Monday, January 27, 2014

Finding Motivation

Middle child at 5, proud of his piano skills,
and oh, so motivated.
Growing up, we had a rule at my house. When you turned 5, you took piano. Hard and fast. I couldn't wait for my turn . . . until it actually came.
Then I hated it.
Hated that I was forced to waste precious daylight hours practicing the piano when I could be doing something much more important such as playing in the ditch with my friends.
I was 9 when I convinced my mom that I was wasting my time and her money (and I believe my piano teacher told my mom the same thing). I got to quit.
Which I appreciated until I found a piece of music I really wanted to play.* Suddenly I spent hours at the piano learning how to play it.
And then there was another song I loved, but the sheet music was terrible! I wanted to play what I heard on the radio. Next thing I know, I'm begging my dad for lessons on playing by ear.**
The point of all this is that when I wanted something, I found the motivation to spend time learning and practicing a skill. And it was FUN.
So let's get to the point. I love writing. I do. I love creating a new world that I (and hopefully others) can get lost in. I love meeting my characters and discovering their secrets. I love that feeling of satisfaction at having gotten the words just right . . . of having made someone laugh or cry or think or whatever it is. I love it.
Even so, sometimes I lose my motivation. I want to write. I want to immerse myself in that world, but I struggle to make myself actually do it.
So the question is why? Why do I struggle to make myself do something I love?
Honestly, I don't know why . . . but I have some theories.
  • Winter doldrums: Totally real thing.*** It's cold. I'm tired. There's less daylight, and I'm getting less vitamin D. Winter is winter, and aren't we supposed to hibernate or something?
  • Sheer laziness: Writing is work.**** Sometimes I just don't want to work. I want to laze about and catch up on those seasons of Sherlock I've missed.*^5 I'm sure you understand.
  • My long-term goal is messing with my head: My overall goal is to finish. But when I think of the twenty bajillion more rounds of revisions I have to face in order to reach that goal . . . well, you can see why I just want to curl up in a ball, rock back and forth, and hum Kumbaya. It's overwhelming!
  • I have kids: Yeah, this one's pretty self-explanatory. But it never fails . . . I'm just getting in the zone when the call of the wiley one echoes through the house: "MOM! Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum! Can. You. Come. Wipe. My. Bot. Tom." Yep, she yells it just like that. And when I go to her, she tells me that she yelled it just like that. She's pretty proud of that little rhyme. Gosh . . . I should use that in a picture book. ;)

So I could go on.*^6 But the point is, there are plenty of excuses we can use for why we didn't write. We need to find that one thing that keeps us going. We need to find that one song that motivates us. That one challenge that has us begging for more writing time. Because isn't that why we started on this road in the first place?

What is your motivation?

*It may or may not have been "Part of this World" from Little Mermaid, and I may or may not have sung this song incessantly at the time. But you'll never know for sure. ;)

**My dad's an amazingly accomplished musician and I don't mind bragging on him a bit.

***This is actually the reason that I doubt my ability to live in Alaska or anywhere way up North. How do you people do it?

****This it a totally true thing, too. ;)

*^5 That would refer to every season. So you can see why I really need to catch up.

*^6  Seriously. I swear I didn't just stare at the screen for five minutes trying to come up with a fifth theory.


S.A. Larsenッ said...

Trust me. I totally relate to you.

What keeps me writing? I think it's two things, for me: the successes I've already been blessed with and personal therapy. lol

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Great post!

When I am stuck in a WIP and trying to force myself to move on, just because I feel like I MUST keep writing ... it's like torture.

But if I can think of ONE thing coming up in the story -- a scene or a piece of dialogue or even a snarky comment by my MC that is (in my mind) really funny -- then I find that I can work towards that fun bit I want to write and somehow power through the block.

Crystal Collier said...

LOL. I know what you mean. When I quit piano lessons, I started composing. Sometimes we have to cut the structure to discover creativity. I find when I'm having a hard time writing, I'm pressuring myself with a deadline and I have to just relax and write for fun. It comes eventually.

Old Kitty said...

It's a cliche but truly "no pain, no gain"! :-) The rewards are amazing, the creation excruciating! I could go on! LOL!

Sending you tons of positive energy and vibes to keep on at it! Take care

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Arrgghh! This is all so true! We love to write, so why is it so hard? I have all the exact same excuses you do, plus an additional one: I'm afraid of getting it wrong! I'm afraid that I won't be able to get the great idea in my head to come out great on paper and then the idea will be ruined. I blame winter (at the moment!... but there's always something :)) So i just write anyway. And hope for the best. And revise A LOT. And take forever to send anything on to my agent :)

MikeS said...

Wow, my kids better never learn that rhyme. We'd never hear the end of it.

Slamdunk said...

You hit the nail on the head with the kids lines. For any parent, sitting down for a few moments involves also just waiting for the children to summon you away. It is difficult to motivate and stay focused.

Lily Whalen said...

This totally resonates with me. But what ultimately motivates me is the burning urge to get my thoughts out on 'paper'. It's so strong it has to overcome laziness, doldrums and kids :)

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

An interesting post that I enjoyed reading.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

Marcia said...

Yeah, 'cause it's work and we know how far we have to go. The book THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield talks all about the Resistance, yup capitalized, that any sort of artist encounters.