Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Best Way to Feel Motivated to Write is to Write

Beast of a contradiction, isn't it?  Those of us who get out here and try know it to be true, though.  In fact, that's why I'm here and doing this--I topped off a nine-day writing jag last Saturday at 11:34 p.m., after finishing the penultimate chapter of Nothing is Right.  It was less than 4 hours after the Kickstarter failed to fund, but I decided to keep on keeping on.  It wound up at a whopping 7800 words, and most of it had been rewritten several times.  I was feeling on top of the world.

In celebration, I decided to let myself fool around in Terraria Online, my personal favorite sandbox.  Why not?  I'd sworn off it for the duration of the writing process, promising myself a two week vacation before I start my next project.  I only had one more chapter to go, after all, and it was a holiday weekend.

Cut to Wednesday morning, and I'm trying to figure out how to farm Waterleaf in an underground ocean that I just spent the last four hours constructing.  What I'm not doing is writing.  In fact, I'm not even motivated to write.

That was when I knew it was time to get back to work.  You see, as long as I'm working out the next chapter in my head, pouring over plot issues that have me stumped, or getting angry at another blogger, video games are just a great way to clear my head before I go back to work.  It's when the goal of the game becomes bigger than the project that I need to get back to that I know I'm in trouble.  When that happens, the only cure is to throw on the over-ear headphones, crank up something vile and miraculous (Cracker's eponymous debut right now), and force myself to write.

The only way out is through.  You know it in your gut.  That's why you're still reading this article long after you figured out that it was a grumpy brainstorming screed and not an argument about the value of determination.  You don't need me to convince you.

Writing is hard work.  Even for those of us that are gifted enough to be able to turn our "inspiration" on and off like a switch.  There's a lot to balance, and being able to write on command doesn't mean being able to balance plot, character, theme, setting, tone, and audience concerns on command.  It doesn't mean being able to write well on command.  It's still hard work.  Convincing yourself to do it when you're not doing it is the hardest part of the job.

So who cares if you want to write?  Just write, damn it.  Wanting to will come with time.  Force those fingers onto the keyboard, and make it clear that a failure to produce some kind of result will result in punishment.  Your motivation will catch up with you once you've put enough crap down on the page that your brain engages.  It just takes time and doing.  It's an exercise, like jogging.  Like jogging, you know you don't really want to do it, but you want the rewards that come with doing it well.

Like jogging, it's always something that you're about to start after you finish this last box of Krispy Kremes.

Screw that.  Who cares if your barely literate stereo instructions don't gather an audience?  You don't need to show them off.  Just make yourself write them until you get that idea, and then you'll be motivated.

Whatever you do, though, don't stop once you start.  Days off are your enemy.

Got to go now.  It's time to start drafting chapter 8.