Tricking Motivation Pt.3

And now we’ve reached the end of this mini-series; how to unblock your mind if you’re feeling stuck while writing.

We’ve looked at how to find the motivation to get started, how to stay focused during long sessions, but what if you’ve settled down in your designated workspace, you’ve got your writing music on, and still find yourself stuck? Maybe it’s a creative issue, like where to take a plot or how to handle a character or maybe you’re struggling with finding the right angle for an essay question or finding relevant connections in your resources and references.

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There is a key-phrase for this post, and one phrase slithering like a red thread through this issue of being stuck; change of scenery. If you stay staring at your computer screen, in the exact same place, on the exact same word document, you’ll most likely stay right where you are on your problem, but with a little change of air, you might see some solutions start appearing. Read on for some ways to find this change whilst working!

7. Go for a walk

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Leave your computer where it is, leave your documents and notes and research behind and get outside. Walk through town, have a wander through a nearby park, do a little hike if you live and work near some woods. Getting out, feeling the wind on your face and breathing some fresh air might help you see your issue in a new light, and even when you’re not actively thinking about it, you’re processing the issue in your head, subconsciously working with your problem. I always find an essay feels less daunting and chaotic after a little walk, after you’ve seen some people and heard some bird chatter. You don’t have to go too far either, just a stroll around campus might be enough if you’re on a tight schedule or just not feeling a long walk. Try it, maybe you’ll be surprised!

8. Have a shower or a bath

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This point is quite similar to the one above; take a break and just think about what’s got you stuck, without staring at your screen, actively trying to solve it. Let the warm water wash over you and let yourself relax completely. Then put on some comfortable clothes, tie your hair up, put on some moisturizer and pamper yourself a bit. Make yourself a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate, and get back to your writing or your work, and have a look at it with fresh eyes. This has helped me so many times and might be my favourite trick to get going again when I’m stuck.

9. Change up your workspace

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Pack up your stuff and move to a different space. This does contradict creating a consistent workspace, but if you’re really stuck, it might not be enough with just a break to clear your mind, you might need a new workspace altogether. Grab your laptop and your notes and get comfy in a cafe, in a park or just in a different part of the library. The new people surrounding you, the new smells and sounds and different impulses, might help jolt your brain out of whatever rut it’s stuck on, helping you find that new angle or the solution to that plot-hole.

And last but not least, a point that spans over all three posts in this “Tricking Motivation”-series;

10. Write with someone else

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If you’re stuck, if you’re struggling with keeping your focus and motivation or if you catch yourself whittling time away on your phone, collaborative writing may be the solution for you. Working with someone is very useful for writers for a lot of reasons. First of all, writing is often quite solitary work, but having someone to bounce ideas off of, to brainstorm with and to workshop sentences and pieces with, can both make the process of writing quicker, more productive and more fun, and it will most likely lead to a better product. Working with someone also means that you have someone who keeps you accountable for how you spend your time. They can catch you if you start drifting off before the designated break time and they can help you keep your eyes off your phone and your fingers on the keyboard. This is, of course, as long as they’re not the one drifting off or distracting you with chitchat and cat videos. I do believe everyone’s been both of these people, one or two times before.

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So, there you go, three posts about how to find motivation, keep focused, and get back on track when you’re stuck. This was my first attempt at a scheduled “article-esque”  mini-series on this blog, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot! Looking forward to writing more posts like this in the future. Hopefully, you found some of these points helpful, either as a reminder of something you already knew or as easy solutions you’ve just not really thought about before.

Thank you so much for reading these “Tricking Motivation” posts, and I wish you all the best for your writing sessions in the future.

Question of the day: What do you do to get your brain going again when you’re stuck?

-Andrea

 

Tricking Motivation Pt.1

Motivation is a funny thing that often rears its head at the most inopportune moments, like on a long car journey or at 1 AM. Motivation does not care about deadlines and timetables, it’s doing its own thing

Of course, we should all be doing our own things, and following your heart should always be encouraged. Motivation doing its own thing, however, is not awfully helpful when you’re getting close to the end of the semester and are desperately trying to meet all those deadlines that pile up. As I have now officially handed in the last assignment of my BA, (stay tuned for a post about the last stretch on that piece!) I figured it would be time to share how I’ve tricked myself into feeling motivated (when I really didn’t want to work) these last three years.

This post will be split into three parts, and in this first part, we’ll just have a look at some easy ways to find (or make) motivation before you start writing.

1. Make yourself a workspace

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My number 1 tip for how to be productive and get started with what you need doing, is to have a designated workspace. It might be difficult to differentiate between workspace and relax-zone, especially if you live in halls, where you eat, sleep, relax and try to get work done, all in the same room. Choosing a part of your desk that is for working only,  finding a cafe you never go to for anything but work or a spot in the library, will often help kickstart your brain if it’s a bit sluggish and work-shy. Personally, I cannot work in my room. For this, the library has been my saviour these last three years. The amount of time I’ve struggled for days with assignments at home, only for the words to flow out of my fingers the second I’m sat by a library computer is ridiculous, but at least it means the work gets done. Having a designated workspace also means that you can take proper breaks by leaving said space, and I’m all here for the most productive breaks, as this means you can get back to work again quickly!

2. Make sure you have all your notes ready

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Oh, how I’d love for my notes to look like this (I’m aware the notepad is blank, but I appreciate the aesthetic, okay?), but I’m pretty sure no one’s desk ever looks this clean while working. A girl can dream, though.
However, what I’ve found to be useful while “faking it ’til you’re making it” in the motivation department, is to make sure you’ve got all your notes and research ready before you start typing. Find all the books you need in the library, print out those essays (you can always plant some trees later), highlight and colour code your notes if you need to – just have it in front of you. Flicking through stacks of paper is less likely to have you switch your internet tabs to social media, something that might be tempting if you’re looking through online research while working. Also, colour coding makes you both look and feel prepared, which is never a bad thing.

3. Set your own mini-deadlines

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I “found” this skill while working on my BA dissertation this year; make small, in-progress deadlines for yourself throughout your projects. There is almost always a correlation between the deadline and the workload; if your uni lecturer or teacher or whoever is assigning you work has given you a long time to finish a task that most likely means you need that time. Make deadlines for yourself, like when you want the idea fully formed and finished, when you want the first 500 or 1000 words done, or when you want your first draft complete so you can spend the rest of your time just reworking what you have. Making yourself a schedule with small deadlines as you go along can make a big assignment or piece of work seem a lot more manageable and easier to get started on.

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Of course, these tips aren’t just for finding the motivation to finish assignments; it’s for getting all kinds of work done, for revising or studying, and for any sort of writing in general.

Question of the day: How do you find motivation when you need it?

-Andrea