Thursday, January 10, 2013

Three Steps To Keep Myself Motivated

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Sometimes writing feels like that for me---there are days when I'm flying through the pages, days when i'm running, then walking, and finally just crawling to the keyboard to write a page or two if I'm lucky.  This has been tough sometimes when I'm under a deadline or needing to finish. But then I discovered something.

I am much more internally motivated.

I can promise myself all sorts of external treats and rewards for finishing things, (and that's not a bad thing) but for the most part, it comes right down to the feeling of satisfaction I get when the writing is flowing as opposed to the feeling of frustration when it isn't.  I want the satisfaction more than the frustration, and that's where my internal motivator comes in.

In order to keep the frustration at bay, and to want to sit down and get my story out and have it keep flowing after the initial chapters, I have to have a plan.  I have to have done some research and a general outline to know where I'm going.  Then I'll get the satisfaction and inner motivation I'm looking for.  If I've missed a step, all I'll get is frustration as I crawl along aimlessly.

So, today I am going to follow three steps to motivate myself:

  • Visualize the ending.
  • Do my research for character and setting purposes.  Use notes to keep myself focused.
  • Make a plan to get to the already visualized end in the form of a general outline.

I know if I follow these steps, my motivation will increase and I'll have more than zero to report at the next Word Count Wednesday.

What motivators do you use?


Debra Erfert said...

It seems like I've been doing so much "visualizing" my head hurts. So far the only part of my dream that has come true has been on contractual paper and nothing else. My first book has been postponed yet again. I'm beginning to wonder if it is real and not something I've talked myself into believing because I've wanted it so badly. This kind of thinking really cuts into the motivation I need to write that next chapter, you know what I mean? I have two conferences coming up, and pitches I've signed up for that now I find more than disheartening to think about.

Zero word count--again.

Konstanz Silverbow said...

Awesome ways to keep motivated! My biggest motivator? Something that James A. Owen said: Don't give up what you want most, for what you want most at that moment."

Whenever I feel like giving up I ask myself what do I want most and the answer is "To finish. To say that I completed a novel. To be published." and it inspires me to keep going.

Konstanz Silverbow

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Debra, I know how you feel. But, for me, concentrating on the next book did help with the disheartening feelings of people postponed. :( Keep us updated, okay?

Konstanz, thanks for those thoughts. You're totally right, how we speak internally to ourselves is just as important in reaching our goals!

Jordan McCollum said...

I've been thinking about this for a while, and a few weeks ago I heard a snippet of a radio program where they said that type of external motivation isn't effective for complex tasks.

"Writing" might seem like a simple task—write down words!—but in reality, I think it's a lot more complex. It's a thousand little decisions over the next word, the next character action, the next reaction, the next step in the story.

This might be why external motivators don't work super well for me, either. I enjoy them when I earn them, but I enjoy them if I cheat and have them anyway, and I don't feel deprived if I actually forget them (yep, happens—I still have my treat for finishing NaNo languishing in the freezer, never opened two months later).

Sometimes I use Rachel Aaron's method of sketching out the little decisions before I start writing, so I don't have to figure out what the character is going to do or say AND pick all the right words at the same time. I wonder . . . maybe if I sketch out those thousand little decisions, get a treat, write, get a treat . . . hm......