Writing 101: 6 Ways to Get Motivated to Write

Good afternoon OTMM readers! Today, I’m searching the net for the best motivational tactics employed by authors around the world. But first, let’s take a moment to discuss the role motivation plays in our writing. Particularly true with longer works, motivation is truly the key to success. We've all been there before. We begin a project that we feel has amazing potential, but as we progress through our project, little doubts begin creeping up in our minds: Is it good enough? Did I do the right thing? Another idea would be better. Not long after, we fizzle out and quit. The truth is that we're all going to experience doubt and other motivational issues. It’s how we cope with these issues that define who we are and what we're capable of.

Tactic 1: Piece out your Project         
      
Looking at a project in its entirety can be a huge blow to our confidence. A longer work, whether it be fiction or not, takes an incredible amount of time to complete. When we look at the big picture, the 60,000+ words that lie ahead of us, the task seems overwhelming. That’s why we have to break the project up into smaller, more doable portions. Writing a novel? Break it up into chapters, dedicate a certain amount of time for writing each day, or set yourself a word limit. There are numerous ways we can tell our brain that a longer piece of work really isn't as bad as it seems. Also, think of it this way, if you dedicate 1 hour every evening to writing, it might take up to 6 months to finish a novel. (Shorter or longer depending on how efficient you are.)  That may seem like a long time, but as days pass and you focus that one hour a day to writing, the next thing you know, the project has pulled itself together and is finished. What happens if you don’t spend that 1 hour writing? You’ll look back on the past 6 months and tell yourself, “Damn, if I would have simply followed that plan, I could be done by now.”

Tactic 2: Acknowledge moments of doubt and lack of focus

We begin projects with fire and passion. We work rigorously in an attempt to make it perfect, and at some point in time, something happens to dampen our mood and make us question ourselves. It’s sometimes difficult to notice when we begin to slip. Suddenly, we just don’t feel like working one day, or decide you need more time to plan. I have news for you: this is where it starts. One day off turns into two days off, and more time to plan sets the project back into its infant stages. My advice to you is to acknowledge these moments where you feel like slipping and get your butt in gear. I know it’s difficult, but longer projects need to become habit—something you simply do every day. Breaking that habit will only hurt your motivation and dedication to the project.

Tactic 3: Daydream

Spend your off time imagining what it’s going to be like when you finish the project. A lot of people would say, “Be realistic with your goals,” but I say, “Bullshit.” Don't be afraid to shoot for the starts or imagine what it would be like to reach your most out-of-reach goals. If you're like me, you have a wild imagination. I take events that have a very small percentage chance of ever happening—becoming a famous author, or creating a blog that’s featured all over the web—and blow them up into reachable goals. I figure, “if other people can do it, why can’t I,” and I believe that hard work and dedication is what gives us the best chance to get there. Now, this mindset also has some drawbacks. I'm also an extreme hypochondriac who, at one point or another, has been convinced that I’ve had some of the world’s most rare illnesses, but if you’re interested in that you can check out my article on authors and anxiety. Back to the point—don’t be afraid to dream in order to get yourself in gear!

Tactic 4: Motivational Quotes and Role Models

If you’re having trouble getting yourself motivated, use others instead. Other writers and bloggers can work as excellent role models if you let them. Simply look to an author you admire for the motivational boost you need. Can you replicate their success in your own, unique way? Not if you don’t try! Also, a quick Google search for motivational quotes can be good way to get yourself in the mood to be successful. I mean… it’s hard to argue with advice from the some of the most influential and successful people of all time, right?

Tactic 5: Evaluate the way you use your time.

This one is going to need some explaining so I’ll use myself as an example. I’m an avid gamer. I have been since I was very young. With the advancement of multiplayer games—games like WoW or League of Legends—people are spending more and more time in a virtual reality. When I consider the amount of time I’ve put into League of Legends, my heart breaks a little. Literally thousands of hours of my life have been spent slaying minions and taking down towers. BUT it’s not entirely a bad thing. I can use these thoughts as motivation moving forward. By knowing how I could be wasting my time doing something else, it’s easy to see that the work I really need to do is that much more important.

