As nonprofits, the content we write needs to evoke an emotional, empathetic and deep response from within our audience.
When we are writing content for our websites, a case for support or a grant, we need to be able to write clearly, effectively, and empathetically. Our writing needs to inspire someone to take action like when we are writing a donation appeal or content for a website. The passion that we feel about helping constituents and impacting a positive change in our communities has to underline the whole piece.
Unfortunately, staying motivated to write can be tough, especially in a sector where we are regularly being asked to push ourselves emotionally and are being pulled in a bunch of different ways at once. With a to do list the size of Mount Everest, it’s easy to prioritize other work over writing.
In my opinion, one of the important aspects of staying motivated and writing strong content is to not force yourself to write if you can help it. I believe that creative writing should be organic and inspired. When you are forcing yourself to write when you aren’t motivated, your writing reflects that. The organic passion and excitement about the topic is stifled when you have to drag yourself through a post, letter or a document.
Since you can tell when a writer is unmotivated and uninspired, I would argue that it could make the difference between getting a grant or donation and not.
I have found that this is very true of myself. When I am unmotivated about what I am writing, I tend to repeat myself and the excitement I feel about my day-to-day activities just doesn’t translate into an engaging article or document.
So what can we do about this? There are five things that I do to deal with lack of motivation to write:
1. Proactively, I keep a folder of past successful documents to look at. For fundraising, having a folder of success stories that you can look at and write about helps take a lot of the creative burden off of you and you can talk about how the organization helped a specific person. If you are trying to keep yourself motivated, keep a folder of letters of recommendation from friends and past employers to remind you that you are awesome! If you have some articles or quotes that you find really inspire and motivate you, either keep them in a folder or print them out so you can post them around your desk. You can also use this tactic to keep a folder of inspiring stories and quotes from your subject matter to jumpstart your creativity.
2. If it is something that you can put off until you feel motivated, then do that! I would rather spend my time getting some other work done rather than wasting my time on a half sincere piece of writing that I will end up rewriting or scrapping later anyway!
3. If you can’t put it off, find a way to get motivated. One of the best ways I have found to do that is to put myself back in front of the beneficiaries I am writing about. I spend time hanging out with the kids. I listen to the stories about the impact the organization had on women being supported during their breast cancer treatment. I speak with the organizations founder about why they started the organization in the first place. By getting the warm, fuzzy feeling going inside me, I find it much easier to transfer that feeling into my writing.
4. If you have to get it done in a few hours (hopefully you don’t let it get that bad, but I also totally get that it happens) then start by writing in bullet points. Write out the hard points you want to hit and from there, start building out the ideas. Take short breaks where you walk away from your computer if you feel the last bits of motivation leaving you.
5. Ask someone else to come help you. Bounce ideas off of them as you write out your points. Use them to create a dialogue that will help you better explain the points you are trying to hit.
Having a few good ways to stay motivated and inspired helps us stay engaged with our work while also saving our sanity.
How do you stay motivated when it comes to writing, storytelling or creating content? Let me know in the comments below!