Skip to main content

IWSG - Motivation

Happy New Year! 

My writing resolution is to finish my current WIP and get it polished (maybe even published?) in 2013. So, for my January Insecure Writer's Support Group post, I decided to list some ways we can motivate ourselves to write. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I don’t have room to tell you every detail. My goal is to give you a taste of what’s out there and enough information about each item so you can decide which ones are worth the click-through for you

If you're already familiar with any of these, please feel free to skip it and move on. (I promise my IWSG posts won't all be this long.)

Let’s start with the biggie.

I’m sure everyone has heard of NaNo WriteMo National Novel Writing Month. Basically, NaNo challenges writers to write a whole novel (50,000 words by their definition) in one month—the month of November. You can read all about how it works here

Advocates say a firm deadline, contests, rewards, and community support make NaNo worthwhile. Critics are often of the opinion a novel written that fast can’t possibly be good and that the activity leaves the author with a heap of editing to do...if s/he even makes the word count goal.

It’s been my observation that NaNo appeals to people who’ve dabbled in the craft but have never been able to sit down and get a whole book finished. It gives them the push they need to finally get their story down on paper. It also appeals to writers who like to write a fast first draft, but need motivation to BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard).

NaNo's tempting, but it's not for me. Possessing the drive and discipline to ‘BICHOK’ is not my problem. Finding the time is. If I could crank out 50k in a month, I’d already be doing that.

My struggles are of a smaller scale—like tuning out social media or blasting past some writing roadblock when I finally get time to write. And there are benefits to taking a more methodical approach. Although I allow myself some wiggle room for my first draft, I’m a writer who likes to try and get it right the first time. I couldn’t turn out clean, tight drafts if I wrote at NaNo speed.

NaNo might work for you, though, especially if you do your plotting and planning homework ahead of time. If it appeals to you, by all means go for it. Of course, you’ll have to wait until next November... 

The Writer’s Dojo – ‘Where writing ninjas come to train.’

Author Ali Cross started the Dojo because NaNo only comes once a year and she wanted to recreate that environment of encouragement and camaraderie every month. But it’s not just for writing drafts...

Since writers are not always drafting, like in NaNo WriMo, the dojo has three training rooms you can join—WriMo ninjas (writing drafts), ReMo ninjas (revising), and QuMo ninjas (querying/submitting). There are even cute little ninja badges you can put in your sidebar. You can also find this group on Twitter with the hashtag #writingninja.

ROW80 - ‘The writing challenge that knows you have a life.’

ROW80 acknowledges we all have different demands on our time and, therefore, different writing goals. ROW80 (#ROW80 on Twitter) has 4 rounds a year, each running 80 days, and your goal can be anything you like as long as it is measurable.

  • You must have a blog to participate.
  • New rounds begin the first Monday of January, April, July, and October.
  • You can read the full list of details on the site. :) 

250, 500, and 1000 Words-A-Day Challenge by Inky Girl

Writer and illustrator, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, started these wpd challenges as an alternative to NaNo. Like ROW80, her plan takes into account differing schedules and goals.

I grabbed the 500 WPD badge for my sidebar and found it to be very motivating. The only problem is: her challenge expects you to write 6 days a week. As a working mom, I simply can’t. But I’m not letting that stop me. On the days I CAN write, I shoot for 500+.  :)

Word Meters

Word / progress meters are another thing I’ve found very motivating. The ones in my sidebar not only let my blog visitors see my progress and give them a glimpse of my WIPs, they encourage me! 

I made a rule for myself that I can’t change the numbers unless the word count of a WIP increases by at least 500 words. You may say 'big deal,' but I tingle with accomplishment and sit a little taller in my chair when I get to click over to my blog and toggle the numbers.

If you don’t have word meters on your blog, consider adding some. 
I got mine at Critique Circle 

This idea came from Gloria Sigountos. It's not exactly a word meter, but it rewards you for number of words typed. You get a cyber kitty for every 100 words you write. Just don’t forget to save your work! 