Tactic 6: Find an Accountability Buddy

Writing is a lonely existence. It really is. For most of us, we dwell on our own, imaginary worlds hoping that one day millions of others will be able to share it with us. For that reason, it’s difficult to hold yourself accountable for work that may never affect others. When you have a 9-5 day job, you know you HAVE to be at work at 9 a.m. There’s no way around it. But when there’s no one who is going to fire you for not getting that bit of text done, the need to work doesn’t feel so strong. Therefore, find a buddy who can motivate you to finish your projects and also find ways to humiliate you when you don’t.


There are many other ways to motivate yourself to do what you need to do. Whether you’re trying to write the next great American novel, or maybe lose a lot of weight, there’s many methods you can follow to achieve your goals. Now, it’s time to ignore my own advice and go play some League of Legends… I love that game… Don’t judge me. 

Writing, Anxiety, and Hypochondria: Are they Related?



The mental health of writers is something I've always been interested in. Since my early teens, I've been one of the most ridiculous hypochondriacs in the world. I constantly worry about every sign and symptom my body tells me about. As far as my mind is concerned, I've had every form of cancer at least once, I have heart failure and will likely fall over at any minute, and all other “rare” forms of diseases will likely include me in their statistics someday. It’s this persistence that my mind has that continues to force the, “highly unlikely,” into becoming the, “probably going to happen.”

But I can’t help but wonder, is there a correlation between writers of creative texts with hypochondria, anxiety, or sometimes even depression? I first thought about the topic when I was in college. I had a creative writing class under one of the most interesting men alive. This guy was slow to speak and careful with words. His tone was always mellow and monotone and yet there was no way to divert your attention. His random bursts into lyrical ballads about everything around: the walls, the trees, the birds outside, always had you wondering what in the world he was going to say next. Needless to say, he was one of my favorite professors.

We didn't meet in a classroom. No, he thought the writer should not be so isolated; their mind should not be encompassed by the walls around it. For that reason, he said we should go, “where we're able to best get released into our writing.”

I went home. Every. Single. Day.

But I wrote. I did what he asked. I went home and I wrote. I wrote short stories; I worked on a novel; I wrote poetry. It was an excellent class that let me go home and do something I did anyway; it was great. Throughout the year we met in the library on a number of occasions to review my portfolio. One piece of short fiction I had wrote was about a man who suffered from an anxiety disorder. Needless to say, this led me and my professor into a conversation about writers who struggle with these kinds of mental health issues. He said that he himself had suffered from hypochondria over the years. This made me wonder. Could it be our general mindset that makes both our creative talents and hypochondria possible?

As writers, we dwell in the realm of impossibility. I know that I’m constantly envisioning things that will never, ever, ever happen. I wonder what it would be like if I had super powers, or if zombies invaded the planet. Long car rides constantly causes me to consider fictional scenarios where the good guy is faced with an impossible decision, or what would happen if the bad guy actually won. Throw in a few doses of, “Oh shit I need to pay that bill,” or, “This mole looks kind of odd…,” and you essentially have my mind figured out.

There was another piece of evidence that I found interesting throughout my studies. Go back to the beginning of written literature and begin searching the demise of famous authors. You'll find that many of them killed themselves in some pretty gruesome ways. Ernest Hemingway put a shotgun in his mouth and Sylvia Plath placed her head in an oven and died from fumes.

But that’s not all. Look at this list of famous authors who have killed themselves. Are you serious?!? It’s huge! Even more interesting is the “Sylvia Plath effect,” coined by James Kaufman. In 2001, Kaufman noticed an interesting correlation between poets and mental health issues. While the study distinguishes a difference between poets and other creative writers, the article also states that creative writers in general have increased risk for mental health issues.

Now, before people start bashing me about using Wikipedia as a source, I've decided to include something a tad more reputable. Edward Hare published an article in the British Medical Journal entitled, “Creativity and Mental illness.” Throughout the article, Hare states there have been numerous studies that show mental illness is more commonly evident in creative people than those who aren’t. Also as a piece of evidence, he states, “[Researchers] found that the rate of admission to metal hospitals of college graduates were 6 times higher than the rest of the populace,” insinuating that those with creative talent or higher intelligence are more susceptible to forms of mental illness.

