25 Motivational Thoughts For Writers

With NaNoWriMo about to storm surge the writer (and wannabe-writer) community, this seems a good time to both tickle your pink parts and jam my boot up your boothole in terms of getting your penmonkey asses motivated. So, here goes — 25 motivational thoughts for writers, starting in 3… 2… 1…

1. You Are The God Of This Place

The blank page is your world. You choose what goes into it. Anything at all. Upend the frothy cup that is your heart and see what spills out. Murder plots. Train crashes. Pterodactyl love interests. Vampire threesomes. Housewife bondage. Demon spies! Cake heists! Suburban ennui! You can destroy people. You can build things. You can create love, foster hate, foment rage, invoke sorrow. Anything you want in any order you care to present it. This is your story. This is your jam.

2. Infinite Power, Zero Responsibility

Not only are you god of this place, but you have none of the responsibility divine beings are supposed to possess. You have literally no responsibility to anyone but yourself — you’re like a chimp with a handgun. Run amok! Shoot things! Who cares? There exists this non-canonical infancy gospel where Jesus is actually a little kid and he’s like, running around with crazy Jesus wizard powers. He’s killing them and resurrecting them and he’s turning water into Kool-Aid and loaves into Goldfish crackers — he’s just going apeshit with his Godborn sorcery. BE LIKE CRAZY JESUS BABY. Run around zapping shit with your God lightning! You owe nobody anything in this space. It’s adult swim. It’s booze cruise.

3. The Rarest Bird Of Them All

The easiest way to separate yourself from the unformed blobby mass of “aspiring” writers is to a) actually write and b) actually finish. That’s how easy it is to clamber up the ladder to the second echelon. Write. And finish what you write. That’s how you break away from the pack and leave the rest of the sickly herd for the hungry wolves of shame and self-doubt. And for all I know, actual wolves.

4. You’re Not Cleaning Up Some Sixth Grader’s Vomit

You have worse ways to spend a day than to spend it writing. Here’s a short list: artificially inseminating tigers, getting shot at by an opposing army, getting eaten by a grue, mopping the floors of a strip club, digging ditches and then pooping in them, cleaning up the vomit of nervous elementary school children, being forced to dance by strange dance-obsessed captors, working in a Shanghai sweatshop making consumer electronics for greedy Americans, and being punched to death by a coked-up Jean-Claude Van Damme. Point is: writing is a pretty great way to spend a morning, afternoon, or night.

5. Abuse The Freedom To Suck

Writing is not about perfection — that’s editing you’re thinking of. Editing is about arrangement, elegance, cutting down instead of building up. Editing is Jenga. Writing is about putting all the pieces out there. It’s construction in the strangest, sloppiest form. It’s inelegant. And imperfect. And insane. It’s supposed to be this way. Writing is a first-time bike-ride. You’re meant to wobble and accidentally drive into some rose bushes. Allow yourself the freedom — nay, the pleasure — to suck. This is playtime. (Or, as I call it: “Whiskey and Hookers” time.) Playtime is supposed to be messy.

6. And Embrace The Authority To Be Fucking Awesome

It’s your rodeo, hoss. You have the authority to write with confidence, to puff your chest out, to slap your ink-smeared genitals on the table as you utter your barbaric yawp. Aim big. Go bold. Don’t hide from your own most kick-ass desires. Don’t unfurl the story with hands trembling from the fear of what others will think. You have the power to do different. Yours is the authority to choose the road with your name on it. Write the story the tangle of desires and neuroses that comprise you so desire: A love affair between a man and a parking meter! A civil war between robots and other robots! A SPACE OPERA STARRING ROOT VEGETABLES. Fortune favors the bold. And being fucking awesome favors being fucking awesome.

7. You Can Clean Up The Mess Later

Writers are afforded the glorious possibility of endless do-overs and take-backs. Every draft a new chance to go back and clean up messes and untangle the tangled wires that hide beneath the narrative. Can you imagine that privilege in real life? “Hey, when you go outside today, anything you do can be undone and the whole day can be recreated.” Holy crap, the day you’d have! Bath salts and dolphin sex, car crashes and muddy graves. I’d have an orgy at a candy factory. (So sticky!) I’d kill someone just because I could. I’D EAT DEEP-FRIED LIPO FAT AT A COUNTRY FAIR SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF AMERICA. If I didn’t like it, I’d go back and wipe the slate clean, start over again. That’s your story. Your story is a madcap day whose minutes and hours subject to your whims of rewriting — or unwriting.

