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Motivation Boards: A Visual Kick in the Pants

Photo: Perfecto Insecto | Flickr

As writers, few things that we face are more difficult to overcome than the simple act of finding motivation. We live in a world so full of distractions–good and bad–that it’s nearly impossible at times to shirk our responsibilities and say no to friends and family in order to sit down and focus on our craft.

But we must.

So, the question is–how? How do we find the motivation to write? We started a free, monthly writing motivation newsletter earlier this year just to help everyone with this all important quest. This month we thought we’d share the newsletter with everyone in the hopes that we can all get inspired!

Our suggestion for May is to create a visual reminder of all the reasons why you want to write. It can be digital (make it your desktop background to gain inspiration each time you open your computer) or an old-fashioned cut and paste board. Either way, it should be a personalized source of inspiration for you to reference on days when your motivational tank is running on empty.

As an example, I created a digital board for myself:

Self-publishing motivation

What’s on my motivation board and why…

  1. Finished Product: Like a runner who focuses on the finish line, I created a book cover image for the novel I’m currently working on. I can look at it and imagine what it will be like to see the completed product (hopefully on an NY Times Best-Seller list).
  2. Idol Inspiration: My writing style draws from the sound of my own voice as well as those of a few favorite authors of mine, including Joshilyn Jackson and Carl Hiaasen. I added them to remind me not only of their writing styles that I love so much, but because I know at one time they too were struggling authors.
  3. Go Green (with Envy): With more and more reality stars and pseudo-celebrities writing best-sellers, I find myself turning increasingly green with envy. But instead of letting my jealousy fester, I choose instead to use it as motivation to drive myself toward my goals. New life motto: If Snooki can do it, so can I.
  4. Reaping the Rewards: We all hope that our writing successes will bring with them financial successes as well. Nothing astronomical (we can’t all be J.K. Rowling, unfortunately) but a little more financial stability would be nice. I dream of owning a house (the picture above is from my dream neighborhood in St. Augustine) along with FSU football season tickets and traveling a little more. But I can’t have any of those things if I don’t get that best-seller written!
  5. Written Recognition: What author (aside from Jonathan Franzen) doesn’t dream of being in Oprah’s Book Club?
  6. Love & Support: My family, friends and of course our wonderful community and Duolit motivate me each and every day to keep reaching for my goals. I think a lot of you out there might feel the same. It’s a great feeling to know you have so many people in your corner.
  7. Kickin’ Quote: I always take inspiration from quotes, especially from some of my favorite authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson. This is one of many quotes I keep close by to give me that extra burst of energy when I need it most.

So what would your motivation board include? Do you already have one? Send us pictures or share your favorite forms of visual motivation in the comments below. You know we always love to hear from you!

I’m going to try to keep up with everyone on Twitter this week while Toni is soaking up the sun on her cruise vacation (lucky duck!), but if I miss a message or a RT I apologize in advance. :-)

Have a Happy May and sign up for our motivation newsletter if you would like to receive a monthly kick in the pants from your friends at Duolit.

Later days,

– Shannon


  • Thanks for the great idea! I think I’ll try an old-school collage of motivation.

    I did have a bulletin board containing pics from magazines to represent characters in my book and some setting pics too. It was helpful for a while, but the board is sitting somewhere in a dusty corner of the office now.

    You’ve inspired me to give it another try :)

  • Shannon

    Hi Sharon! I’m glad we were able to inspire you to try a motivation board :-) Just putting mine together made me feel so much better. I think your idea of having a board with representations of your novel and characters is a great idea, too. I might have to give that a try!

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  • Very cute idea!

  • I don’t have any images on my desk to inspire me, but I write about pop culture so just seeing the news motivates me a lot of the time. I have two favourite quotes posted on my desk that also provide motivation:

    It is never too late to be what you might have been.—George Eliot

    Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. — Thomas Edison

  • Amanda Hocking mentioned using a Vision Board using pictures from magazine pictures. How did you make the one for your desktop? It sounds very inspiring. I used a NaNoWriMo Calendar to get me to finish a story throughout November on my desktop and that helped a TON. I loved this article!

  • Love this idea! Now to decide whether to do it digitally or on an actual board!

    • Toni

      Thanks for commenting, Kea! Let us know which way you end up deciding to go with your motivation board. We’d love to see it!