How to Get Yourself Off Your Lazy Butt and Start Writing Already

I’ve talked before about how to keep the habit of writing once you started writing on a consistent basis, and I have also talked about how to transform your daily writing routine into the best experience possible for you, but what I keep hearing from many of my readers is that the hard part isn’t keeping up with your writing schedule–it’s starting one in the first place.

The question I keep getting is this one:

“Ollin, how do I get off my lazy butt and START writing already?”

I completely understand this question. I was there about 8 months ago and I can totally relate. Often times getting started is just as hard as keeping yourself going. So let’s take a look at some steps you need to take today to get yourself off your lazy butt and begin your regular writing routine:

  • Unblock Yourself: For new writers who are either unfamiliar with the term or do not fully understand the term, a block means that you cannot write because some sort of psychological, emotional or spiritual baggage is keeping you from writing. Julia Cameron would say that if you are not writing that doesn’t mean that you are lazy–it means that you areΒ afraid. You are terrified of either failing in your writing or (just as common) you are afraid that you might succeed in your writing. You are afraid that success might change your life, that you might move from a life you are comfortable and familiar with to a life that may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable to you. So as Julia Cameron would say, the first thing you need to do to start writing is to admit that you aren’t being lazy–you are just terrified about what being a writer means. For those spiritually inclined I recommend reading “Floating Above The Water” for tips on how to unblock yourself. For those less spiritually inclined I recommend starting a healthy psychological/emotional practice like keeping a journal or seeing a therapist regularly.
  • Find Your Form: I spent years trying to write in a form that was not mine: realistic fiction. I thought that I was supposed to write in this form because all of academia encouraged me to do so. I had trouble starting to write for the longest time because of this–I had been convinced that children’s fantasy fiction was far too “below me.” But that was an idiotic idea put there by high-minded intellectual-types. Once I realized that the university was wrong about what constituted “valid” literature and once I realized how powerful and wonderful fantasy fiction could be, I began to write the novel I always wanted to write: a fantasy fiction story based on Mexican-American mythology. For details on how to discover your form, you should read: “Finding My Form.”
  • Find The Right Idea: It’s important to find the right idea for a novel. The idea of your novel needs to excite you to no end, or it will be that much harder to get yourself to write it. Writing your piece is going to be a long long road and you must have an idea for a novel that you strongly believe in, or else it will be very hard for you to wake up every day to write it. I offer tips on how to find and nurture your most brilliant ideas here: Hooked on The Right Idea.”
  • Get Motivated: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: our love for writing does not motivate us. Writers need a lot more than our passion for writing to motivate us on a day-to-day basis. Feeling guilty because your passion for writing isn’t enough to motivate you to begin to write is just a waste of your time. Instead, what you need to do is utilize tools to get your butt off the couch and your hands on the keyboard–and a strategy to make yourself stay there for long periods of time. I discuss in details the tools you need to motivate yourself on a day-to-day basis here: “Motivation!
  • Make Your Goal to Write The Worst Novel/Poem/Article Ever Written: Beginning writers often want the first line they ever write to sound like Shakespeare. When it doesn’t, these beginning writers will stop right away and wait months before they attempt writing again. Having unrealistic expectations for your writing is what prevents many writers from writing. Please don’t to that yourself! Do not demand that you be Ralph Ellison after one day. It’s not gonna happen. Instead, make your goal to write the worst novel ever written. That’s right, make your goal to suck horribly. You will always succeed in that, and when, by chance, you do write something brilliant, well then, your failure is also a success! The idea is that you need to become very comfortable with how much you will suck at first. I discuss in further detail how lowering your expectations for your writing allows you to get more work done in my article: “Allowing Myself to Suck
  • Make It Really Really Really Easy At First: I mean like really easy. Beginning writers often make the mistake of insisting that they have THE PERFECT writing schedule in place once they begin to write. When this perfect schedule doesn’t magically appear for a beginning writer, they instantly believe it is due to their inability to be a responsible adult, or because they’re just a bad bad writer. But starting the daily habit of writing is a lot like starting a daily exercise routine. Writing, like striving to be more healthy, is a LIFESTLYE change. And a lifestyle change DOES NOT happen over night. It never does. You need to give yourself some time to build up to a schedule of 5 days of week, 5 hours a day, like I am currently doing. It took me a while to get where I am right now and please know that it will take you some time, too. Slowly building a writing schedule has nothing to do with how good a writer you are, or whether or not you’re a lazy butt–establishing a schedule is just a matter of time and patience. I recommend starting with a simple 15 min a day of writing, then increase this to 30 min, then an hour, and so on and so on, until you get to your ideal amount of time per day.

