All writers have methods to motivate themselves. Some people have daily word counts. Others are strict about getting words onto a page regardless of how many there are. I personally like to have deadlines.
Keeping on track with your writing and editing makes you feel good. There’s nothing like the feeling of completing a chapter, scene or even draft – which I happened to do yesterday, hence the day late post – after working so hard to get there. You get what you give, and if you put the effort and time into it, you’ll always get it back out again in some shape or form.
No matter what works for you, there are always some general rules I try to stick by.
Work in a way which works for you. Don’t tie yourself down to a schedule you know you can’t keep, because you’ll only disappoint yourself by trying to attain something that’s impossible. If 1000 words a day is too hard, lower it to something that’s more suitable. The important thing isn’t how fast it’s written, only that it is. Sparing a few hundred words a day won’t kill you. Stressing yourself out about word count won’t kill you either, but it will get you down, and your disappointment will translate in your writing. Know your limits.
Recognise progress when it’s made. If you’ve reached something you’ve been aiming for, celebrate it! However small or insignificant, recognise that you have achieved something with the time you’ve put in, even if it’s only as small as fixing a scene that didn’t quite fit, or tackling a chapter you were terrified to attempt. Any achievement goes towards your overall goal; give yourself some credit. Treat yourself. The reward might even give you the motivation to keep going towards the next target.
Don’t regret life getting in the way. Life tends to throw us obstacles. As writers, we have to try and scale these as much as possible. Sometimes, this simply can’t happen. Things crop up which can’t be ignored, and your daily writing goal might suffer for it. Never get caught up in guilt with circumstances you cannot control. Even if you can control them, don’t ever feel bad for dealing with something which needed to be done. Balance your priorities. By all means try to write, but if you can’t, don’t beat yourself up over it. Only move on and try again tomorrow.
Finally, take pride in your achievements. You see that word document filled with words and scenes and ideas? You’ve made them all. Look back at that manuscript – no matter what state its in – and smile. It’s something to be proud of. It’s yours. No matter what happens, that will never change.
I hope these helped in some small way. I'd love to hear what your writing methods are, and how you motivate yourself to achieve them.