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4 Ways I Trick Myself into Writing (That Might Work for You Too)

Let’s be honest: Writing is hard. And because of that, it can sometimes be a struggle to make ourselves do it.

I often tell people I feel the same way about writing as I do about going to the gym. I know I should do it because it's good for me and it will help me achieve my goals, but I still do everything I can to avoid it.

If you're not familiar with this feeling (but I'm assuming you are since you're reading this), you might ask, Why? Well, I suppose it’s the fear of sucking at writing (or exercising) combined with the allure of the million other things I could be doing that don’t involve any sort of struggle (i.e., napping or watching a Catfish marathon on MTV).

As a result, I’ve had to come up with some sneaky ways to trick myself into doing it because the irony is, when I finally do write, I actually really enjoy it. In fact, I often find myself wondering why I don't do it more often (same goes for working out).

Unfortunately, though, none of the tricks below have been helpful in getting me to the gym more often. (But if you have some tips on that, I'm all ears.)

1. I tell myself "I'm just going to read it once."

When I can't motivate myself to write, I tell myself I'm just going to read through the piece I should be working on once, so that my subconscious can continue to work on the story while I'm doing all those easier things I mentioned earlier.

Generally, I'm only a sentence or two in before I find something I want to change, and from there, the revisions snowball. Before I know it, I've invested at least an hour or two into working on a piece I told myself I was only going to read through once.

2. I re-read my last acceptance (or particularly encouraging rejection) letter.

When slogging through revisions, sometimes it's easy to forget why I choose to write in the first place. Rereading my last acceptance letter, or even a particularly supportive rejection letter from an editor who believes in my work, is sometimes all the motivation I need to return to a piece or start something new. After all, how am I going to experience the joy and satisfaction of receiving an acceptance if I'm not writing?

3. I turn on music, not the TV.

The minute I turn on the TV, my writing brain goes into a deep coma. And let’s face it, there is always a Law & Order: SVU marathon beckoning from the cable guide. So when I get up in the morning or get home from work, instead of turning on the TV, I turn on my laptop and get Pandora playing. The beauty of music is that it's engaging but not all-absorbing, making it the perfect complement to more meaningful activities, such as reading, cleaning, or you guessed it, writing.

4. I read.

If I'm not feeling particularly inspired by anything I'm working on or feel like I need a break from writing, reading has always been a rich source of motivation. For instance, Claudia Rankine's use of the second person point of view in Citizen: An American Lyric helped inspire a flash fiction piece I'm currently working on and pretty dang excited about.

Now that you know my tips, what are some other strategies you use to get yourself writing? Also, if you try any of these, I’d love to know what kind of results you get!