Writing/Accountability Partner(s)

There are many ways to find and work with other writers to increase productivity. Use your imagination. If you have experience with this, tell us about it in the comments.  

Last one - woohoo! :D

I’m going to add one more resource, even though you’ll probably think it’s silly.  
The random sentence generator

Sometimes when I’m blocked or stuck in one of those dreaded phrasing or wording ruts, clicking through a few sentences on this site can help. The phrases it cranks out are goofy, but, because my mind tries to make sense of them (after I stop snickering), they can be a real springboard to inspiration. Seriously—a real muse. You should try it sometime. ;)

Whadaya think?
Do you know of a resource I didn’t mention?
Have you tried any of these things?
Tell us about it!


  1. Wow, girl! You are so organized. I need you to come tailor me, my schedule that is. Ninjas sound so helpful andgood luck on your wip!

  2. These are all fantastic resources for motivation! Like you, I don't seem to lack the initiative to sit down and write, though it's nice to mark down progress.
    Most helpful for me right now is exchanging my manuscript with a few writer friends to keep me on track with some changes I need to make. If I didn't have to face their comments, I might just set the manuscript aside entirely and start a new one instead!

    Happy Writing in 2013!

  3. I actually don't do well with a lot of external measurements-- I avoid NaNo. I have a tendency to be a little OCD with things like that and it starts to feel like a straight jacket. For me, the bigger challenge is quieting all the noise, and listening to my heart. But I realize others really get a kick out of, and find meters and structured goals to be fun and motivating.

    Best to you getting the book finished and launched. Cheering you on!

  4. Hi Melissa, NaNo is not my scene too. I keep telling myself I must give it a try, but so far I have never joined it. I also have a bad habit of writing more than one thing at a time. I just need to follow BICHOK, then perhaps I can write more.

    Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment.

  5. Forgot to say, I hope you get more time to write :)

  6. Writtenkitten is such a super cute idea! Thanks for all the great info, Melissa!

  7. Here's to following through with your 2013 goals!

  8. Great post, Melissa!

    I don't Nano either, but I like the idea of the word meter. For me, I think the accountability partner is the best way to go, and it is more relaxed. I can't wait to read your book! Keep going! This is your year! :)

  9. That's a great list! I'm going to mention it Friday.
    NaNo works for me because once I make a decision to do something, I do it - but it takes something like NaNo to get me to make the decision.

  10. Love this- some great stuff I'm going to try out in this new year! Wonderful :)

  11. Oh my goodness. Many a laugh had with that sentence generator in 2012... LOL

    1. Oh, yes we did. LOL
      I should do a repeat of that in 2013. ;)

  12. These are some amazing tools, thanks for sharing! Nano worked for me for 3 years, but not the last 2. This year I think I'll check out the ninja dojo.

  13. Goodness Melissa...I really love your blog. I've GOT to make a habit to get over here more! Yes, I subscribed to emails this time!

    This was a wonderful post, and I like how you detailed it for me. I'm looking into many of those things.

    I did NaNo as a disciplinary action to MAKE THE TIME. Carve it out, no matter what I had to do, which even consisted of changing my hours of sleep. And it was so beneficial. I now (usually) rise at 4:00-4:30 just to get some of it out of the way and try to write at least 500 words towards something.

    Great post!

    1. Oh...and I just saw my blog button up! THANKS! Ain't it purty? Thanks again. :o)

  14. These were very helpful!!! I saw those word meters on some other sites, now I know what they are. Thank you! And, thanks for visiting my blog today for my first ever IWSG.

  15. This is great with many helpful resources. I love your line about tinging with an accomplishment. That's an awesome feeling.

  16. Wow, what an amazing list of resources! Thanks so much for doing this, Melissa. Invaluable!

    Here's to an outstanding 2013!

