Writing Motivation Questions

I think my writing output is an attestation to one thing: I do not understand discipline. A procrastinator by habit, I find deadlines to be motivators, but when you’re floating around ambiguous dates and no contract with a small publisher, there really is no deadline, so there’s no motivator. Right? No motivation? None at ALL? Well, let’s agree to say “not enough” then.

I could go through a litany of excuses, each more dire than the last, and every one of them true. It has been a very difficult time that only became more and more difficult as time passes. The good news is that things are getting better and better, and there is a HUGE opportunity on the horizon. That horizon is shooting at me with unnatural speed, and I have to break away often to attend to it as I have this week (oodles of pre-moving work, making last-second doctor appointments before I change jobs, looking for a new job, etc.). If things go well, I will have to pack up everything for the movers, and I’m not a good packer. I hate it, I have no help, and I was never any good at Tetris.

However, that’s life. Mine is at a very chaotic stage and is set to become more so. Like the Scarecrow said, “I think it will get darker before it gets lighter.” Through it all I have managed to analyze my abysmal writing habits and ask the hard questions:

“Do you really want to do this writing thing?” There was a great deal of soul searching to make sure I hadn’t just trained myself to want it, if you know what I mean. I did come away with an affirmative answer, and it was emphatic. I thought about all the little stories in my head and how, on the very rare occasion that I journal or talk about them, I’m filled with excitement and happiness at the thought of them.

“Well, why aren’t you doing it, then?” That answer was depressing, but I got several, and I know that they are right. There isn’t enough space here to go into it, but it comes down to what is filling the time that I’m not writing. Is that time well spent? Is it fulfilling? Are you running away from something and not running into the arms of a good book (yours or another person’s)? Or are you hanging out, watching TV, daydreaming about what you would be writing about anyway (actually not a bad plotting trick, but it is bad when that’s ALL you do), and giving yourself weird, ancillary tasks to do that don’t forward your life in any meaningful way? The answers were embarrassing. Part of the problem is that when everything around you ranges from annoying to misery, you spend a lot of your time doing little things to alleviate the bad or delay its inevitability.

“Your methods suck. What are you going to do to improve?” That’s a long one, but let’s say that it’s rotten from the ground up. To be a good writer, you need to read a lot and write a lot. If audio books count, then I’m finishing about 50 a year. I listen while I cook, every time I go into the kitchen to get a snack, when I walk, all that. I also listen at 1.5x speed, because otherwise I feel like I’m being read to by someone underwater eating massive amounts of cold, sticky honey (like Winnie the Pooh amounts), after just having suffered a massive stroke. However, there’s an intimacy with the written work that is lacking with audio books, and so I try to read more. That has been unsuccessful until very recently. I have come up with a plan, almost a schedule, and it’s easy. As for writing, I do that all the time, but it’s usually in the form of journals and such. I’m stepping up the journaling, making a day for it, and then creating space for other, more productive things. Most importantly, I’m giving myself deadlines. They are lax at the moment, but I’m hoping to cling to writing as a raft of sanity, rather than one more chore to be avoided and pushed aside.

If all goes well, soon time will be short as I’ll be packing, moving, closing accounts, etc. After that, I will have a staggering amount of time to get settled in, find a better job, get benefits set up, get out, and explore my new home. I hope to be able to keep up my writing at the same time. I’m not doing terribly, but not going as fast as I want. And since I’m trying to remove all sorts of blocks to my life and examining the processes I use for writing…why not do it all at once?

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~ by Darren Endymion on June 23, 2016.

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