Motivation is a Four Letter Word

Motivation. Some people have it naturally, as a fusion of ambition and self-discipline.

Nashville's Parthenon in the available light

Some people engineer it into their lives with a delicate balance of responsibility and structure.

Me, I have phases. Maybe it’s chemical, I don’t know, but sometimes I have the oomph to meet a deadline (self-imposed or otherwise) and sometimes I haven’t got the price of a packet of tea.

I do my damnedest to stay on top of it, really I do, but as one can see from my blogging schedule, I’m just no good at it. Usually my motivator is something more negative than self-discipline of course– something like anger or need.

And then there are times like this, when I can hear the voice deep down saying more than “get some attention!” Sometimes I write because it’s for the best. With writing, whether fiction, poetry or blogging (but never articles), I am fulfilling both need and purpose. It’s all about the purpose.

The purpose is what makes work “the work,” transforming a tedious exercise into meaningful labor. Without purpose, I find it difficult to fall into the flow and overcome tribulations.

So, writer friends, what is it about “the work” that makes it purposeful for you? How are you able to motivate yourself to rise above the daily drag and distraction?

I ask you, my wordy fellows, because you’re more than off-the-shelf.  I have some insight (a little here, a lot over there) into your personalities and processes.  A guy like me needs some context!

So do tell, won’t you?

About Logan

In short, I like to think of myself as a poet, writer, actor, storyteller, artist, photographer, & new world man.
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2 Responses to Motivation is a Four Letter Word

  1. N says:

    Find value in everything – that’s what works for me.

    To look beyond one’s own limitations and toils and be mindful of what has been doesn’t present as great a challenge; it’s not hard to pick up a book or do a search query. Everything’s been done before, we’re just regurgitating. Great works always revisit or celebrate classics and traditional themes, which themselves are reiterations of older works which have been lost. The basic nature, condition, and stories of the human species hasn’t changed much in thousands (if not millions) of years. The ubiquitous search for meaning in life distracts us from life itself, and in many cases leads to ruin. This can also be said of the creative process. I find excitement and joy in the most trivial of labors, not because it necessarily presents me with a moment of epiphany, but because it makes things simple – simplicity is the key to any creative endeavor, even if it takes a multitude of complications to achieve it.

    It is, more often than not, a prescribed method to write as often as one can, with the supposition that this will somehow make the work better or cause a more fluid level of inspiration… I disagree. If one has nothing in their soul to discuss, there is no point to the practice of writing. Writing itself is nothing more than the capture and transmission of ideas, so one must start with something to communicate. Passion and zeal only come into play when an idea has significant importance to the writer.

    –NPH

  2. Carla René says:

    Hi Logan,

    Just now getting around to this.

    I have a few thoughts on your article, although I must admit your thesis was a little sketchy. Were you saying that writing period has suffered from lack of motivation? Or only certain aspects of it?

    I guess I can offer some advice on how to deal with that. I doubt you’ve been following my own career, although I bark about it regularly on FB. I do a LOT of self-promotion there, I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, GoodReads, you name it, I’m there. I am a professional stand-up comic, tv/stage/film actor, web and graphic designer and was a child prodigy in both fine art and music. I’ve also been a published author and have been since 2002 in both the horror and comedy genres. Now I’m getting into self-publishing and having a blast. So besides working on my first full-length novel, due out around Christmas, I am also contributing author at several sites, will be a featured author at two more, and might be featured at PageOneLit, a site the Reader’s Digest named their best writer’s resource three years in a row. Major coup if I get it.

    All that to say, I’ve been around and worked almost exclusively with artists my whole adult career, and one thing seems to permeate: the idea that motivation is the only reason a writer can write, a painter can paint, or a singer can sing. This bull-crap about the muse has ruined more writers I think, in their careers, because they’ve bought into it like some dime-store candybar, and it’s crap.

    No, it’s an excuse. Writers end up lying to themselves ALL…THE…TIME. “I don’t have time,” or, “I don’t feel the urge,” or, “My muse is in Bermuda.” All lies. If you WANTED to write, then you wouldn’t wait for some ephemeral invitation–you would simply do it.

    Is confidence your problem? Then you need to have a serious conversation with yourself and decide why you got into writing to begin with. I had to do that. I always wanted to write, just never had the confidence that I could do it. So I learned as much about the craft of language and storytelling as I could, because we can all learn more. That boosted my confidence. Did you get into writing because you had something of import to say to the world? Or was it because you merely wanted attention?

    Is motivation your true problem? Because there are several reasons a writer feels as if he loses motivation. Confidence, as I said, can be a major reason. Another can be no ideas, or what a person erroneously refers to as writers block. The reason I say erroneous, is because true writer’s block isn’t a lack of ideas (we always have ideas), it’s engaging your editor in the creative process too soon, which invariably causes you to piss on every single idea you have, BEFORE you create it. We end up judging those unborn ideas as crap before we’ve even given them a chance. I write about this regularly in my own blog, which you are welcome to follow. I share my honest and open experiences, both good and bad, in hopes that it will help another artist get to where he’s always wanted to be.

    If your motivation is failing during your fiction or poetry writing, then there is a simple fix for that. Do you ever use outlines? Then you should. My friend, mid-list author J. A. Konrath and I used to belong to the same online writing group for ten years, and I was his first web-designer. He made literary history back in 2002 when he inked a multi-book deal with Hyperion Press and was given an unprecedented six-figure advance. Now he’s paving the way as a self-published guru, selling on average no less than 10,000 downloads on Amazon Kindle per month alone. So when he gives advice, I listen. He talks implicitly about the use of outlines in his work. For the first novel, you don’t need one, but it helps. But if you ever sign a multi-book deal, then your agent will expect an outline from the second book on out.

    An outline, especially a very detailed one (he writes them about 30-40 pages long with intense details regarding plot, character, setting), will give you the chance to write down every single place you want your story to go. Think of it as a road map. In the outline, you give very detailed descriptions of what the character looks like, their mannerisms, why they are the way they are. Give it as much detail as you can.

    And then guess what happens? It fixes your motivation problem. Why? Because once you have the detailed outline to which to refer, then you are free to simply sit and fill in the bells and whistles, which allows you to concentrate on the writing of your story, and not serve as a distraction of wondering if what you’ve written fits the rest of your plot and is cohesive.

    I hope this has helped in some small way, and good-luck.

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