There is a saying about working from home: “the three hardest things [about working from home] are: the fridge, the bed, and the TV.” The same can also be said for difficult activities in general: there is always something far easier or more amusing to be done instead. It comes down to the difference between delayed and immediate gratification. For example, I can enjoy an hour-long binge of Anime (or GOT if that’s your poison), or I can write in that same span of time. I will feel far more gratified from a session of writing than watching, but it might be a grueling process if I’m in the middle of writer’s block or another less-than-exciting part. Even if I am writing about something very interesting, the call of the iPad might be far more alluring.
We have an endless supply of technological distractions, so finding a way to motivate yourself to do what you need to instead of want to can be difficult. I have to physically remind myself I will be happier having written something and can always watch anime, or GOT, or Avengers, or whatever else after.
When the reminders don’t work, I try to trick myself: “okay, I’ll just sit down for a bit and write a page, a paragraph, or even a few words, then I can go do what I want.” Or other times I just get out a piece of paper and jot down an outline or a timeline or general notes about what I want to write. This can motivate me to actually put together the scene, but even if it doesn’t, it’s a good way to stay primed. The point is always write something; it doesn’t have to be substantial or even formulated, but it needs to be something.
When motivation seems really difficult you can use a trick that people on diets use: they load all the unhealthy desires into a single point (a “cheat day”), so they can focus their energy on the “good” stuff the remainder of their time. That can work in writing as well: set the goal of writing for a few hours, but give yourself a break for 20 - 30 minutes in the middle where you can do whatever you want. It might be enough to get you started and you may find when the block arrives, you’re too engaged to want to stop. So don’t. Continue until you’ve reached the end — pausing for bio breaks and refueling of course — and be proud that you figured out a way to stay motivated despite the difficulties.
So what about you? How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to?