Saturday, February 24, 2007

Keeping Motivated

You need a lot of self-discipline to be a writer. It takes inner fortitude to sit there at the keyboard on days when it's not going so well. It also takes inner fortitude to keep your perspective on days when it's going great. Maintaining the vision of your book, in the face of many obstacles and distractions, is hard work.

Maybe it's a little cliche' but writing a novel is a bit of a marathon. Not that I've ever run one, but I think you know what I mean. You know how you'll run the race. You study the course. You train. But it's only your guts and determination that see you through the difficult middle (when you're feeling tired or even like giving up!) and get you to the final tape.

A career in writing (or any creative passion) is pretty much the same. There are going to be those hills that are hard to run up. There are going to be dry patches when you're praying for someone to douse you with a cup of water. There are going to be those miles when the finish line (for whatever you're dealing with) seems unreachable. So how do you (or I) keep motivated?

1) Support each other. Find others who are doing what you do and cheer each other on. Hello, Buzz Girls!!

2) Remember the good times. Keep a file of "good" rejection letter. Read your contract! (You'll be thinking to yourself -- OMG, I can't believe they actually pay me money to do what I love!) Look at pitctures from writers' conferences when you were with your writing buds. Glance at contest final certificates, good judging comments, anything that helps you remember you're on your way.

3) Keep the end in mind. How do you want to finish this section of the race? Strong or staggering? Keep a diary of the pages you write, noting how much closer you're getting to the end of the book. Remember who you're writing for and how much the story could mean to them. The world needs this to be told and you're the only one to tell it!

4) Let new ideas come. Write down short paragraphs with your new ideas (for me, they always come about page 50 of a new book) and keep them in a drawer for another time. Don't fight them. Don't let them seduce you away from your current project. Unless you want them to. lol.

5) Reward yourself. Celebrate small and large accomplishments. Always keep sparkling cider or champagne chilling in the fridge. (And a Pepperidge Farm chocolate layer cake in the freezer if you have good will power.) Or, buy movie passes for yourself and reward yourself with a fun flick when you acheive a goal. And there're always new shoes.... Ahhhh, shoes....

6) Reread your favorite books about the craft or career. I like Stephen King's On Writing and Deb Dixon's Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Also screenwriting books by Syd Field -- which, incidentally, I took on my trip to Hawaii as beach reads when I was seventeen. I wanted to be a storyteller so badly, guys!

So those are some of my ideas on how I keep myself writing even on the bad days. And I have to say... any bad day spent writing is better than a day doing anything else.

Get writing, peeps!


Heather Davis is the author of
Never Cry Werewolf
Coming in 2008 from HarperCollins


stephhale said...

What an inspiring post! You are so right to compare it to a marathon, although I wouldn't have a clue about physical fitness in any way. I just used the shoe motivator yesterday. They are adorable black Steve Madden kitten heels with rounded toes and a little black bow on the side....sigh...I couldn't resist...and I did finish my sequel a few weeks they were totally justified....:)

TJBrown said...

I ran the marathon. In fact I have ran a couple and even have a great fangirl by my side (my agent) but I have yet to get my prize! LOL

I actually haven't read the Dixon book yet... I know I should, but just haven't gotten around to it.

Marley Gibson said...

GREAT post, Heather! I'll add one more book to your list: Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. Simply fabulous and so inspiring!

Marley = )

TinaFerraro said...

Thanks for this inspiring post, Heather! The hardest part of writing for me is when I know something can be good--but no matter what I do, it isn't working. One other thing I do is walk away for a time, until I absolutely NEED to write, and then I'm willing to tackle anything--even the hard stuff--just to write again. Which is not to say I always solve my scene problems, but at least I stay motivated to try!