Motivation for Your Writing Project
This page provides resources for staying motivated at every stage of your project--and for keeping a sense of humor along the way.
"If we knew what we were doing,
it wouldn't be called Research."
In the Beginning. Goal-setting (UNC) | Warming Up for a Writing Session (Romance Writers of America. Despite its provenance, this is a great list. A couple of the tips are specific to fiction writers, though.) | Freewriting (Peter Elbow) | The Loop Writing Process (adapted from Peter Elbow) | Struggling to Find a Project that Excites You? Follow the Lilt (Joli Jensen)
Determining your Purpose and Contribution. They Say, I Say, by Gerald Graff & Cathy Birkinstein (Ch 1)
Managing the Non-linear Nature of the Writing Process. One blogger's account of a recursive thesis-writing process (Above the Leading Edge)
"Great works are performed
not by strength but by perseverance."
A Writing Schedule
In this animated video, a blogger explains his efficient process for producing his blog posts on a schedule. His practical tips apply to all kinds of writing projects.
Motivation 101 for Writers
This video looks at three kinds of motivation: passive, external, and internal. Internal motivation is the most powerful form of motivation, and writers can use specific strategies to improve at this.
- Chronicle Vitae's writing support group
- How to from your own support group or a "Shut Up and Write!" group
- The Thesis Whisperer - a not-for-profit blog/twitter feed with contributors all over the world
Some encouraging writings on productivity, motivation, and efficiency
- Time Management Tactics for Academics (Nick Feamster)
- You Do Not Need to Work 80 Hours a Week to Succeed in Academia (Dynamic Ecology)
- "Write Like a Motherf***er" (Karen Kelsky), which is a response to this advice column
- Using Rage to Stay Motivated (Karen Kelsky)
- Why Does Feedback Hurt Sometimes? (The Thesis Whisperer)
- Are We Big Babies? (The Thesis Whisperer), on the role of habit in writing
- How Does One Manage Time More Effectively? (Oliver Emberton)
- How Blogging Helped me Write my Dissertation (Maxime Larivé)
- Priority and Productivity (Rachael Cayley), a nuanced perspective on advice for productivity and efficiency
- When Procrastination Makes Your Motivation Sink (Eva Lantsoght)
- Motivation (UNC)
- Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now (Jane Burka et al.)
- Silencing your Inner Critic (UNC)
- Overcoming Perfectionism (Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Myths We Stall By (Joli Jensen)
- Letting Go (Rachael Cayley)
- How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog (Katherine Moos)
- Dealing with bullying in academia (a post on the New Workplace Institute blog)
- 101 Tips for Finishing Your Ph.D. Quickly (by yours truly)
Motivational quotations for your bathroom mirror
- "Approach your writing as an important and ongoing challenge, not simply as a deficiency." -Rachael Cayley
- "The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe." - Gustave Flaubert
- "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." -Ernest Hemingway
- "The world is in perpetual motion, and we must invent the things of tomorrow. One must go before others, be determined and exacting, and let your intelligence direct your life. Act with audacity." -Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot
- "Writing is hard for every last one of us. ... Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig." - Dear Sugar
Motivational tools & apps
Schedule planner for writing projects. With this free resource from Baylor University, you can create a timeline for your writing project. Enter your project due date, and the Planner will help you to determine when your mini-deadlines should be along the way. You can even sign up to receive email reminders when a due date is approaching.
Write or Die. With this free app, you can arrange rewards or punishments for yourself based on whether you meet your word-count goals in time.
Keeping a Sense of Humor
Why it matters
Five Reasons Why a Sense of Humor is Crucial to Grad School Success (Emily VanBuren)
Silliness (for planned writing breaks only!)
Piled Higher and Deeper | Fake Master's Thesis | Funny or Die's grad school page | LOL My Thesis (also on Huffington Post) | Academic Tim Gunn | What should we call grad school? | Grad school humor page (U of Michigan) | When In Academia | Nein Quarterly | 15 Reasons Grad School is Like a Religious Cult (Patheos) | The only episode of The Simpsons that Margy has ever seen | Postcards for Writers (from fellow editor, Tweed)
"I just wanted to send a note to say how grateful I am to have you on my side. Your help, kindness, and patience have been so amazing. Please know you have made a difference. If the measure of a life is the lives we touch, you have lived beyond measure!"
"My writing improved after just one session with Margy! We met to discuss one chapter of my thesis, but the suggestions she made to improve that one chapter were applicable to my entire thesis. ... It was great to get such friendly, helpful advice from a writing professional.”
"I am delighted to recommend Margy Thomas as an excellent writing consultant. Not only does her warm and energetic personality make her fun to work with, but she also has the rare talent of expressing complex ideas in simple language and making overwhelming projects manageable.”