Are You Looking for More Writing Motivation?

Writing motivation: Do you really want to be a freelance writer?.

If you find it tough to get psyched up to write, this post is for you. I recently received a letter from a new writer hoping I could help her find more writing motivation:

I’m Sherin from Indonesia, it’s such a pleasure to find you as someone I can look up to. I’ve been saying to myself that, I really want to be a writer. And I’m very passionate about being a freelance writer, especially in content writing and maybe in proofreading. I know I need to plan how am I going to do that, but I feel lack of confidence and I don’t really know where to start.

I think this will be a good opportunity to make my own income too. I’m still a student supported by my parents. But I just love the image of standing independently. Anyway, I am so sorry to bother you. I know that I need to have some good skill to become a freelance writer, and to become skilled, I need to learn and practice. And I don’t know how to do that.

Can you give me some tips or maybe some writing motivation?

Letters like this make me want to cry. Because I’m dedicated to helping freelance writers earn more!

I want to have tips and useful info for you. (And ESL writer or not, writers write in every language and there are clients all over the world, so any grammar errors you spot above are not important here.)

What’s the trouble then? When you ask me to give you some motivation, I’ve got nothing.

The 2 kinds of writing motivation

There are really only two ways that writers are motivated:

  1. Desperation
  2. Creativity

Some people get into freelance writing out of a desperate need to pay bills. You’ve just gotten fired. Maybe you can’t leave the house due to multiple preschoolers or a disability or agoraphobia. You need an Internet-based way to earn.

You’re broke! Your children are starving! And the terror of imagining your family homeless gets your butt in the chair, cranking out whatever writing assignments you can grab. That’s one kind of writing motivation.

You find writing fairly easy and do it at least competently well…and you’re able to discipline yourself to do it. Because you’re hungry.

Maybe it’s not your huge passion, but it’s a living. And you’re willing to stick with it for that paycheck motivation.

On the other hand, there’s the born-writer who’s following their creative muse. This is the other kind of writing motivation. You simply have to write, nearly every day, or you don’t feel whole. You feel stifled and sad.

Becoming a freelance writer allows you to indulge your writing habit more hours of the day — win!

If you can really take or leave writing, and you could quilt or go for long walks or play pickleball or do something else with most of your available time, freelance writing probably isn’t for you.

Why? Because writing is hard. And if you don’t love it, it’s highly likely you’re going to get frustrated and give up, long before you’ve put in enough hours to get really good at it.

When you ask others…

Here’s the big problem with asking other people to give you motivation: It’s not going to work.

I could cook up some inspiring words for you about how great it is to be a freelance writer. I mean, I’m sitting here typing this on the deck of our home overlooking a gorgeous, blue lake, on a beautiful, sunny day.

I woke up at 5 a.m., all fired up to write. I worked until I got tired, then took a nap, around 1:30 pm. Because I felt like it.

You want this life, yes? And yet…you sit. Not taking action. Motivation implies movement, and you ain’t got it.

You’re hoping someone else will come and say the magic words to you that will move you forward. That will flood you with the confidence that yes, you could be a writer. You’ll stop saying, “I just don’t have any article ideas,” and suddenly, you’ll be out there pitching up a storm.

But the drive to write for a living can only come from one place: Inside you.

At base, you’re either a writer, or you aren’t.

If that spark doesn’t live in your gut that says, “I’m a writer, and this is the my life’s purpose,” no amount of outside encouragement, writing exercises, or client praise, is going to keep you fired up enough to do this, over the long haul.

Those insecurities will keep gnawing at you and prevent you from making this your career.

The freelance writing life — besides being a delightfully flexible lifestyle — is also a hustle. Often, it’s a grind. It’s challenging and tough. It’s competitive.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

So if you’re not burning up to do it, at some point, you move on to something else.

The other problem? Asking someone else to give you the motivation you need gives away your power.

No other person should ever be allowed to hold your career in their hands. Your destiny, and how you will spend the thousands of work hours ahead of you, is up to you.

Tips from a motivated writer

How do you know professional writing is for you?

Freelance writing, or being a novelist, isn’t a career you choose out of a catalog at an employment office, or browsing job categories online. It’s not like deciding to become a plumber or an engineer.

It’s the other way around. Writing chooses you.

So whenever someone writes me to say, “I’ve decided just this month to become a writer,” I’m thinking…no. You’ve decided writing sounds fun and glamorous, but you’re not really going to do it.

To have a shot at making a living as a writer, you have to be someone who loves writing and feels absolutely compelled to do it.

You’d rather move paragraphs around or rewrite sentences until they shine than just about anything else. You lie awake at night, your mind buzzing with creative writing ideas.

Actually, you can’t stop writing. You never stop, as The War of the Roses author Warren Adler discusses in this great video about his writing life today, at age 90:


When you watched that video, you either vigorously nodded your head all through, thinking, “Yes! That’s me, too!” or you were baffled as to how this man kept on, despite so many rejections, and still feels compelled to write every day. Because you can’t relate.

