Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I can't get

I met a friend for lunch yesterday in the very suburban-mall-esque Time Warner Center. She told me she she'd been working on a novel (hooray! another soul joins the ranks of the insane!) and asked me how I keep myself motivated to finish such a ginormous project.

I wish I had a secret potion, or a little robot overlord to thwack my knuckles when I start to slack off, but the truth is, it's always been a struggle.

A few years ago, when the hubs and I were faced with the super-fun task of finding a New York City kindergarten for our then-four-year-old, we toured a fabulous school with amazing resources and facilities. Our guide kept repeating the mantra "We ADORE SELF-MOTIVATED KIDS!"

Um, okay, great. Was my preschooler self-motivated? She was certainly motivated to get me out of bed before dawn or harass me for a dollar when we passed the guy selling flavored ices from a cart. But overall? Who the hell knew. If she was anything like her mother, I guessed not.

Deadlines work well for me, but they are tough to keep when they are only self-imposed. The tried and true Butt In Chair method is the way to go, provided you don't cheat (guilty.)

I wasn't quite sure what advice to give.

Do you have any methods to share? She lurks (hi!), so she'll benefit from your sage advice.


Commentbug, Blogger Layouts said...
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JLC said...

^ SPAM!!!

Motivation.... hmmm... Well, right now I am trying to get my rough draft finished before the kiddo is out of school. Its a self-imposed goal, but it is also one that has merit. It isn't easy to write during summer break.

And then, of course, I am continually telling myself..."This book isn't going to write itself!" :)

Having other writing buddies for support helps too. I believe your friend already has that. ;)

Sage Ravenwood said...

It comes in zones. Seriously, there will be moments of hellbent fury - typing madly away and there will be moments of finger tapping on the desk waiting for the muse to kick in. The trick is to not give up. Don't stop writing. If your at a lull in the current book, write a letter, a blog post, a short story. Write something, anything - every day.

I'm not one to stick to time constraints either. Some days you'll type all day, others you'll be lucky if you eked out a few minutes. If you write one meaningful sentence it counts.

Above all, expect to become the eccentric most of us writers are, with characters roaming and lodging in your head. (Hugs)Indigo

Jaleh D said...

Self-imposed goals are hard to stick with, but my hubby is helping with the motivation to stick to them. Yes, he's the one holding the big stick of "get back to work!" At least he gets enthusiastic when I give him progress reports. I think secretly he wants me to hurry up with this current project so I'll have time to work on the two stories we're doing jointly.

WendyCinNYC said...

JLC--Having writing buddies is so, so key for me.

Indigo--It's awesome to be in the writing zone, isn't it?

Jaleh--That's great! My husband is too forgiving. He would aid the Bad Wendy on my shoulder.

Jaleh D said...

Haha. It's so easy to slide into temptation. Especially while my hubby is sleeping. (He works thirds.) I have to flick Bad Jaleh off my shoulder all on my own.

And I have an award for you on my blog. :)

vert word: cones
Now I'm thinking ice-cream. Scuse me. The freezer is calling.

Purple Cow said...

Reading all of this stuff motivates me to start writing a novel though I had never ever considered it before. Seems like a fun and passionate ride. How does one figure if they have it in them?

What do you just do? Get a story plan or just start writing and see where it takes you (kind of like blogging but with a plot)?

WendyCinNYC said...

Thank you, Jaleh! That's so nice.

Purple Cow--You should! I started by writing short stories. I've done that pretty much all my life. But others jump right in to novel form and it works for them, too. Personally, I write free-form for the first however-many pages, then I stop and decide if it's worth continuing, and if so, where the story will end up. So I'm a kind-of outliner.

west side lurker said...

lunch friend who lurks appreciates the support and ideas!!

WendyCinNYC said...

Ah-HA! I see you!

Kristina said...

Hi Wendy and West Side Lurker...

Don't be afraid to write garbage.

I suspect many people start writing, and it starts to feel terrible, or not come out right, or they get stuck on what should happen, so...they...stop.

Don't stop. Write some crap. Maybe by writing through the crap you'll find gold. Or maybe it's not actually such crap when you look at it the next day. Or maybe the groove will come back as you're typing. No one else is going to see it, after all.

But you won't lose momentum, which is a killer...

WendyCinNYC said...

Goode advice, Kristina!

Mother Hen said...

Motivation- the desire to DO something.
Desire- wishing or wanting for something to happen.
I sometimes have more desire then motivation. Being a multi tasker or easily distracted person, I consider the wishing and wanting my multi tasks for the day!

Seriously though, just write something every day on something about something.
Yesterday without even realising it I did 1300 on my YA novel and filled in 2 months of my "Children's Life" journal. An ok day :)

Anonymous said...

On work days I have half hour goals. I figure that it's a reasonable goal.

I track my time in my agenda. If I miss a day--because stuff happens--then I have to write a full hour the next day. I somehow make up all my missed half hours.

I'm ruled by lists and agendas, so this works for me.

Judy said...


If I were writing full time, I'd use a schedule, otherwise I'd spend on day doing laundry and looking around etsy... LOL

yui said...

Hi! I'm behind you.
Good luck!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...'s more about desire isn't it? How much do you desire to write? How much you do you desire to sell that writing? How much do you want an agent? You've got to really want it to get past the fun part of writing. It's work, but if you are passionate about your story you will be motivated to finish it and eventually sell it...

WendyCinNYC said...

Mother Hen--Thanks for the advice.

Medeia--I'm another person ruled by agendas.

Judy--So true. Although I do anything to avoid laundry.

yui--Thanks for visiting!

Sharon--True. Without the passion, why bother?

Allie said...

I have a writing group. Having pages due for group makes a big difference. It's the biggest struggle, I think. I do try very hard to recognize when it just isn't going to happen and step away from the desk. It's better to take an honest break from the work when you need one, then to push yourself and then feel awful when you don't accomplish much.