You’re the BEST!
If you’re reading this blog, you may be interested in witnessing the perils and pleasures of writing toward authorship. Well, that’s what I’m here for! This whole thing documents the concentrated effort of storying (WordPress doesn’t like this word, but I DO!) and will include the process toward publication after the blood has dried, along with some other adventures on the way!
Acting on the desire to write for publication is the coolest and hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do for myself. It’s so easy to put off one’s personal aspirations to deal with life’s necessities, and at times, I even forget that I’m allowed to dream. Then, the haze of fatigue rises, I’m clear-headed and spry, and I nudge this Want awake with shaky fingers.
To my surprise, the more often I wake the Want, the more it demands companionship. Forget this hibernation thing. Even cat naps are for suckers. Its preference (and mine) is full awareness, and I’ve got to say, I’m really enjoying the constant coaxing of Something More.
That paragraph makes writing sound all good-fairies-in-a-mossy-wood, but–Real Talk–perseverance is hard, y’all. Self discovery through writing eats all the leftovers from your emotional Tupperware. And we’ll talk about that, too. The good, the bad, and the dirty, dirty dishes.
As you might know, April is NATIONAL POETRY MONTH and you also might know that I WRITE POETRY. JOY RANCATORE interviewed me about my writing process, dealing with grief through poetry, and what I writing.
I’m so excited for y’all to get to read it!
You can catch the INTERVIEW HERE or click the picture!
Hello, Folks! In PART I of the Motivation series, we defined motivation and identified that fear is a natural response to change, and writing a book involves lots of change. Today, I’d like to talk to you about three types of motivation that I’ve discovered on this journey. Please note that I’ve named these myself after dissecting my own need-to-write v. production situation. Search yourself to see if what I’ve found out about me relates to you. If you want to chat through it, I’m always up for a discussion.
Alright! Let’s get to the good stuff!
First, Temporary Motivation
Not only did I make up the name, but I’ve also crafted a definition. See!
Temporary Motivation is motivation with an external stimulus.
(Definition of “motivation” can be found HERE.)
This was the first type of motivation that got my fingers moving again at the beginning of 2017. Here’s a piece of my story. After a long stint of postpartum depression and 11 years of a rough work situation, I felt like a shell of a person. I’d started a new job and the difference in work environments started helping me heal. It was about six months after I moved positions that I realized I was only moving moment-to-moment. I cared for my family, went to work, cooked, cleaned and went to bed. That was basically it. But with healing came perspective. I started to see past the next minute into the next day and the next year, and I started to want something particular in the vision.
I wanted my boys to have a career they loved. I didn’t want them to ever settle in any part of life, particularly professionally. So, my first temporary motivation was the future of my two toddler boys. How could I tell them to do something they love if I wasn’t doing what I loved, even if it was in 10 minutes increments? I started waking up, making plans, and stringing words.
Temporary motivation is a jumping off point. It’s not where you want to stay because you can’t control it.
One day, my boys will be grown and have their own dream careers and that will be it for me if I stopped here. No more motivation for Mea. They will have achieved.
For me to get started, I had to have something outside of my worn heart to move me into action, so my insides could heal even more. So, yeah, that’s a little about me.
Here’s some other examples of temporary motivation:
Next, Permanent Motivation-The Key to Longevity
Permanent Motivation: motivation without external stimulus.
This, my Friends, is what we’re constantly in search of. When all the glitter (or shrapnel) settles and the fireworks (or bomb glares) fade, this motivation is what will calmly and earnestly push us forward. Permanent motivation is internal and depends solely on you knowing yourself. I connect the idea to “self-motivation”. It’s a pure, true, and long-lasting foundation to the driving force of our creative heart’s desire.
You can start with temporary motivated blaze, but along the way you have to grow to know yourself because when the blaze dies out, all you’ll have is you.
It’s so easy to drown out the whisper of permanent motivation. Everything else—doubt, fear, criticism, jealousy—is so darn loud. Also, you can warp a permanent motivation to something anti-productive so easily, you have to keep yourself in check. How do I know? Well, sadly, I’ve been there. Over and over again. It’s embarrassing how many times, really. But I promised you truth in this BLOG, so here it is.
Examples of permanent motivation and how it can be warped:
And finally, DIY Motivation.
DIY (Do It Yourself) Motivation is motivation that you have to cultivate because you just. Ain’t. Feelin’ it.
So what if you don’t have either of the first two types of motivation. What if you are numb, but you remember the good ol’ days when you were young and spry and well-rested. When you had the gumption to finish Things and, by goodness, you DID finish things, but it’s been so long ago. Those days fade and shift, like looking at your reflection in a lake on a breezy day. What if you never were the kind of person to finish things at all?
What if you reading this and you’re saying, “Yeah, sure, Mea. That’s all well and good for you, but I heave doubt and fear on my shoulders like it’s my passed-on grandmother’s shawl. It’s so heavy and I cannot move.”
I have ideas for you (because I’ve been there. I still involuntarily go there because sometimes that’s just where my stinkin’ feet take me.)
Here’s some ways that can help you can create your own motivation until you start figuring some things out.
I did this with my poetry chapbook, and it distracted my fear long enough to allow something else in. I chose it because it was the shortest and scariest project I had on my desk. But mostly because it was the shortest. The shock and joy that comes when a project is finished, it’s like cake, Folks. Super addictive. If you’re like me, you’ll race right passed fear/doubt toward your next culinary fix.