Of course, by no means am I indicating that I’m of “higher intelligence.” I can’t even peel an apple without cutting my fingers off. However, I do believe that people who have creative talents suffer in other forms of cognitive function. For example, my attention span is garbage, and I have an absolute awful since of direction. Seriously, I can’t run out to the nearest Taco Bell without a GPS.  


So, what says you reader? Are you a hypochondriac like me? Perhaps you’re a writer who has no anxiety issues whatsoever. I would love to hear about it!

Writing Fiction: Why Writers Should Turn to Video Games for Motivation

Seen on synergizmo.com

Writer’s block is nearly impossible to avoid. It happens to the best of us when we least expect it, usually right about the time that something really needs to get done. While unfortunate, it’s a simple part of the process that every writer has to endure in order to be somewhat successful, after all, “successful” is a pretty subjective term.

However, while writer’s block can be a real problem, I think it’s often mistaken for a lack of motivation and care. Yes, I know that sometimes you literally can't think of anything to write. I know that. There have been times where I have went through the alphabet over a dozen times just to remember someone’s name. Regardless, I still think that a lack of motivation is what causes most people to stare at a blank page, or screen, for an extended period of time. In other words, “I can’t think of anything,” is actually, “I don't really feel like thinking of anything.”

So how do we solve the problem? Writers have different ways of coping with a lack of motivation, but I turn to a hobby I've had since I was a small kid: video games.

I find certain types of video games to be very influential in my writing. As people write, we essentially play out the scenarios in our head then simply find a way to get our readers to picture the same image. The lovely thing about video games is that it’s already done for us. We get an idea of how a scenario might play out on screen which in turn might get the creative juices flowing for our own fictional worlds.

Video games also have excellent story lines. Well, some do. There are many that are awful, but most video games have excellent character development, engaging plot lines, and tide-changing conflicts. Copying a story is wrong; it really is. But there’s nothing wrong from gaining motivation from a certain text- whether it be a movie, a book, or a game. Mimicry is the best form of compliment.

Not a gamer? That’s ok. Movies can help as well, but personally, I feel more attached to a character in a game or book than I do a movie. It’s probably due to the length of time we’re with them. I feel this attachment we have with certain characters can help us better understand our own work, and in turn, allow us to relate our characters to our readers in a similar way.

So, with that being said, what gives you motivation? Do share it with me in the comments. I would love to hear.


Writing Lore: How to Convey Information to Your Readers



When developing and writing lore for a fictional universe, it's sometimes difficult for writers to convey their information to their readers. If your universe is fresh and new, it's important for you to understand one key aspect about the demographic you're writing to-- they know nothing about your universe. When you first start writing fictional work, it's important work out the details regarding the conveyance of your information. In my opinion, there's really just two acceptable ways to accomplish this-- through action and dialogue.

Readers learn about your universe in one of two ways depending on the point of view of your story. If it's in first person like Of Things Man Made, the reader will gain information about the world around them through the main character-- either through their thoughts or their own learning experience. If the story is in third person, the reader will learn through the dialogue and actions of central character- very little information should be shared solely through the narrator. (If you need help with character development, check out OTMM: 5 Tips for Character Development in Fiction.)

Giving information in a first person narrative:

When a reader is reading a narrative in first person your reader will grow based on your main character. As your main character learns through experience, whether it be from the dialogue of another character or through an action they take, the reader will learn as well. It's simply important to remember that actions prompt dialogue. It's unlikely a pair of character will randomly begin discussing events from the past. For that reason, there needs to be an action (something occurs) that prompts the characters to engage in discussion. This allows readers to become interested in the event and ultimately want to know more about what's going on. If there's no action, it simply becomes more boring dialogue. Writing lore is about finding interesting ways to convey sometimes boring text.

Conveying Lore and Backstory:

Conveying information, and writing lore can be tough. Particularly if your universe spans through centuries of detailed information. For that reason, it's important that the reader have enough information to stand on as the story begins- perhaps a short dialogue, whether it be internally or between two characters- or through simple observation. Once the reader has enough information to be engaged in the text, you can begin filtering in information about your world as the plot advances. Simply put, you shouldn't have pages and pages of lore filled text at the beginning of your narrative. This is bad for two reasons: 1) It's boring, and 2) the readers has nothing interesting left to learn.