8. A Room Full Of Starving Story Addicts

For all the dire predictions about writing and publishing, I’m going to make a promise to you: the audience is waiting. They’re a subway car full of twitchy story tweakers going around and around, looking for any stop that will give them good story. They’re there for you. They’re waiting for your tale told. Writers often feel like they’re just sobbing into the void, but the audience will hear your plaintive cries, young storyteller. You may feel like a story flunky, but be sure that the audience is full of story junkies. Hey, snap, that rhymed and I didn’t even mean it to. FUCK YEAH WORDS.

9. I’m Talking About Motherfucking Ice Cream, Son

You are allowed to live a reward-driven life. You want me to motivate you? Go motivate yourself. (That is not code for “go fuck yourself,” unless I don’t like you, then it totally is.) Set a various goals and when you hit them, do something nice for yourself. I mean, the goal shouldn’t be, “Every time I write a sentence, I get an ice cream cone,” because that sir is a high-speed rail straight to the heart of Diabetesburg. But hit your mark of 2000 words a day? Write a chapter? Finish the book? Accept how kick-ass that is and reward yourself. It’s okay. You have my permission. (As long as you don’t bogart that ice cream. Dick.)

10. Nobody Else Writes Like You

When all your force fields and filters are down, when you’ve stripped yourself of your presuppositions and your fears and needs and your pants, you discover that nobody in the world writes like you. Nobody has your ideas. Nobody has your narrative memetic code. You are not a unique and beautiful snowflake, no. But your writing — your writing is your fingerprint. Your voice is yours and yours alone.

11. We’re Totally Built For This

Someone will look down on you at some point (or, if you’re me, at frequent points throughout your day) for being what you want to be. Writer. Author. Artist. Storyteller. Here’s why that’s a dumpster full of shitballs: we are built for this. One of the things that lashes us all together with rope and chain and psychic plasm is our desire — nay, our sacred fucking need — to tell stories. We’ve been doing it since we drew Neanderthals chasing unicorns on cave walls. We tell stories about the weather, about work, about family and friends, about pets and sex and about that time that friend we have at work had sex with his pet python while a hurricane raged outside. This is what we do. You’re just codifying it. Making it real.

12. One Word After The Other

The technical side of writing — by which I mean, the physical act itself — is one of the easiest things you can do. It’s literally one word placed after the other with some appropriate punctuation thrown in between breaths and ending thoughts. Yes, it gets more complex once you start thinking about narrative, character, meaning, text versus subtext — but for now, fuck all that. Just breathe. Let the tension go out of you (not so much you pee yourself). This is like LEGO. One block upon the other. One word after the next.

13. Just Write 100 More Words

A frequent phrase said when I was a child or a teenager: just ten more minutes. Meaning, it was time to go to sleep (as a child) or time to get up for school (as a teenager) and all I wanted to do was avoid sleep (child) or sleep longer (teenager). As a writer, play the same game with yourself: you want to give up, close the notebook, save the story? Just 100 more words. That’s all. Push yourself just a little. A hundred words ain’t much (it’s about the size of this text block). And you’d be amazed at how 100 words just isn’t enough.

14. This Is How You Get Better

Writing is a muscle: the more you use it the stronger it gets. Writing is like a dog: the more you train it, the smarter it becomes. Writing is like one of your orifices: every time you allow a bigger object to be inserted within (pinky, buttplug, fist, cucumber, wiffle ball bat, railroad tie) you train it to gape wider the next time. …okay, maybe not so much the last one. Still: writing begets writing. You may not be great — or even good — now. But effort yields fruit. Fruit you may later jam up your ass for pleasure. Wait, what?

15. The More You Do It, The Easier It Gets

It’s not just about getting better. It’s about it becoming easier. More natural. More intuitive. The act of writing cultivates both calluses (a metaphorical hardening the fuck up, Care Bear) and instinct (where your decisions as a word-captain and story-slinger are less the product of rigorous thought and more the result of you just having a gut feeling and going with it). Hard at first. Easier over time.

16. You Are Not The Omega Man

You are not alone. You are not Lonely Writer Person on Planet Nobody. We all get what you’re going through. We know your triumphs and terrors. The future of writing will be us uploading ourselves to The Cloud (probably on Amazon’s servers), our spirit animals glomming together to howl a single song, but for now, we’re all located at our individualized story pods, cranking out the words by ourselves. But that doesn’t mean we’re alone. We have community. We have shared understanding. Reiterate: You are not alone.

17. Your Love For Writing Is Enduring And Imperfect

Some days will be great and other days will be hard. Some days you will love the thing that you’re doing so intimately and so completely that you feel like you achieved some kind of narrative orgasmic apotheosis, whereas other days you will feel nothing but septic hate gurgling in your empty belly and every word slung will feel like a brick flung into your own nose. Your love for this thing you do needn’t be there every day. Every day won’t feel like winning the championship. But the love endures, imperfect as it is.

