writing is like an ultramarathon

Writer’s Motivation: 5 Ways to Keep Your Enthusiasm Burning

Picture yourself in the middle of an ultramarathon, pushing through what feels like endless kilometres, every step a test of your endurance. At the 5 a.m. start, you’d been on fire, an unstoppable force, but now, after four hours of running, your excitement has waned. Your journey feels more like a gruelling chore, and you’d sooner stop and clean the public toilets than keep going.

But here’s the truth: enthusiasm may dwindle, but your motivation can be rekindled. Just like an ultramarathon runner facing the most brutal stretch of the race, you can manually spark your motivation for your writing project. Here’s how:

1. Break up your writing odyssey into smaller milestones

Imagine an ultramarathoner facing a seemingly insurmountable distance. It’s overwhelming, right? Well, the same goes for your creative project. When the goal is vague and daunting, like ‘write a novel’, you’re left feeling lost. Instead, break your project down into smaller, manageable tasks. Write down each step in crystal clear specifics, like mile markers along your creative journey.


Task: Write the opening of the chapter/article

Task: Discover two books or articles that can help you with research for your writing project.

2. Set short writing sprints

The thought of sitting down for a marathon writing session can be paralyzing. So, think of it like a runner’s training regimen. Can you commit to just five minutes of writing? It might seem a trivial amount of time, but it’s a valuable start. Those five minutes are your first strides on this creative marathon.

As you get into the groove, you can extend your writing sprints, just like a runner building stamina.

3. Avoid burnout: use the Pomodora Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that involves breaking your work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

Research has shown that by taking short, regular breaks during work, you can prevent burnout and improve your overall productivity. See the breaks as just as important as the writing sessions.

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4. Set yourself up for success

Every ultramarathoner has the right fuel, shoes and clothes to maximise performance. In the same way, you need to make sure that you have the right tools and the right environment conducive to writing.

Where do you write best? Whether it’s a quiet room, a bustling coffee shop, or a cozy corner of your home, create a space where you feel comfortable and inspired.

Make sure your device is charged and ready to go. At the same time, minimise distractions that can pull you away from writing. Turn off your phone, block distracting websites, and inform those around you that you need some focused writing time.

You may also find that having a set time for your writing can work wonders for your productivity.

If you want writing success, make sure you have all the tools and the space ready to get you there.

5. Reward yourself along the way

In a marathon, small milestones mark your progress, each one a building block toward your ultimate goal. Celebrate these mini-victories instead of saving the reward for the finish line.

When you can see the reward within reach, you’re more likely to muster the motivation to keep running. Remember, accomplishments, no matter how small, deserve celebration. Give yourself a breather to avoid burning out, but always keep moving forward.

A last thought...

In the world of ultramarathons, it’s not uncommon to see runners supporting one another. Find a writing buddy who shares your goals and can hold you accountable. Having someone who understands the challenges and can provide motivation during rough patches can make a world of difference.

In fact, many well-known authors attribute their success to their writing buddy who has their back.

Remember that motivation can be fickle, and it’s normal to face periods of resistance. The key is to develop habits and strategies that help you push through those challenging moments and keep your writing momentum going.

To sum up, Walter Elliot, the famous Scottish politician, said ‘Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.’

So lace up those writing shoes and get yourself to the starting line. Your first short stint is about to begin.



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