In my next post I will discuss in detail the elements you need in place to make your writing schedule work for you. Until then, good luck on getting yourself off of your butt and your hands to the keyboard.

One last thing before you go. If you get nothing else from this post let it be this: every writer made a decision one day to write, but getting to that place was incredibly difficult. We all have to go through that part. It’s hard, but most importantly, it’s perfectly normal. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Why not try this: Β instead of making your goal finishing your novel, a monumental feat at this stage of the game, just make your goal that you will START to write. Not your novel, just anything. Write anything. Make the first goal small, easy and doable and make it now. Don’t punish yourself if you don’t end up writing, but do reward yourself if you do.

Good luck to you.

much love,

Ollin

(See also: “10 Ways to Stay on The Writer’s Fast Track Once You’re On It,” “How to Start Your Best Writing Day Ever,” “How to Finish Your Best Writing Day Ever.”)

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38 comments on “How to Get Yourself Off Your Lazy Butt and Start Writing Already

  1. T.S. Bazelli says:

    Yes, once you get going it’s hard to stop! It’s the starting I always have trouble with. I’m trying to start again but something’s holding me back, and as usual I think it’s just fear of writing badly. This post was the encouragement I needed for the dayπŸ™‚

    • Ollin says:

      I’m glad it encouraged you T.S.! Yeah, you know what, starting may be the hardest part of writing. Starting each day is hard for me, but once I get going, the hard part is getting me to stop. lol.πŸ™‚

  2. Ollin says:

    Good luck getting back on the writer’s fast track, just don’t over work yourself.πŸ™‚ I love your new catchphrase. Write on! to you too.πŸ™‚

  3. Country Girl says:

    First of all, I absolutely LOVE the photo you used in this piece. πŸ™‚ You definitely offered some great tips for writers. My personal weakness is perfectionist approach; either it’s great or it’s trash. I look forward to reading more from you.

    • Ollin says:

      Well, it makes it easier then if you set out to write trash, right? What happens to me is that I say: “Okay, Ollin, you are allowed to suck badly today.” Then that permission allows me to write, often times what comes out is either pretty decent or pretty good! It’s just getting past that voice in your head that says you are a bad bad writer and you have no business writing. Once you get past that voice, it’s a lot easier. Looking forward to having you back again!

  4. cestlavieladypatience says:

    Nice article! I enjoy writing myself. Usually I get an idea by using my life or someone else’s. Sometimes ideas just come at me all at once. I alternate between stories I’ve half written, so I stay pretty busy.

    • Ollin says:

      That’s great, I guess starting to write is not a problem for you! Then, you might be interested in my two-part series “How to Have Your Best Writing Day Ever” which you can find using my search box at the bottom of my side bar, or you can just click on the article, there is currently a link in my “Top Posts.” Happy Writing!πŸ™‚

  5. erikamarks says:

    Great tips, Ollin! Especially not to expect a brilliant novel right out of the gate–that’s what revision is for–I’m of the: Get the darn draft written and edit the heck out of it afterwards School. And the “finding your form” point is crucial–write what you’d want to read, has always been one of my mantras…

    • Ollin says:

      Exactly, I think it is an often important, yet very overlooked first step for a writer. We can get stuck in a form that just isn’t ours. We need a form that is cozy and comfortable or us, because we’ll be in it for a long time. Thanks for dropping by Erika!πŸ™‚

  6. Messina Studio says:

    “You are terrified of either failing in your writing” Isn’t this the truth. I’m not a writer, but all of this can be easily compared to art as it’s very similar. My husband writes – he actually just finished his first book and I tell you what it was hell getting him to get the manuscript edited and printed and sent out! It’s like you finally finished your book – why not just do it! It’s funny how you can say this to someone else though and do the same thing yourself. I have been procrastinating forever with doing anything with my art – so far I’ve just been trying to do something each day. That way I don’t fall out of the habit. So far so good!

    But these points you make are all excellent – very good readπŸ™‚

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you Messina! I think the post can serve any artist. Oh, and please be gentle on your husband. A novel is such a monumental thing to undertake. If he gets like that again, recommend he take up meditation, or go to the spa, or take a road trip he always wanted to take. Sometimes writers just need a little break, a little act of self-love and care, and it does just the trick to knock away fear and get them to work. Good luck with your work!πŸ™‚

  7. blueeyes033 says:

    Loved this post! I write just to get thoughts out there. Many times, what I write is laced with humor. To me, everyday should have a laugh in it. Sometimes, but not often, I get serious. My biggest problem is not in that I have nothing to say.. it’s focus. narrowing down that post to the topic at hand, but hey, I am new to blogging, maybe that is my trademark? LOL.

