Weekend Writing Inspiration: 7 Mindset Perspectives to Motivate Your Writing
July 16, 2020
Between the pandemic, sweeping societal upheavals, and general world news, it is a massive understatement to say there’s a lot going on right now. It’s easy to get derailed or give up hope. A few weeks ago, I wrote about ways to stay productive and take care of your mental health at the same time.
Building on that theme, today I’m sharing seven mindset perspectives to help you stay motivated to write. Use these thoughts to counter any conflicting thoughts, feelings or self-doubt about your work so you can keep doing what you were put here to do.
- Writing is an act of optimism
When you write, even in the face of intense global uncertainty, it’s a way of expressing your belief in the future; not only for the human race as a whole, but also for your own future as a writer and your writing.
It could well be blind optimism (we really can’t know, after all, what will happen), but the alternative — giving up in despair — is much harder on your mental health and well-being. Holding writing as an act of optimism is about making a conscious, deliberate choice to believe that the world will continue to be a place that needs and wants your stories, even as our industry evolves and shifts to the circumstances we’re living with.
Trust that you’ll adapt as the world does — it’s okay to be a realistic optimist — but lean on writing as your beacon of hope and belief in an ultimately positive outcome.
- Writing is an act of learning and growth
No writing is ever wasted, no matter if it ends up cut or abandoned. This is because every word you put on the page is about learning and growing as a writer. Scriptwriting, journaling, free writing, and writing about your writing; it all has value.
Even if you end up deciding that your current script-in-progress no longer fits the times we’re living in, that script has gotten you from where you were as a writer when you started it to where you are as a writer now, with all the knowledge and experience you’ve gained along the way. And it may well be something you come back to later on with fresh eyes, even if you set it aside for now.
- Writing is an act of investment
Writing screenplays and teleplays is an investment of time, energy and focus. It’s something that typically pays off in the longer term. Even with all that’s going on, writing right now is a way of protecting the investment you’ve already made, while continuing to invest in your screenwriting future. Writing builds your skill set, repertoire of scripts, career, and confidence. It’s worth continuing to put your time into.
- Writing is an act of identity
When you write, you remind yourself of who you are: a writer. Staying in touch with yourself at level of purpose is grounding, centering and strengthening. Even in the midst of disrupted day jobs, increased childcare responsibilities, intense news cycles, social change, and everything else that’s happening, your ability and commitment to “keep doing you” helps create a sense of normalcy and calm in a sea of chaos.
Remember that even the smallest increments of writing are a worthy effort. They move you that much closer to seeing your screenplay out in the world. So if you find yourself faltering, remind yourself of both these ideas: Small amounts of writing matter, and that writing reinforces your identity.
- Writing is an act of protest
With protestors in the streets all over the world, remember that writing is another way to protest, especially for those who feel less comfortable taking to the streets but still want to make their voices heard. Putting words to the page is a way of speaking up about important topics and telling stories that illustrate the issues we’re facing. (One of the reasons I love science fiction is the profound way it allows us to explore complex social issues from a place that’s one step removed from regular life, beyond even what fiction based in realism can do.)
Writing is also an act of protest in the sense that it’s a way of refusing to give up, to keep doing what we believe in and love, even in the face of discouragement or even oppression. We need diverse voices more than ever right now to speak up and be heard.
- Writing is an act of making sense of the world
Fiction is one of the most powerful ways we have of understanding the world. As Lisa Cron says in her book Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, stories “are how we make strategic sense of the otherwise overwhelming world around us” and “allow us to simulate intense experiences without actually having to live through them.”
When we write, read and watch stories, we get to “try on” our responses to possible life events. Stories help us make sense of what could happen and how we might react in the same circumstances.
- Writing is an act of service and healing
Art serves as a vehicle for healing in all its iterations.
As a writer, whether you confront difficult emotions through your storytelling, detail storylines to explore “what ifs” that, up until now, seemed impossible, or entertain through comedy and lighthearted tales, you’re contributing to the well-being of your readers and the people around you.
When you write, you support yourself by processing, exploring and working out your feelings, perspectives, and ideas. This means you, and the people around you, get to deal with a happier you. It also means that your audience gets the benefit of living vicariously through your stories, and dealing with their own healing, when needed. Sometimes that looks like bursting into tears over a tragic ending, or rooting for a hero to overcome. It can also look like 120 minutes of laughing in pure, unbridled delight.
Healing comes in many forms.
Your weekend writer’s assignment
This weekend, reflect on your current mindset about your writing. Are you forging ahead, all systems go? Good for you! Keep going! Are you telling yourself something that’s holding you back from writing? If so, adjust. What can you tell yourself to shift your perspective, perhaps drawing from the list of ideas above, and help yourself stay motivated to write? You might even craft a list of affirmations to use to remind yourself.
Written by: Jenna AveryJenna Avery is a screenwriter who specializes in sci-fi action and space fantasy, and her most recent project is a post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story for a Canadian producer-director. Jenna is also a writing coach and the founder of Called to Write, where she has helped hundreds of writers overcome procrastination, perfectionism, and resistance so they can get their writing onto the page and into the world where it belongs. Jenna writes about writing and fulfilling your creative calling at calledtowrite.com, writes for ScriptMag and Final Draft, and teaches at Script University. Download Jenna’s free guidebooks for writers, including “How to Choose Your Next Book (or Script!)” when you join her mailing list at https://www.calledtowrite.com/mailing-list