Writing lore asks that readers grow with your characters. By doing this, you create a steady stream of interesting information that will keep them engaged for the full text. Simply choose a point of view, give your readers enough information to start, and begin trickling in information through actions, observations, dialogue, and pesky plot twists.


OTMM Bonus Episode 4

*This is a bonus series episode that takes place elsewhere in the OTMM universe. It occurs between OTMM episodes 17 and 18. It is a bonus to the main plot and is not needed in order to understand the main events.

Gower and Chomper stood at the entrance of a long tunnel. They had been hunkered down in hiding since the eruption of cheers and screaming that applauded in its depths. Several small trackers stood at their feet.
Gower finally grew some nerve and stepped over to the edge of the doorway. His dark purple skin and short round frame made him much more difficult to see than Chomper’s pale green hue.

Chomper followed closely behind bumping suddenly against the series of sharp spikes that lined Gower’s outer shell.

“Ouch!” He hissed, giving Gower a slight push.

“SHH! What are you doing?” Gower replied giving him a dirty look before turning his attention back to the doorway, “The trackers seem to think they're in there…”

Chomper, who stood slightly taller than Gower, leaned over his partner and looked.

“What do you think we should do?”

“Duh! We have to report this back to the boss! What if the humans are somehow in league with the petal-dwellers?”

Chomper snorted sarcastically, “That’s not possible.”

“Why? Why is it not possible?” Gower exclaimed definitively.

“Because, they're humans, that’s why. They only know one thing, obey and be eaten. That’s it.”

“Have you forgotten about Tel’dar?” Gower said looking back into the tunnel, “idiot.”

Chomper shook his head and decided to let it go.

A slight pitter-patter in the water caught the duo’s attention. They looked behind them, but nothing was there. Gower breathed loudly while Chomper’s constant shaking sent ripples in the water around their feet. Without warning a long dart came whizzing past sticking into the wall beside them with a thud. Out of the corner of their eye, they could see two tall forms speeding toward them.

“Petal-dwellers!” Chomper screamed, turning to flee. Gower did the same. Both knew their kind didn’t have the speed to escape, but it was something they had to do. They ran as fast as their short, stubby legs would carry them. The trackers, at only nearly a foot in height, took off mindlessly with blazing speed.

Step by step they constantly looked to one another for confidence and comfort. Finally, they stopped just under a small beam of light that came travelling from a crack in the ceiling. They figured they had made into Camp Kilja’s domain.

Nothing was behind them.

They breathed harshly, rapidly looking in all directions around them.

“They're gone!” Chomper said.


Gower shook his head, “No…. they don’t fight in the open. They're waiting for us to get into a darker area. Run! Avoid the shade!  

Conducting Free Long Tail Keyword Research for Content Writers

Image from seomoz.org


Long tail keywords are a cornerstone of any online marketing effort. With larger websites dominating the market for primary keywords, the little man has to rely on more focused search queries in order to get a piece of the pie. While many people are interested in the process of long tail keywords, their search for information is typically bombarded by paid services. There is, however, a way for small business owners to conduct free long tail keyword research. Let’s take a look:

Google Adwords Keyword Tool is your best friend when conducting free long tail keyword research. While the tool is primarily designed for Google Adwords marketing efforts, it can also be used to determine the general number of searches a long tail keyword gets per month. This information is invaluable when determining whether or not a marketer should focus on a particular keyword phrase.

The keyword tool is excellent, but what if you simply can’t think of anything to write about? That’s where Google suggest comes in. Every time you conduct a new search, Google automatically begins suggesting relevant terms for your search. This is an excellent way for researchers to turn a general topic into a more specific marketing effort and it’s one of the best forms of free long tail keyword research tactics available.

Having competition is never a good thing. In a perfect world, we would rank at the top of Google’s search results for every keyword we focus. Unfortunately, it’s not, and ranking highly for any keyword is a lot of work. However, there is one good aspect to having a little competition—there’s always someone to learn from. There’s always a website out there that’s gaining the type of traffic you would love to have, so simply examine the competition—the keywords they focus and the way they optimize their page- in order to gain a better understating of your market.