18. It’s Okay That Some Days Are Really Fucking Hard

Some days are difficult. The words feel like dead fish flopping out onto a dirty floor. Hell, maybe they don’t fall out at all but feel like they must be yanked one by one, the act both painful and slow, as if you’re extracting teeth. Some days are shitty. Is what it is. All writers go through it. You want to do this thing then don’t look at the shitty days as a problem: see them as a challenge that prove your pudding.

19. Writer’s Block Is Not A Real Thing

You can be blocked. Everybody gets blocked. But it’s not special. It’s not unique to writers. It doesn’t deserve its name or the credit it receives. More importantly, it isn’t a physical thing — it isn’t a gorilla with a croquet mallet who smashes your hand every time you reach for the keyboard. You can get past it. You think past it. You write past it. You kick it in the teeth and step over its twitching body.

20. How To Imagine The Haters

If there is one thing we have learned upon this old Internet of ours, it is: haters gonna hate. You will ever have disbelievers among your ranks, those who pop up like scowling gophers, boring holes through your well-being, your hopes, your dreams. It is very important not to prove the haters right. It is very important to know where to place the haters in rank of importance, which is to say, below telemarketers, below any television show on TLC, below crotch fungus and garbage fires and anal cankers. Imagine the haters herded into a pen. Eaten by the tigers of your own awesomeness. Then digested. Shat out. And burned with flamethrowers. The only power you should afford the haters is the power to eat curb.

21. Multiple Shots At Goal

Just as you get multiple chances to fix a single story, you get multiple stories to fill your life — as many as you care to cram into your days, months, years. Our lives are a series of stories untold, and it’s up to you to tell them. This one might not be successful. But the next one might.

22. The Leprechaun’s Gift

At the end of this rainbow are whatever rewards you want. Money? It’s there. Some say writers don’t earn out, that you can’t make a living doing this thing that we do. That’s a quiver of broken arrows: don’t sling it over your shoulder. I do it. I know a lot of writers who do it. So can you. But it’s not just money at the end: it’s self-fulfillment. It’s love. It’s confidence. It’s the things you’ve learned about yourself, about the craft of writing, about the art of storytelling. You never know what you’ll find until you climb that motherfucking rainbow. (One time I found a cardboard box of vintage porn and tasty grilled cheese sandwiches.) Writing is a journey. Each story just one leg of the trip. So start walking.

23. You Are Your Only Enemy

You have no enemy but yourself. You’re the only one that brings a story into existence, or, as it may turn out, fails to engineer that existence. Your enemy is not your spouse, your kids, your boss, your neighbor, your dog, your mother, your buddy. It is not time, work, addiction, distraction. It is not video games or Twitter, Facebook or television. Your enemy is fear. And indolence. And lack of discipline. And: uncertainty. And: lack of self-esteem. And all those things live inside your heart and your head. That’s hard to hear at first, but the trick is, that means you have the power to sweep all that shit off the table until it clatters and shatters against the floor. You’re the only one standing in your own way so, knock down your own worst inclinations and get to it. Disclaimer: actually, unicorns are frequently the writer’s enemy and if you got a unicorn problem best thing I can recommend is to call a priest. You can’t kill those things with weedkiller. And they deflect bullets with their horns. That’s no lie. Unicorns are pesky assholes.

24. This Matters

Story matters. Writing is important. Stories make the world go around. Many things begin as words on a page. It matters to the world. And it matters to you. Don’t let anyone rob you of that. Don’t rob yourself of it, either. Don’t diminish. Don’t dismiss. Embrace. Create. Accelerate.

25. Um, What Are You Still Doing Here?

Uh, hello? You should’ve bailed on me ten list items ago. What the fidgety fuck are you still doing here? Whatever it is you want to write — novel, script, short story, blog post, haiku out of fridge magnets — go forth and do it. Don’t wait for me. Don’t wait for all the answers. Don’t wait for permission, motivation, inspiration. It’s time to saddle up and gallop forth — through the white dust and the red sand, through the darkness of your own fears or inadequacies and into the light of a tale told to completion. Quit lookin’ at me. Quit looking for reasons. Quit dicking around. Close this browser and go tell a story, willya?


Want another hot tasty dose of dubious writing advice aimed at your facemeats?

