The 6 questions to ask yourself when motivation is lacking

Journalists report stories using the tried-and-true questions who, what, where, when, why and how. This way, they're sure to cover the basics of any story so their readers aren't left with unanswered questions about the subject.

You may not be writing about crime and corruption, but the same journalistic questions can get you out of a writing rut by helping foster the right atmosphere for writing. This goes for:

  • Creative writing
  • Content marketing
  • Blogging
Journalists report stories using the tried-and-true questions who, what, where, when, why and how. This way, they're sure to cover their story's basics so readers aren't left in confusion. The same journalistic questions can get you out of a writing rut by helping foster the right atmosphere for writing.

When asking yourself who, what, where, when, why and how, I really encourage you to take time with each. When you prompt yourself with "who," for example, rest in it. Let that first word "Who ..." roll across your tongue. The full question you need to ask yourself will rise; I promise.

I chose to stop caring about all the milestones other people were holding me to and focus on what I want to do with my life.
Christine Herrin

"Who" is the question I've grappled with the most, often playing the comparison game. Today, if I start with "Who ..." the full question that floats up for me is "Who says writing has to look a certain way?" The answer? No one! It's one of the things we talk about in The One-Week Daily Writing Devotional, how writing can look like reading, gardening, taking a walk, visiting a museum -- anything creative or stimulating that will feed your literal writing later.

For me, it helps lift the strict burden of desk+chair+computer from my shoulders. Oy, was it ever heavy!

Your energies should be directed entirely at your own work. The success or failure of others will not make a new sentence appear from your fingertips.
— Colum McCann

Here are some questions I've asked myself. Maybe they'll help you, too:

Who?

Who do I need to cancel plans with to make room to write?

Who can I delegate a task to in order to free up time?

Who is going to write this story if I don't?

What?

What does my audience need guidance with?

What type of content do my readers seek?

What is truly the barrier to me sitting down to write, if I'm honest with myself?

Where?

Where can I find a quiet space to create?

Where are my readers spending time online, and do I have a sufficient presence there?

Where does my mind go when I attempt yet fail to write?

When?

When makes the most sense to work with my energy levels?

When do I want to deliver this content?

When will I decide that I'm no longer engaged in this project and begin a new one? (These 7 questions might help make this decision.)

Why?

Why am I the right, most knowledgable person to tell this story?

Why do I want to tell this story (and do I still want to)?

Why am I avoiding this project (lack of engagement, not sure of the next plot point, flat characters, guilt about other commitments, etc.)?

How?

How can I get one step closer to making writing a routine?

How can I create more relatable characters? (This free character profile worksheet can be an asset!)

How will I incorporate a regular writing routine in a way that my loved ones and/or colleagues expect and respect?

What other questions are you asking about your current project?

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