With so many tools available to your disposal, using paid tools to conduct long tail keyword research might be a waste of your money. However, time is a different issue all together. Writing articles is a serious investment of time, and some bloggers/web developers would rather spend their time promoting the content they already have rather than writing fresh, new content. In a world where both are necessary in order to keep a steady flow of visitors to your site, it’s possible that hiring a freelance writer is an excellent option for you and your small business.

Interested in long term keyword information? http://www.wordstream.com/long-tail-keywords



Content Mill List: The Good and the Bad.

A good content mill list can really make the difference between a writer wasting their time or actually making a little money. Now, when I say “making a little money,” I mean very little money. Unless you want to invest a ridiculous amount of time and effort into writing for these sites, don’t plan on paying your rent with them. However, if you simply enjoy writing, it’s a fun hobby that can buy you lunch every once and awhile.

Yahoo! Voices

At the time of my writing, Yahoo! Voices was actually Associated Content. I wrote on and off here for a couple of years. Because I was still in college, and this was the first content mill I had come across, I was very excited when I realized there was actually potential to make a little money writing small articles. Yahoo! Voices has several options available to writers—you can submit your work for upfront payment, or you can submit it for performance payments only. You can also limit the usage rights so that you can retain the right to publish elsewhere granted you don't submit for upfront payment. Yahoo! Voices is a fun site to start out on. I actually enjoyed my time writing there. They have a nifty little leveling up system that makes a poor attempt to make the writer feel like they're accomplishing something, but in the end, it’s actually kind of fun to see your account grow over time. Performance payments are typically around $1.50 per 1000 views, so you’ll more than likely only build pennies here and there from these kinds of bonuses. Upfront payments usually ranged from $3-$5.

Verdict: Yahoo! Voices is a fun site for those who look at content writing as a hobby only. Yes, you’ll make a few dollars here and there, and no, it’s not a scam. However, Yahoo! Voices does take advantage of the fact that writers are desperate for work these days. With a little more effort and some networking, your articles could be worth substantially more.  



Helium

Helium has changed dramatically over time. During my time writing for content mills, I mostly wrote for Yahoo! Voices, but ventured over to Helium every once in a while to change things up. At the time, Helium only paid performance bonuses, but a quick look at their website has shown that they have changed their platform up a bit. They now offer exclusive assignments, a marketplace for freelance writers, performance bonuses, and incentive payments.

Verdict: Several years ago I would told you to avoid Helium as a writing platform, but it has changed so much that it’s difficult for me to give an honest assessment. If you’re interested in trying it, you can sign up here:



Demand Studios

Demand Studios was the first content mill I found that you had to apply to in order to accept jobs and submit content. At first, I thought I had struck gold. They offered $15 per article and you got to write for sites such as ehow and Livestrong. However, the site managed to diminish greatly over time. Eventually they changed their platform and the vast number of jobs that were once available seemingly vanished. I quit writing for them once it got to the point where finding assignments was more work than writing the actual content.
Verdict: Now, it seems you must become qualified just to gain access to certain areas of the site. It’s possible that Demand Studios could be for you if you want to work a little harder and gain a little more cash than sites like Yahoo! Voices. I plan to do a little exploring of Demand Studios in the future to see what this update is all about.


Constant Content

Constant Content is my favorite content site to write for. You’re able to write freely about mostly anything and place it on their market place for interested buyers. There’s only one catch—their super picky editorial team. In order to get an article accepted in their system, you must look over your article with a fine-toothed comb to ensure there are no grammatical errors. I’m serious- one comma out place? Rejected. However, if you can get past this little bump in the road, there’s actually potential to make some decent money here. Articles typically sell anywhere from $10 to $70 based on your own professional opinion—you set your own prices. There are also public and private requests for content.

Verdict: If you have excellent grammatical skills, Constant Content is a content mill that could pay off for you. The only downside is the unreliability of sales. I had an articles sit for over a year once before it finally sold. You can apply here:



Content mill lists are everywhere. A quick search will allow you to perhaps discover a few that aren’t listed here, or gain a fresh perspective on what works and what doesn’t. It’s really up to you to explore these sites and see if there’s any money making potential. Or, you can simply start your own site and write content for yourself. The potential for writers to make a living is out there; it’s just really hard to find.