Wednesday, March 07, 2007

But What's My Motivation?

As writers we spend a lot of time talking about getting motivated to right. What sparks our motivation? How do we stay motivated? Well, you're familiar with the questions.

What other profession asks these questions?

Lawyer: I'm sorry, I can't try your case today, I just don't feel motivated. The litigation muse isn't speaking to me.

Doctor: Uh oh, I've lost my motivation in the middle of this heart transplant, darn it.

Burger flipper: I'm not motivated to put pickles on this whopper, how about lettuce instead?

Mother: I'm not motivated to get up and take care of the kids. There's a box of cookies in the pantry for breakfast, I'm going back to bed. Okay, so maybe that one does happen.

Anyway, as unpublished writers we have the luxury of saying we don't feel motivated to write. Our muse has skipped town for a weekend in Vegas. Okay, but what happens when we sign a contract? Are we going to tell an editor we missed our deadline because we weren't motivated to write? I'm sure they will be real understanding.

Lack of motivation is a pretty excuse writers like to use because other writers can commiserate. I use it all the time, but I think it is also a poisonous excuse, it grows, spreads, changes our brain chemicals, whatever. I think when we say we don't have any motivation to write, we are saying something else. I'm too tired to write. I don't feel like writing, I'd rather watch "American Idol." There is too much going on emotionally for me to focus on my writing. Motivation is the will and desire to write. If we lacked that, we wouldn't be writers at all. I think we have the motivation but it is blocked by many other things. The will and desire to write is interrupted by the things around us or our own displeasure with what we are writing.

If you truly lack the motivation to write, then you need to really look closely at what you're doing. Is the project you're working on really the right one for you? I find that's my biggest problem, my reason for no motivation. Or you are expecting too much. Maybe you've set a goal for so many words a day or pages a week and it is too daunting. That could kill your motivation to write.

But if the project is one you like and feel good about, then motivation isn't the issue, its something else and it is okay to admit it. You may quit writing for an hour, a day, a week, a month, but recognize your reasons for what they are. If you look at what is behind your lack of motivation, you might be able to resolve them and get back to writing.

Here's my usual. I don't feel motivated to write. I also don't feel motivated to clean house either. However, I would feel motivated to write if I had a clean house. So I should clean the house. I don't want to clean the house, but I can't write unless the house is clean. Its a circle and sometimes the housecleaning gets done and I write, everything is in balance again. Sometimes my lack of interest in cleaning house wins and no writing gets done. My lack of motivation to write is actually my lack of interest in cleaning up my house. I have two choices at that moment, either get over the write-in-a-clean-house issue or clean the damn house.

Next time you think perhaps you aren't motivated to write, take a closer look and see if there might be something else going on.

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