My first novel was…um…not great. I knew it and I kept trucking on because I had given so much time to it that my fingers stubbornly grasped it. Surely I would reap some reward, right? The reward didn’t come in the form I’d envisioned. I had to stop trying to force a story that wasn’t ready through the tips of my fingers. Then in retrospect, I saw the many writing lessons and self-learning I’d not noticed when I was buried in the broken story. That was its purpose, but I didn’t know it until I put it down and walked away. As a result, the heaviness and self-doubt lifted and I could suddenly move toward new things.
I’m a firm believer in the power of creative outlet sharing. Meaning, creating something else can spark ideas in other aspects of your life. I feel like there could be some science about it somewhere, but I haven’t searched for/found it yet. So, take my unscientific advice if you want an adventure and do something different! I love making jewelry, songs, memes (yes, this is creative, gah), poetry, and t-shirts designs I don’t know how to put on t-shirts—especially, when my novel is at a stand-still.
And that’s it!
Three types of motivation as acknowledged by a writer, and the conclusion of our Motivation series. I’d love to hear if you’ve had similar experiences or have other ideas about motivation. Have you found ways to get your fingers tapping or to calm internal choppy waters? Let’s talk!
“Does it seem too small a thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the community of Israel to bring you near to himself, to perform the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the community to minister to them?”
Numbers 16:9 NET
IT’S NO SMALL THING AT ALL.
Let’s act like it.
NANOWRIMO is almost here, so here is a little reminder that we can laugh through this month without fear of the future and create lovely, wild, messy things!
Write On, Folks!
*Disclaimer: What motivates me, might not motivate you. Know Thyself.
Hello! It’s the middle of the last week of October, which means just 6 full days until NANOWRIMO takes over our lives. (If you don’t’ do NANOWRIMO, don’t worry; we still like you.)
So, I want to talk about motivation today and, hopefully, you’ll be prepared if you find yourself lacking…everything…come mid-November.
First of all, we need to know what motivation is. We give our story characters motivation, but do we ever wonder what our OWN motivation(s) is (are)?
(mostly from dictionary.com)
The bad thing about being real humans instead of book characters is that we don’t know what our motivations are before we begin writing our stories, a.k.a. living life. We’re our own authors, and we aren’t privy to that information.
So, to find our motivation behind a specific behavior, let’s identify a behavior.
Here’s one: You are staring at a computer screen with all of this preparation around you—character arcs, plot cards, timelines, setting maps—and yet, your fingers hover over the keys like you know nothing at all.
No, I don’t have cameras in your house; I had only to go as far as my short-term memory.
The behavior that we want to analyze is the paralysis of moving forward. What’s the reason for this thought spiral that leaves us impotent?
If I were a betting woman, I’d lay down 50 cheese balls that some, if not all, of the following questions are floating around in your head:
All of these questions are spawned by one tiny, terrible word:
It’s so little and looks so harmless—I mean, it only has 4 letters, but it should have 1 million with the way it takes over our lives.
Fear will stop you from doing ANYTHING that is not in your comfort zone. It’s supposed to keep us safe, and it will. We will not die if we stay as we are. (In most cases.)
BUT, what if you’re tired of your comfort zone? What if you want more than those four walls that box you in?
Think of it like this:
You don’t normally bungee off a mountain, but you have this notion that you might actually want to. This is a change from your normal, sidewalk-skipping ways, so your brain sends nervous electricity to your stomach, screwing with your bowels, and begins to yell “WARNING!!” to your consciousness, and all the sudden, you’re thinking:
Looks a lot like the list of questions running through your mind right now as you stare at your blinking cursor, right? Why? Because deciding to write a book that may show the world your insides is kinda like deciding to bungee off a mountain, which, funny enough, may also show the world your insides. A really tall mountain. With really sharp rocks, and there’s no fog so you can clearly see all aspects of your death-fall.
(Dial it back, Mea.)
But here’s what I want you to know:
Fear is the consequence of change. We humans don’t do change well, and our minds will do anything to keep us in status quo, like allowing fear to spread like an epidemic until it consumes our thoughts and affects our actions.
I have a question for you.
I think that we’re focusing on the wrong behavior. We wanna know why the blank screen, the blank mind, the veer toward procrastination, and all of the not-doing, but what if we focused on what spurred us to action when we loved what our hands touched? What thoughts were running through your head before the idea had pockmarks?
If I were a betting woman, I’d bet 54 gumdrops that it was something like this:
This is the behavior to analyze in order to discover your TRUE motivation, not the fear-focused one. This positive interaction with your creative side gives you strength, friend. When the hype dies, don’t let fear make you feel less than you are.
I’ve had a little success with this. At the beginning of the year, I decided that I would OVERCOME all this oppression, and it was just that. I felt like I was lying prostrate with this huge fear-boulder covering the length of my back. I wanted to get up, to take a deep breath, but I couldn’t turn over.
I looked at my boys, at their beautiful, hopeful faces, and knew that I didn’t want them to be in their 30s and feel like this. I also knew that I couldn’t guide them to be better than me if I didn’t teach myself how to be better than I was right then. (You might have to read that sentence twice. It’s confusing but important.) Thus, the search to discover the “general desire or willingness to do something I want to do” commenced.
I made a plan, and implemented it. Here’s what I learned:
This is the “general desire or willingness” the motivation definition talks about. Scribble them down. Post them somewhere, and when the fear blinds you from your dreams, look at your reasons. If they still ring true, if they calm you and revive the spark, sit down and write anyway.
But if your reasons don’t ring true anymore, you need more than motivation, friend. You need make sure this career path is right for you. And that’s okay. Why would you want to waste a moment more doing something that doesn’t feed your soul? If you leave writing alone for a while and decide you miss it, come back. Writing likes you. It’ll understand. And so will the writing community.