    It’s more important to me to have an outlet to the words in my head than for people to read those words. Like everyone, it feels good that people acknowledge what you have written.

    • Ollin says:

      Ah, you’ll learn as you go along blueeyes. Read other people’s blogs and you’ll start to get the hang of it. Oh, and have you visited ProBlogger before? If not, you should check it out. Excellent tips on blogging. It’s on my list of links on my sidebar in case you are interested. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!πŸ™‚

  8. Addy says:

    Really really good post about writing! I have to admit that I did start writing but stopped few weeks back due to “work pressure” that eventually bundled up to be a sort of “strain on my brain”!πŸ˜‰

    So now I took some “rather extreme steps” and decided to do what I always wanted to do and “one” of them is writing! Escpecially liked the point about “writing your novel in the worst way possible”!

    Hey, when you have cheap trash clogging up the shelves on bookstores, I’m sure we have our own place amongst them as well;)

    Best Wishes!

    • Ollin says:

      Haha. That is true, there is A LOT OF CRAP that gets in the bookstores. Somehow. So who cares if we write some more? Hehe. But really its just a strategy to get you to write Addy. Once you get to the actual writing I’m sure what you write will come out brilliant. Judging by your blog I can already see that you are already great writer. Good luck to you!

      • Addy says:

        Thanks Ollin! Just posted a reeaaallly short story on my blog!

        Would like your feedback as well!

        Thanks, AddyπŸ™‚

        Oh and subscribed to your blog as well! Just couldn’t get enough…

  9. Thanks for the motivation friend!
    The CatMan

  10. Finding my form was a pain in the you know what. I always thought my form was fantasy, and it took me a long while to realize that I LOVE fantasy, but my best writing is fiction or mystery.

    • Ollin says:

      Yes, and you are so very good at it. To bad we never go to know what happened in those stories you once shared. Now that you’re back, you care finishing your juicy tales?πŸ˜‰

  11. valbrussell says:

    Stephen King once said, “You know you are ready to write a novel and send it out when you pick up a book from the shelf, read it and say, I can do better than THAT!” Of course, he is right. You’ve given some brilliant advice and there is no doubt there are many writers, both seasoned and new who need some reminding about many of these things that plague us all. My own experience is that this stuff comes in waves and every rejection letter I receive knocks me down again, but the getting back up is what is important and with practice you don’t stay down very long. Thanks for all you do for other scribes Ollin. πŸ™‚

    • Ollin says:

      Yes, you got to learn to pick yourself up faster every time you fall. You are welcome valbrussel and so are “all the other scribes.”πŸ™‚

  12. As a writer trying to break out, this was a great post to read! You gave some great tips that I am filing away! πŸ™‚
    I am subscribing to your blog.
    Thanks again.

    Darlene

    • Ollin says:

      You are very welcome Darelene!

      I’m glad you found this blog helpful! Make sure to let your writer friends know about me.πŸ™‚

  13. jannatwrites says:

    All great advice, Ollin. By the way, congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

    For me, finding the idea is the hardest part. I have so many that I start with and then after I walk with them for a while, I decide they aren’t novel material. (Some of the ideas get a second chance in my short story queue.)

    Now if I could just get more hours in the day…πŸ™‚

    • Ollin says:

      Aw, a thank you, a thank you. It’s been crazy.

      Yes, finding the idea is a very difficult process, and one that should not be overlooked.

      Oh, and as far as trying to find “more hours in the day” well I hope to address that in my next post. My readers always tell me things like “I never have time to write” or “I wish I didn’t have to make a living or else I would write” and I’m hoping in my next post to address this issue and get people going once and for all. Let’s hope it helps some people.πŸ™‚

  14. Excellent post ollin, another gem. Thanks! We needed this.

  15. inkspeare says:

    Great advice, and I love that it is down to earth.

  16. […] also: “How to Get Yourself Off Your Lazy Butt and Start Writing Already,”Β ”10 Ways to Stay On The Writer’s Fast Track Once You’re On It,” […]

  17. ashleyC. says:

    Impressive post. This is exactly what I needed especially now that I just started a new blog of my own.

  18. […] {See also: “The 4 Essential Elements of A Writing Schedule That Works For You,” “10 Ways to Stay on The Writer’s Fast Track Once You’re On it,” “How to Get Off Your Lazy Butt and Start Writing Already“} […]

  19. […] How to Get Yourself Off Your Lazy Butt and Start Writing Already {I guess you all just needed a little nudge to get yourself moving.} […]

  20. sarah says:

    hey, just found your blog through the top 10 winner list….and THANK YOU for what you’re doing here. all the best to you in your journey…

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