If you’re in the second category, and you’re looking to experienced coaches like me for a source of motivation…sadly, I can’t help.

I can teach you how to pitch clients and get gigs, or how to write a well-constructed case study or e-book, or how to write a stronger opening paragraph for your article.

But writing motivation? That’s your department.

Struggling with writing motivation? Let’s discuss on my Facebook.

Writing motivation: Get a free e-book (100+ Freelance Writing Questions Answered by Carol Tice) and free updates! Sign me up!

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22 comments on “Are You Looking for More Writing Motivation?
  1. Rick Gabe says:

    What I would add to Carol’s compelling feedback here… is that first I would need more information to best offer advice. I interpret this person’s ennui with writing is out of a lack of confidence, and also that Sherin is still a student?

    Without more information to go on, I’ll assume that as a student Sherin has time on his/her side? No current financial responsibilities of a home and family? Now that’s an assumption I know.

    How do we get confidence? From successes. So Sherin needs to mine where his/her inspiration lies which would then transcend to topics to be written about. And then- start writing! Focus on each project one by one and how you can best write that piece.

    Once the writing projects come, one by one, and hopefully Sherin is proud of the output- then comes confidence- and then eventual motivation out of that confidence.
    One day- one project at a time.


    Awesome article…Motivation cannot be taught

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Shehryar,

      Thanks. If you really want to be a successful freelancer, you’ll find a way. You’ll do whatever it takes. You’ll keep going until you figure it out.

  3. Spot on, Carol! There is nothing passive or wishful that brings success as a freelancer!

    I do a daily writing exercise on a schedule of pre-set subjects, i.e., read the title, sit down and write. I set my clock for 15 minutes and write as fast as I can, then take time to edit, re-visit on another date to see how to improve.

    The point, for me, is to produce something on demand. This morning, for instance, the subject was “You’re in a movie theater.” Couldn’t think what to write. But with the clock ticking, I just started, and what emerged was a humorous little piece that surprised me.

    Warren Adler is just so inspirational. Going to read some of his stuff; surprised I never have. I saved his quote, which will go into my writing notebook–“Keep writing, keep reading and stay curious. Never let fear in. When in doubt, write.”

    Thank you!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Cleta,

      That’s great. A daily routine can have a big impact on creativity, productivity, and focus.

  4. Kimberlee says:

    I believe discipline always trumps motivation. Motivation is waiting for a certain feeling or a desire. But the truth is that even with the “motivation” to not starve, sometimes we just don’t feel like it. That’s OK, do it anyway. Discipline I sitting down to write every day, no matter how we feel. I believe that’s what makes the difference between being successful and having to go back to a regular job.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Kimberlee,
      “That’s OK, do it anyway.” Reminds me of Linda Formichelli’s book, “Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters.”

      Keep going.

  5. Such wisdom here. There is no quick fix.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      No there really isn’t. You can’t teach motivation. But sometimes all it takes is working long enough/hard enough to get a win or land an assignment to start feeling motivated to keep going.

  6. Sarah says:

    I think the same holds true for many things in life. Desperation may take you to the door but only perspiration will get you down the road. You’ve got to want it.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      “You’ve got to want it.” Lot of benefits to being a freelance writer, but it does take self-disciple, hard work, and motivation.

  7. This article is spot on. No one else can provide motivation for you. I continue to pursue the skills I need but I feel my real success comes because I love coming up with ideas and writing and rewriting until it is exactly what I want. Thanks for the great article Carol.
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    • Evan Jensen says:

      Totally agree. As always, Carol nailed this topic. She’s got a unique perspective on this issue after coaching so many writers in her programs.

  8. Diane Young says:

    It’s like the basketball coach says, “You can’t teach height”.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      LOL. Haven’t heard that one before. You have to learn to self-motivate to make this work.

  9. Erica says:

    Every fellow copywriter I’ve connected with has gravitated to this field because they love writing and decided to make a living out of it. They can’t imagine not writing. It’s what we do.

    Yes, Stephen Pressfield’s book “The War of Art” is excellent. I’d also recommend Stephen King’s “On Writing.” But motivation? Like inspiration, that needs to come from within. You either want it or you don’t.

    • Annette Davis says:

      I also like Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.” There are so many voices out there telling us to come along on the journey. One of them will extend a hand and speak into an ear a message that will help one take the first step. I wish Carol’s letter writer a wonderful odyssey! This site helped me take my first steps. Thanks Carol!

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Erica,

      “It’s what we do.” Love it. Pick your source of motivation: desperation or creativity. And get on with writing.

  10. Annette Davis says:

    Another good resource for understanding the writing life is Steve Pressfield’s book. It’s a no-nonsense, clear-cut exploration into what makes us “Resist” writing. This book sure has movtivated me to get out of my own way and – write.