I’ve been neglecting this blog. But frankly, I’m surprised I’ve kept up with it all. Worse yet, I’ve also been neglecting my book. I’m one of those people who starts things and never finishes them. They get swept aside with the dust bunnies, under the rug, to deal with later. Only later never comes.
There are so many blogs and books out there with really solid advice and inspiration for “aspiring writers” like myself. And on the topic of motivation, most say the same thing. In order to write a book, you have to just sit your butt down in a chair and write the damn book. Or in order to be a writer, write. Or write every day, no exceptions. And this is my favourite: if you are finding it too difficult to sit down and write, then maybe you’re not a writer at all, because writers like to write.
Obviously, there’s some truth to those little nuggets of wisdom. Only, I do find it difficult to write, more often than not this last year. Is it because I don’t like it? No, that’s not it. Is it because I’m lazy? Possibly. Unmotivated? Definitely.
So, what is this thing we call motivation? If we have motive, we have reason. Well, I have a motive. Several. I want to complete what I started. I want to find a home on a fresh piece of paper, for all those stories in my head just waiting to be written. I want to do something that means something to me. I want to live a life less ordinary.
I know I have a motive, but why hasn’t that automatically translated into having motivation? Did it get lost somewhere in the void?
The thing is, I have a million stories in my mind at any given time. It’s a little frightening, actually. Every event, no matter how small, can develop into some elaborate and emotional story in my head. It used to worry me a bit. Is this normal? Am I crazy? Well, most would say, yes, a little. And let’s face it, they’re probably right.
But in my book and blog travels, I have learned that I am not alone in this weird habit. I learned from reading other writer’s stories, that this is kind of normal for someone who writes. This was a great relief for me. Score one for not being crazy. Or at least for being a special kinda crazy where I know I’m not alone.
Just because I lack motivation, doesn’t mean I am not a writer. But why are the ideas having a hard time transitioning from their cozy home inside my head, to that nice modern flat called 20 lb Bond? I’ve tried the nerdy notebook thing. Whenever the moment of inspiration strikes, I write it down. Or store it in the Blackberry. But it’s not enough.
I know for some people, ideas are what’s hardest for them to come up with. For me, it’s a matter of follow-through. Ideas are not the problem. I have lot’s of ideas. Maybe too many.
The idea for my first novel came to me in a way that’s difficult to describe. The process was slow. It started with the realization that I could be a writer if I wanted to be, if I was willing to try it. So I wrote some stuff down and it didn’t really work out at first. My heart wasn’t in it. But nonetheless, the seed of inspiration had been planted. Or, more likely, it was planted in Gr. 4 by Ms. Meronek and I had been starving the poor thing all those years. So I finally gave the seed a little nourishment, and a funny thing happened. Not at first. Just more ideas. More time passed and I had long ago given up on my first little project.
Then one day I had a dream. I woke up, and could only remember one scene from my dream: a girl in a bathtub, staring at the ceiling from underneath the water. From this grew my story. I crawled out of bed, and stumbled straight to the computer, started writing and didn’t stop for a few months.
How I knew what this dream meant is beyond me. But the story was there in my head (in some form) when I woke up. Seed planted. Nourishment given. Sunlight of inspiration hits. Work begins.
But I’m doing it again. I’m starving the seedling of sunlight, inspiration. I’ve begun to doubt myself more than ever, to doubt that I will finish what I started. And maybe too, I’m a little bit afraid of it. Because I know once I’ve finished the second or third draft, it will be time to let people in on my little monstrous creation. To ask for feedback. And then after the revisions, when it’s fully grown…I don’t even want to think about what comes next. Query letters and literary agents and rejection letters….
I’ve been in the dark too long and there’s been no sunlight to stave off the frost. What do you do to quell the fears and find that elusive motivation?