M&M: Part 2 – Motivation

It is said that ‘everyone has a book in them’. I don’t think this is quite true. If I was to take that statement further then perhaps the claim that ‘everyone has a quarter of a book in them’ would be more accurate. Sure everyone has a story and an idea but how do they get that idea off the ground? It’s motivation pure and simple. I couldn’t say what the ratio of people that have started a project to people that have finished but there are certainly more unfinished novels out there in the world than there are finished ones. Let me give you a personal example.

In 2001 I came up with an idea. Really fell in love with it and started planning it out. Years later in 2005 I actually started to write this idea down and with some consistency and a thing called motivation. I had quarter of a novel in a few months. It was slow going but I was consistently writing in between the engineering and falling in love ( with a woman, not a story). Then I lost motivation. There were factors and none more than this temptress who had caught my gaze but there were other things too that caused this demotivating. It would be another three years when my first daughter was ten months of age (and I had been out of the nine to five drudgery for at least six months) before I picked up the draft again. Again it was slow but consistent and a year later in October 2009 ( the birth of my second daughter) I had this rough draft done. This book clocked in at 140,000 words (equivalent to a 600 page novel) and I had my wife read it on the laptop while she sat in the ward of the maternity hospital.

So how had I filled all the blank pages with words? How had quarter of a novel become a novel. Or at least a novel in spirit. Well again it was the times I simply found motivation that helped me to get through what was a very ambitious first project. It’s true that with each page written, you simply feel that much closer to the end. That is why if one writes every day they can genuinely see the blank space being filled.

Caffeine is a motivating reward.

Caffeine is a motivating reward.

The same things that spoil momentum serve to demotivate you. For example: correction of spelling and grammar, perfecting phrasing before moving on, fretting over the fat (things that need to be cut from the draft), researching all the way through the writing process and re-reading everything along the way. Now you might say ‘All these things are required’ and you would be right. At some stage they will be but if you are doing all these things consistently then you have stopped yourself from doing the very thing you set out to do in the first place – and that is to write.

Here are some things that might help to ramp up your motivation:

Do Not Doubt Your Story – This idea came into your mind for a reason. Put it onto paper (or pixels) first and then feel free to relate to it or curse its holy name.

Rewards – Dangle a carrot beyond the keyboard. Perhaps you are just going to go for a walk or read a newspaper or vegetate in front of the telly. When you have done a page or reached that target then do one of those downtime activities you love to do. I tend to use caffeine as my reward and sometimes the coffee is finished before the page however it is good for the soul and fuel for an active mind.

Timetable – Make sure you know when you will be starting that next page. No timetable equals procrastination.

State of Being not State of Mind – You are a writer ( or can be) if you believe it so. It is not that you should wait until you are in the right frame of mind to write. That might only be quarter of the times that you sit down. Think of times of day that suit you and think of that special space to write in, then, just be that writer.

The End is the Beginning – This sounds demotivating but it’s not. Do everything you possibly can to get to the end of that first draft. It is just the beginning for all of the finessing I have just mentioned but the bones of your story will be there. Now that will be a moment to cherish and savour. Get there.

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