I’ll be honest, I generally don’t have trouble staying focused on my WIPs. I try to limit my WIPs to one or two at a time, but I don’t have a hard time getting motivated for either (I just struggle with the idea of writing so much at once, considering my chaotic life, lol). I don’t lose interest in my projects because they are more than just bunny trails. However, I know people who struggle with staying focused and motivated for their WIP, and I hope my tips help you!
KNOW WHY YOU ARE WRITING THIS STORY
This is the most important question you can ask yourself when starting a WIP. Why are you writing this project? Is it to heal a wound? Is it to spread awareness? Is it to make someone laugh? Before you dive into a story, answer this question. And once you know why you’re writing, hold on. Hold on to the answer. Because writing isn’t easy. Words don’t always come flowing, plot holes raise ugly heads, characters refuse to listen, and deadlines can be pretty scary fiends. But guess what? You have a voice and you have to make the decision to use it, no matter what.
Hold on to the truth that God gave you a voice and you’re writing this project to glorify Him and spread His love. Remember every voice is different. God needs yours. Don’t quit.
MAKE SURE IT IS MORE THAN A BUNNY TRAIL
OK, and before you say, “Every idea starts off small!”–this is true. Every author has a different way of doing things, and starting with nothing and just writing what comes to mind on a whim might work for some people, and that’s cool. But if you don’t have a written plot, formed outline, and solid characters, it probably won’t be easy to work on your WIP. I strongly suggest…
Have a plot. It does not have to be intricate or the size of the Bible. All you need is your basics. The basics could just be your intro, middle climax, and a rough idea of an ending. But you need the plot!
Outlining. I know not everyone likes outlining. But if you are stuck in your WIP, having an outline might be helpful so you know where you’re going with the story and what happens next. Again, outlining doesn’t have to be a huge chore. I’m sure you’ll find many helpful articles on teenage author sites and all, but I also recommend this post by Abigayle Claire about outlining for those who hate it.
Limit yourself. If you have seven plot bunnies dancing in your head, you cannot focus on plotting one WIP. So jot down other ideas, but focus your willpower on the main project(s).
As my next point says, the plot and outline will change as you write, but try to have a solid grasp on your theme and main points, so even if they change, you’ll then have a solid idea of what they AREN’T, too. 😉
BE READY FOR THE STORY TO TAKE OVER
We can have the strongest, longest outline and plot in existence, with intricate details, brilliant plot twists, and heroic characters–and our story can still change. No, no, it will change. If you have done the above tips and still struggle, maybe because your plot changed as you wrote, or a character changed a motive, don’t stress it.
Stories come to life. Be ready to let it come. Be ready to listen to God’s nudge in your gut as you write. Yeah, it might mean extra work because you have to rewrite the whole story, or redo a whole character, but it is worth it. Don’t stress the troubles that arrive. Don’t be disheartened! Everyone runs into problems (even bestselling authors, OK?). What makes us writers is pushing through trials with faith that God’ll lead us. Keep writing. Keep trying. Keep learning.
SET ATTAINABLE GOALS
Running out of steam is a thing, y’all, and a helpful way to avoid running out of steam is setting goals you can reach. Set a daily writing goal that you can achieve. This will boost confidence and every word counts, so your story will grow, day by day, and before you know it, you’ll have a finished draft.
So when you’re lacking focus or motivation, set goals! Sure, they might change, but you’ll make progress and feel better if you reach your daily goals.
BONUS: make creative goals! “Today I’m going to create a mock cover for 30 minutes, just to see what I come up with!” “I’m gonna spend 20 minutes on my Pinterest storyboard today!” These things aren’t pointless (cover making is really fun, yo) and helpful, so have at it with creative goals, too.
ALLOW YOURSELF RECHARGE TIME
This goes with or without struggling to stay focused on your WIP–hard work pays off, but if you push yourself too hard physically, emotionally, or spiritually, you will need to recharge. So try to be honest with yourself: are you really struggling with your WIP, or are you struggling because you aren’t taking care of yourself?
Recharging doesn’t always equal a month long hiatus from your project. We can’t always allow that kind of time frame, nor do we always want to. Taking breaks from a WIP is often recommended (especially after first drafts!) but if you’re past that stage or haven’t even finished your draft and need more motivation, I suggest…
Pray. What better way to recharge and find some peace than turning on praise music and reading your Bible? Talk to God and explain what struggles you’re facing. Ask Him to guide your writing. God is our greatest Guide, Comfort, and Storyteller… So seek the Best! 😉
Take a walk. Yeah, an oldie, but a goodie. It doesn’t have to be a marathon. You can even wander around your yard aimlessly. But fresh air does you good. And who knows? You might even find the answer to your plot hole in the great outdoors.
Human interaction! Whether you just wanna chat about some real life talk, or a family member is super good at brainstorming, step away from the laptop and talk to real people.
Just chill for 20 minutes. Read a book. Sketch something. See how much water you can drink in five minutes (this probably isn’t healthy?). Watch some TV. Bonus points if the show is the same genre as what you’re writing. (I rarely do this. Usually I just watch funny things on Youtube *cough*The Office*cough*) But allow yourself a blip of free time as a reward for your hard work!
I hope this was helpful, and thanks to everyone who suggested this post. 🙂 Feel free to share it with a friend who might need it!