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500 WAYS TO BE A BETTER WRITER: $2.99 at Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), B&N, PDF

500 MORE WAYS TO BE A BETTER WRITER: $2.99 at Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), B&N, PDF

250 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WRITING: $0.99 at Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), B&N, PDF

CONFESSIONS OF A FREELANCE PENMONKEY: $4.99 at Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), B&N, PDF

REVENGE OF THE PENMONKEY: $2.99 at Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), B&N, PDF

62 comments

  • This is why you’re my hero, Chuck. I get so tired of people complaining about their unfinished novels, especially when they post ON FACEBOOK about never having time to write. Guess what? That political rant that probably took you a good twenty minutes to craft just so you could fill your boring workday with an imaginary friend bitchfest could have been a killer piece of your novel. If your novel is unfinished, you have no one to blame but yourself.

    Just write your damn book.

  • Chuck,
    Is it alright if I read this at our NaNoWriMo kick off party? We also have an open mic with it…so might be fun to hit all writers not just the crazy WriMo folks.

    Let me know. Thanks…
    BTFO!
    ~Casz

  • Holy cow, Chuck, thanks for the kick in the teeth … or pants … or whatever end of me is up right now. I’d planned to spend today slogging through writing some website content, but after reading this the only place to go is … MORE NINJAS!

    Oh yes…I’m off to embrace the awesome…

  • “Uh, hello? You should’ve bailed on me ten list items ago.”

    Eh, I stuck around for the humor. This is my sanity mandated break time.

    Thanks for the ass-kicking (and the laughs)

  • I think my favorite ones are knowing that writer’s block doesn’t exist and to act like God when I’m writing. I’m still working on the finishing part, well, I can finish a poem, but for a novel, I’m still in the swamps of “Can I do this?”
    ok, I shouldn’t be here, time to get back in the trenches of editing.

  • I’ve written nearly 10,000 words in the past day for NaNo, plus finished two essays and an assignment in German. This must be what coke feels like.

    Thanks for the list, Chuck. I’ve got to admit, your nut-kicking method of “shut up, sit down, write” is exactly what I’ve needed to stop making stupid excuses and do what I love.

  • Thanks for the kick-in-the-butt. I needed it. Really. Although, I could have done without the.crude, sexual comments, your article was funny. It was also for grown-ups, so although I cringed from time-to-time, I did not put your article down. After a dozen or so suggestions, I felt the need to walk over to my laptop and make nice with my old friend by turning it on and sitting down to write. I did, however, go ahead and finish your article. And, I’m glad that I did. Thank you!! Yours truly, your new fan, Shawn @writer147

  • I specially like item number 5: “Writing is not about perfection… Writing is about putting all the pieces out there.” That’s quite liberating!

    Thank you, Chuck.

    Regards from Spain.
    Jules

  • Personally, I have seen the more I’ve written, the more I can write. I don’t know what it is, practice makes perfect?

    I started out struggling to shell out maybe 3-5 pages in a couple hours. Now I can write 3 good sized pages in 30 minutes. Also, I noticed that with writing, there will always be growing pains. Reading some of my work from last year I realized that I can now say things far more effectively while adding in plot devices and such stuff, while keeping track of the story while writing the first draft. The more I write, it seems the smaller and smaller that “tangle” seems to shrink. Practice makes perfect ,man, practice makes perfect.

  • Just when I think Chuck can’t come up with any more lists that are going to have meaning for me, he comes along and brings out this shit. Hell, yeah.
    I gotta say, until I saw them right there together, I only had a suspicion that this was my problem, but 5 and 7 pretty much encapsulate it. Don’t worry about what you’re throwing down, just throw it down. I get pretty self conscious and start editing before the words leave my fingers. This–this is what I need to work on. I can’t work on the other stuff until I work on this, and get the words out.

  • Well done! Now I will have that ice cream cone because I read through all 25 items. Can you tell I’m a huge fan of the reward system?

  • Thank you. I needed this. I’ve been suffering from pneumonia for the past two weeks and haven’t had the ability to put two words together. Now I can’t wait to leave my day job and get to work. I’ve been scribbling notes and stuffing them in my lunch bag. I’m ready. Thanks again.

  • It’s been 3 years since I finished my first book. Thing is I don’t have the same tenacity when I wrote the first one. The story is still in my head, but the actual writing is another story. I blamed myself for firing the muse and the leprechaun away. Even the music that I used to listen writing the first book doesn’t inspire creativity anymore.

    And then i stumbled upon this page, and I can’t wait to go home to write.

    Gracias, amigo

  • There were some amusing bits, but the low class/scatalogical language always makes it sound ignorant. Sorry, I am more appreciative of disciplined use of language than random bits of “cursive” thrown about without a thought about more selective, thoughtful word choices.

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