Writing in Public, Too: Day 15 - Motivation for Writers
Woke up this morning and spent a quiet morning, hanging with the kids and my wife. Watched a show with my wife, worked with D on her new computer, and came to the conclusion we were definitely going to need to get her a different machine. For a variety of reasons, it just wasn't working for her. She's a very tactile kid - and the biggest problem the machine had was that the trackpad was one of the ones with the little bumps all over it, instead of being smooth like she was used to. So after lunch (leftover pizza from the night before), D and I went back to Best Buy to return the old computer and buy a new one. This is part of Kevin's Theory of Techy Goodness, by the way: I always buy my tech local. Seems counter-intuitive, maybe. But if I buy online, I need to wait two or more days for it to arrive. Then, if there is anything wrong with it, I might have to wait weeks to send it back and get it replaced - maybe longer. Tech companies are not exactly building good reps for service these days. But Best Buy and Staples both have really good service departments, at least around here. So I got to these stores. I get to see the machines in person. I get to try them out, and if they're not working for some reason, I can return them and get cash back or a different machine that same day.
When I bought my Chromebook (the 11.6" Samsung one) that I use as my main "writing while traveling" machine, I was iffy on whether it was worth it or not. I mean, there's not much you can do on a Chromebook unless you have a net connection, and with no 3G, that means the one I bought is very reliant on a WiFi connection. But Best Buy gave me a couple of weeks to try the thing out, and said I could return it if I didn't like it. As it happened, I DID like it - but I probably never would have purchased it if they hadn't offered the return policy.
So anyway, I went out with D and we spent most of the afternoon, between driving to the store, hours looking at every laptop they had, and driving through traffic on the way home. But she's a happy camper now: a nice HP Envy with an A10 processor and a hefty bunch of RAM. It's not an uber-laptop. But it's probably more laptop than a seven year old really needs. Still, this is the same kid who was converting short stories to ebook format at age four, reading at age five, and is now reading better than most kids twice her age. She's learning programming (homeschooling is cool that way) and hosting Minecraft servers. So a little extra machine isn't a bad thing. If she's not using the machine to its full potential yet, I feel confident she WILL be within a year or so.
Got home and touched base with Susan for a while. It was about then I started feeling cruddy... Our youngest had been sick yesterday and today, some sort of respiratory bug. And I was coming down with it. I got dinner into everyone anyway, and was feeling even worse by the time I was done with the task. It was getting late by then, and I went on my ipad to get caught up on my email, which had gotten ahead of me - a way to relax a bit while laying down. I even closed my eyes and rested a bit. After I got the last of the kids tucked in, Susan and I watched a show, and then I went back to work on Ashes. I got 2000 more words in, and decided to call it quits. The tylenol is holding, and work doesn't want me coming in sick (bad for the patients). But I'm tired, and it's time to get some rest so I can get better fast. I don't get sick often, and it generally doesn't last long, but no sense making things worse.
Motivation for Writers
But I wanted to talk a little bit about motivation. I had a chat with my wife about motivation this morning. And an old friend from high school sent me a note on Facebook today, thanking me for these blog posts - they motivated her to write a short story last week, which is awesome. She and I used to chat about writing over two decades ago, and I still have one piece she wrote for me in a box with all my old (and oh-so-bad) high school meanderings.
I'm glad to hear the blog posts are helping other people. I know they're helping me, though.
Here's the Mystery behind motivation. I'm going to borrow from a lovely bit of poetry which I think fits well:
"...know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not,
unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek,
you find not within yourself, you will never find it without."
Motivation comes from wanting something badly enough to be willing to work and sacrifice to obtain it. It really is about that simple. We all say we want things. We want a better job, or a better education, or a better car. We want to eat healthier, or be more fit. We want to write a novel, or a bunch of short stories. We want to be better parents. Whatever the things are that we say we want, we pretty much all do it. We desire things in our lives, and we voice that desire.
But that's not enough to accomplish the goal. Because when we voice a desire, we end up facing opposition. It's a universal constant: when we try to achieve something, we will always face some sort of challenge in the doing. That's part of why quest stories ring so true to all of us - because we've ALL experienced the "Hero's Journey" type of quest. Most likely, we didn't slay dragons or sail our ship past monsters, but the concepts the Hero's Journey talk about are pretty universal. When someone steps out and tried to accomplish anything, opposition appears. And generally, the opposition which rises is in direct proportion to the immensity of the task undertaken.
The bigger the task we try to accomplish, the harder we're going to have to fight to win the prize.
And most of us, most of the time? We hit that wall, and we crash. And when we crash, we give up. We give up because it's a lot easier to give up than it is to try harder. Seth Godin talks about a concept he calls "The Dip", which he describes as:
"Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point-really hard, and not much fun at all."
He goes on to talk about how people OUGHT to quit sometimes, and why that is smart. And I agree; sometimes people beat their head against the wall on something which really isn't a good goal for them in the long run anyway.
But I think far more often than that, people give up on perfectly good ideas or goals once they hit that Dip - the place where it suddenly gets really hard. And I think that's really sad.
As for me? I know darned well I could have accomplished more than I have just in this year. I watched myself use every excuse in the book to explain why I was doing unproductive things instead of working at being productive at my writing. I had the time. I had the tools. I had great story ideas. We're not talking about writer's block here; we're talking about simply not doing the work.
Motivation is about doing the work. Not once in a while. Not when you feel like it. Motivation is about putting in the time even when you don't feel like it, because you know the end result (whatever that might be for this particular goal) is worth the effort. Motivation requires passion - the deep and fundamental love for what it is you are working at or striving toward. Motivation requires faith in yourself - belief that you can stay the course, and that the work you are doing will be worthwhile in the long run.
I believe one of the great challenges we all face in life - not once, but as a daily, ongoing thing - is to FIND our passions, BELIEVE in them, use those things to BUILD motivation, and then use the motivation to inspire and power the WORK required to accomplish those things we are passionate about.
It's a chain. Break a link, and you have nothing.
Build the whole chain, and you have everything worthwhile.
Totals for Day 15
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 2000 words Month to date fiction: 20900 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 1511 words Month to date blog posts: 9531 words