Writing is, by and large, a solitary activity. You can work with a partner or in larger groups but, when it comes down to it, a writer is always alone with their thoughts. Technically speaking, all of our human experience can be said to be this. Writing, however, is a conscious choice to distance oneself from the external, that which is outside their thoughts. Therefore, while we are motivated by the external we, as writers, must internalize those motivations and make them personal.
What motivates you to write? Do you have more than one? You should. Both external and internal, you should have more than one of each.
Many, if not all, writers might say the universe, that the story must be written. I, certainly, have felt that way. But is that enough? Just because the universe wants me to write my story, am I going to write it today? Often, I need more than just the universe.
Beyond the universe I have three primary motivations, all of which are tied closely together. You may say they are too close and are just one motivation. I would beg to disagree with you however, as they all perform a different task in motivating me. My primary motivators are a good Writers Community, a system of Accountability, and my Friends.
I have been a member at SFFWorld for over three years now. For those unfamiliar with it, it is an online forum for readers and writers of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror and all of their myriad subgenres. There are lots of online sites out there just like it, but it is my chosen one. After three years many of the members are familiar to me and I know who to go to with this question, or who would be good for this one.
Being a forum, SFFWorld provides me with a place to find out about books I have not heard of, introduces me to different ways of handling a scene I am writing, and gives me invaluable knowledge about the industry I hope to someday become a part of.
Some of the books I see discussed or that I pick up because of the discussion on the forum turn out to be rather poor, in my opinion. Some are fantastic. In both cases I am motivated to write my own story, either to surpass the failings I perceive in those other books or to attempt to reach the lofty heights others attain.
When confronting a problem in my story that I cannot overcome no matter how much I try, I cannot describe how wonderful it is to be able to present it to other people who have been in similar situations with their own writing or, simply, do not know anything but what I tell them and can therefore see the problem with fresh eyes not weighted down by the rest of the story I am telling. Their aid in these matters motivate me to write my story because I now have the answer to my problem and can move forward.
Lastly, my writing community is filled with writers at all the different points of the writer’s experience. Published, unpublished, just beginning. Hearing about others submitting, reading query letters and all the rest, that lets me dream and, again, makes me imagine what it will be like to see my name on a book on a store shelf. Maybe even with a stranger standing in front of it, a little smile on their face, reaching out to pick it up.
Which brings me to my next motivator:
One of the ongoing activities at SFFWorld is a monthly accountability group. I posted earlier about National Novel Writing Month and that some friends and I did a modified version of it. We kept going after the month was over and what has come of it is a group of writers who publicly set a goal for themselves for each new month, then update the other group members on their progress throughout the following weeks until the next month begins when they do it all over again.
This sort of thing works for some, but not so much for others. For me it works very well. I see the end of the month coming, look at how much I still have to write, and I feel that I will be letting down the group if I do not reach my goal.
The group is, of course, wholly about each individual. No two persons’ goals are the same. In participating I am not racing the others to some finish line. I am not even racing myself. What I am doing is challenging myself, setting a goal and daring myself to reach it in the allotted time.
For the year of 2013, I have set myself a constant monthly goal of 25,000 words. This is easily attainable for me. However, even with my friends supporting me I suffer from a lack of motivation consistently strong enough to encourage such writing over a long duration. So this year I am challenging myself to learn not to sprint, as I am
already practiced at that, but, rather, how to run a marathon.
My last, primary motivator is my friends. These include people at SFFWorld, both those who participate in the
monthly accountability groups and those who do not, as well as people I know offline from such places as work and my personal life.
Some of these people have read my stories. They are the ones who motivate me to keep writing. They leave me alone about it and we deal with what we have to deal with, hang out and have fun and, then, out of the blue, they surprise me and ask me how the writing is going. When I am especially excited about a story I will sometimes share ideas about it with my friends. Partly this is because I cannot contain it (I really love talking about my stories) and other times I do it because I think they will enjoy hearing the idea. And you know what? By and large, they do. Their pleasure motivates me to write that idea so that I can give it to them when it is done and ready for others to see. To give them that pleasure I first have to write the story.
Are these the things that motivate you? They are not the only things that motivate me, only the primary
motivators. And still I suffer from a lack of consistent, constant motivation. I recently received some help from a forum friend on a problem I am facing in my Red King story. I now know the answer and I have found out how best to execute that solution. Yet I am here, blogging about motivation rather than engaging this motivator and putting it to use. I doubt I am the only writer who suffers from such trouble.
What motivates your writing? Do you use them when you have them? Or, like they do for me, do they occasionally fall short of what you had hoped for?