    ~VR Barkowski

  17. Excellent tools, Melissa! The words a day challenge is one of my favourites; I really should start doing it again.

    Jamie Gibbs
    IWSG co-host
    Mithril Wisdom

  18. This is great information. I do Nano every year, but will definitely look into these. Thanks:)

  19. Most of these were new to me... I do like the sound of the kitten, random sentence and ROW80. Thanks!

  20. Great ideas, Melissa. Thanks. I don't need motivation at the moment, but I often do throughout the year. I'm bookmarking this post :)

  21. Great list. While NaNo has never appealed to me, some of the others sound interesting. I just might have to check out the writing dojo. Thanks!

  22. What a great list. I've used the word meter on my blog and also done weekly updates of my progress on my blog to keep me accountable. I found that worked quite well. I've never been brave enough to do nano but maybe I will one year! :-)

  23. Great list of resources! I've only used three of those. I've done NaNo three times, two successes, and one oops. I tried a word count widget and I actually didn't like it, and I've joined a few fests and groups that spurred me onward. However, that 250, 500, or 1000 challenge looks really cool. I may have to check that out.

  24. I don't use any of those resources. I don't need the motivation. If I had the time, I could write all day and night. Time's the big issue with me. Now, if you could find me a scale of some kind so I could balance all the marketing with writing, then I'd be in! Happy New Year!

  25. Oooh, I've got to link to this in my next Sunday Surfing post. Very nicely done, Melissa!

  26. Holy resources!

    And I'm SO rooting for you with your WIP, Melissa! You must keep us posted!!!!

  27. Wow! This is a great list Melissa! I will definitely have to try a few of those. ^^ Thank you for sharing and good luck on your WIP. I'm curious about that NA Dystopian. Dystopias have become my new favorite genre! ^^ :D
    Happy New Years! :D

  28. Hey,

    As always (amd I mean it:) very informative and interesting... :)

    Some I'd heard of and some I hadn't, so now I want to try the ones I haven't tried:)

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! (and *much* success with WIP :)

  29. Good stuff. All the best with your 2013 goals.

  30. good tips - looking seriously at the ninjas and love that random word etc great fun - already do ROW80 - it is a great place for support- been with it 2 years now and found my output has really improved - the motivation given - tremendous. I like Nano because that's how I write - fast furious and tidy up later:)

    all the best with your plans - now lets have another play with that randomness:)

  31. Wow, thanks Melissa for all the great links! I love the wip meter. I'll have to try that one! One I've been needing to get back to is K.L.'s WANA boards. I've been missing the accountability and support--putting this one back on my list to check in with.

  32. You listed some great things that I have used once or twice. Love them all. I love word meters. It's crazy but I do. I love seeing that little bar fill up with my words. :)

  33. Awesome list of resources! Hadn't even heard of a few of them ... I kind of abstain from NaNo for similar reasons. My 'writing gear' just doesn't work well at that pace I think. :-)

    Happy '13 and here's to finishing that book! (Just let me know when you want me to give you a deadline, because I want to read it. lol)

  34. This is a great list! I've heard of several of these here and there, but it's nice to have them all on the same page. Need to send a blogger friend over here who was looking for something similar to this! :D

  35. Elise mentioned these wonderful resources... and here I am!
    The thought of NaNo terrifies the living daylights out of me! I write too slow anyway...
    The meter thinggie sounds very handy...
    I like the sound of accountability to a writerly buddy or group.

  36. Awesome! I've actually been looking for a new word meter!

  37. Thanks for all the wonderful resources. I've seen some of these, will be checking out others. I've used a word meter before and I really liked to see that little bar go up, even if it was only 500 words at a time. Thanks for sharing.

  38. Oooooh the random sentence generator! Love that! I've perused many of these already and they are such fabulous resources!

  39. I'm over from Alex's place- nice to meet you! I'm bookmarking this post as there are so many here I hadn't come across and want to check out. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Laura x

  40. These resources are AMAZING! You have something tor everyone. Thank you so much for sharing.

  41. Awesome IWSG post! I'm going to tweet it out as a resource.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  42. I've been wondering all along how to get one of those neat word counters. Thank you for revealing the answer. :)

  43. This is a super list. I haven't heard of most of them. Thank you.


Post a Comment

I love to hear what you have to say.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. = )