As a freelance writing veteran, I can safely say I have experienced it all. Days where I couldn’t focus, days where I did nothing but stare at a blank document all day, and days where I just had zero motivation. The latter is one of the hardest things about freelancing in general and especially working from home.
While there are no “tricks” to staying motivated since everyone is different, I do find the following things to help tremendously. I hope you are able to find what works for you so you can stay motivated and make your writing dreams a reality!
Write what you love
Let me preface this by saying I know when you have client projects, you don’t usually have control over what you write. But for the rest of you – you do! If you are a freelance writer that writes content for revenue share sites, your own blogs, or submissions for print publications, you have a choice in what you write. What what you love. Don’t feel like you need to only write about what is currently trending. You will face burnout really fast when you’re spending 10 hours a day writing about investing in gold coins (been there many a time).
Make a to-do list
This is by far the best way to stay motivated throughout the day. Start each day by making a to-do list of what you need to accomplish that day. Write down big things, write down small things, write down what seems like menial tasks that you need to get done. Include writing, editing and proofreading, marketing your writing business, sending invoices, working on your website or personal blog, updating social media, and formatting completed eBooks. It doesn’t matter what it is you have to do; write it down! You will feel accomplished during the day when you start crossing things off your list, and that is the best motivation of all.
Write the easiest parts first
If you’re like me, introductions take you forever. I can write a 500-word article in about 20-30 minutes once the research is done. The intro easily takes more than half of that time. When you notice you have been staring at a blank document on the screen for a good 15 minutes, skip the intro and write the parts of the article or blog post that are easier for you. Do you find the conclusion or CTA the easiest to write? Okay! Go ahead and start there!
Personally, I find the body of an article to be the easiest. Once I get that written, I write the conclusion, then I go back up and write the intro. Knowing what is in the body of the article actually helps me get that intro done. Win-win!
Take a mental break
While you need to stick to a regular work schedule, you also need breaks. Stop trying to get all your work done in six straight hours without looking away from your computer screen. You are only making it harder on yourself. You should give yourself at least 5-10 minutes of non-computer time every hour or so. If you have been working for 4 hours straight, close your laptop and go for a walk or grab a snack. Your brain (and eyes) will thank you.
Create a vision board
It may seem like a stupid suggestion or one that is recycled on every “motivational” blog post in the history of blog posts, but it’s for good reason. Some of us find our motivation visually. If your long-term goal with freelance writing, or freelancing in general, is to buy a house in the country, then that is going to become your best motivation. Every time you feel like giving up or spending half your workday watching Friends on Netflix, you will be reminded why you are doing this.
Whether you have a Pinterest board with inspirational quotes to keep you going or an actual vision board on the wall in front of your desk, it can be your new best friend.
Figure out your peak writing time
This is not the first time I have given this advice, and I doubt it will be the last. You have to find your peak writing time. Just because your favorite writing friend writes during normal business hours, doesn’t mean you have to. You’re a freelance writer who probably works from home. Guess what? You can write whenever you want! With the exception of strict deadlines, you should have some freedom to choose your own schedule.
Try to figure out what time of the day you get the most work done and when you are most motivated. For me, I can do the bulk of my day’s work between 5 and 10am. Once lunch time hits, I’m useless. I take advantage by waking up super early and working during that time. Find the time of day when you seem to get a little more done, and write!
Have a dedicated workspace
This is something that has taken me a little longer to learn, and I am still working on getting my office set up. You need a workspace that is only for writing. It doesn’t have to be a fancy office either. Set up a laptop desk in the corner of your living room, take over half the dining room table, or create an outdoor office on your patio. Wherever you feel comfortable and are free of distractions is perfect. Make this space your own, make it comfortable, and try to make it ergonomic to save your back, neck and shoulders a bit.
I like to play little games with myself during the day to keep me focused on my work. It gets a little tedious when you’re writing 30 articles about the same topic. If you keep losing your focus and motivation, try challenging yourself. Do you know you write articles in about 45 minutes? Set the timer for 40 minutes and see if you can finish it in that amount of time. When you beat the clock, try for 35 minutes. The trick here isn’t just to write as fast as you can, but to keep your quality up while still writing faster.
You may not be able to do it in the beginning, but it’s fun to time yourself and see exactly how long it takes to do each task. Plus, practicing actually makes you a better and faster writer, which either gives you time to increase your productivity, or lets you finish your work sooner.
What do you do to stay motivated? Share in the comments!