason they are now successful is that they continued to work on their writing and ignored their inner critic.

There is always some level of risk in undertaking any creative endeavor and any artist or writer soon learns that they must accept this or give up. It might help you to remember that you only have one life and within that life there is plenty of free time so why not use at least some of that time to write – nothing ventured nothing gained.


In the meantime write a letter to one of your future readers explaining why you are afraid to write your story.

Then write back to yourself picking apart those fears and telling yourself the reasons why you should write.

After that, you can try getting back in touch with how you used to feel about writing – before you lost your motivation or desire to write. To help you do this, I suggest you try the following motivation exercises. I think you will be nicely surprised by the results.


  • Write down your three main reasons for wanting to be a writer. Don’t edit – nobody is going to read this except you.  So, if the first thing you think of is money, or a desire to work in your pyjamas, then don’t lie to yourself and pretend you really want to create great art etc. Lying to yourself is not how to get motivated.


  • Do you want to make people laugh? Or impress people? Do you want to leave a lasting legacy? Make a point? Tell people something different?  Educate people? Reveal a secret? Whatever it is – write it down. Remember to be real and don’t write down what you think your reasons should be – write down only what the reasons REALLY are.  Only write the truth!


Every exercise or suggestion I make here and throughout the site are things I have tried personally and can honestly recommend. However, I am not going to get all ‘guru-ish’ and say my suggestions will work for everyone, because they won’t. We are all too different. What I can say is that you might find it helps and if not, don’t worry; there are loads of other ideas you can try.

I hope that when you have finished these exercises you feel motivated again. If it worked for you reread it whenever you get that crashing feeling. To help you to stay motivated I have written another post on  staying motivated here.

For more creative writing exercises to inspire you click here.

For more about motivation see writer’s block.

There are also lots of great creative writing tips here.

No more getting lost and wandering off on tangents – learn how to plan your story here.

‘There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.’ – Christopher Morley





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