Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG: Motivation Is Like A Banana . . .


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For last month's IWSG post, I wrote I was "cautiously optimistic" about my writing and a new project - a horror novella - I was working on. My goal was to have the first draft done by the end of September.

Not even close. 

I lost faith - not in the project (I still really like the idea) but in myself. I'm now convinced that berating my lazy butt with colorful expletives is my true talent. Motivation disappears around here faster than a banana in the tortoises' food dish. (Trust me - that's fast.)

So, I set myself a new goal - to prep it and plot it in October so it's ready for the great NaNo push in November. But...I don't know. What if I can't get my mojo back? Or, what if comes back, but I can't sustain it for the course of the project? How can I accomplish anything consistently if I seem to work best in creative spurts? 

Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated! As is chocolate.   

49 comments:

  1. How about some cheese? 1. Don't stress about it. 2. Write something just for fun to get the juices flowing. 3. WHAT THE HECK? You're like seriously one of the most talented writers I know. 4. Find yourself some writing music that will get you groovin. 5. Remember your awesome, even while showering yourself with expletives. =)

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    1. Aw, thanks, Crystal. I appreciate that.

      And cheese is always good. :)

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  2. I'm a person who wants to write every day but has no urge to, then one day, at maybe 11:30PM, I'll write until my eyes shut down on me. So I'd say don't stress over it, too, and give your goals a little flexibility.

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    1. I like the idea of giving goals a little flexibility, a little wiggle room. Not too much, but enough so we - the goals and I - can breathe. :)

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  3. It think doing Nanowrimo is a great idea. The sense of community and mutual support that Nano provides might be just the thing you need to get over this hump. I have done it several times and always had a good experience. The drafts I wrote during those Novembers were messy and full of plot holes, but I got my ideas down on paper and had something to work with over the following months.

    On a side note, I have been researching Galapagos tortoises lately and thought of you. I wonder how many bananas and lettuce leaves it would take to feed one of those big guys.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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    1. I skipped NaNo one year and really missed it. I think it will be a big help this time around - fingers crossed!

      There was an episode of The Amazing Race a few years ago where one of the challenges was to get a huge tortoise across a finish line - using bananas as motivation. Probably one of the most quickly completed challenges in the show's history. Oddly enough. :)

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  4. NaNo always motivates me. Maybe setting that goal will be enough to prompt you to action. Try it - what have you got to lose?

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    1. I've got nothing to lose at this point! Having that NaNo deadline should keep me on track...

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  5. Boy, do I feel your pain. I can't really motivate myself to do much right now, but like you, I'm planning out a story idea for NaNo. I've never won despite a few attempts, so I'm just hoping I can stick with it this year.

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    1. NaNo is both exciting and tough. I've won every year I've participated but some years? Whooo boy - it wasn't pretty! Keep planning and plotting - you're not alone! I'll be seeing you in NaNo Land come November. This year, you WILL win! :)

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  6. Virtual chocolate and hugs coming your way! As for working in spurts, that seems to be the way I work too. I have good months and bad months, good weeks and bad weeks, good days, and brain dead days. :) There are certain seasons that I can even "plan" on being the low ones - like January is usually a super low productivity month for me. September has been tough the last couple of years because I make the leap into fall with a change of focus for school and that takes all my limited brain cells. So, I plan on starting a new venture today. But then, I haven't started yet. Sigh.

    So, my "advice" for what it's worth is: know your strengths. If you're like me and you're a sporadic creative writer, then write like mad on the days that you have your mojo and let that mojo rest without guilt on the other days. Go for a weekly goal or a monthly goal instead of a daily one, if that helps.

    Or, if my advice stinks like moldy socks, just throw it out and do what works for you. :)

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    1. No moldy socks here! :) Thanks, Tyrean. I think knowing our strengths is huge, and it's something I don't think enough about. I'm too busy trying to make my writing process fit the norm. or at least fit somewhere, somehow.

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  7. My goodness, that's a lot of "what ifs!" I say, so what. Just do it. Write. Nobody but you sees it anyway. So go for it. If you don't feel real creative, just get some uncreative words down and come back to it the next day when you can fix it. Don't even think about what if. Don't wait for the Muse to strike. Just write and have fun with it. Go crazy and dream up an amazing story, then write it!!

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    1. I'm good at asking those "What ifs." Unfortunately, I tend to apply them to real life and all the scary and worrisome things that can happen. :)

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  8. Yowza, that's a tough one. We all get motivation drain, and the solutions are as varied as the authors. Some treat it like a business and put in hours no matter what. Others wait for their muse. Some write something different, or just for themselves. Whatever you choose, don't beat yourself up for too long. Cut yourself some slack and quiet the part of you that's doing the berating. And I definitely prescribe chocolate. It cures everything!
    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks, Ava! I know the berating doesn't really help anything. I wish I wasn't so good at it. :)

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  9. Making smaller goals for yourself in a project is a great way to get that mojo back. I hope it returns early this month. Good luck.

    As to how I find motivation when it's lost: 1) leave the project alone and take a hike 2) write in a different way e.g. not on the computer, but on a pad with a pencil 3) read. One or more of these always helps.

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    1. Thanks for the good luck wishes and the suggestions. :)

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  10. You're not alone. I also seem to work in creative spurts too. It's nerve wracking because I have stories sitting around that I want to get done, but it doesn't always happen. Sometimes it's me procrastinating and other times it's out of my hands. I actually wrote about this in my IWSG post today. We all have to figure out how we write best and then own that, make it ours and hopefully have that help us get more writing done.

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    1. Owning how we work, owning our process is a huge step and one I don't think I've fully undertaken. We'll just have to keep trying! :)

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  11. Maybe creative spurts is how you writer. I know there are those writers who can write 5000-8000 words a day, but I'm not like that and I can't do it. I write when I can and for as long as I can. Sometimes I may just right a paragraph everyday for a week and then I'll have a day where I can write for hours. It depends. So just write when you can for as long as you can. I think NaNo would be a great idea! And even if you lose your motivation halfway through it, don't beat yourself up, celebrate what you accomplished instead. :)

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    1. I really think NaNo will help me with this project and give me the kick I need. And thanks for the reminder to celebrate what we accomplish. :)

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  12. The thing that's worked best for me is establishing a writing schedule. When I'm working on a project I get up before work and write for two hours and then don't think about the novel for the rest of the day. This might work for you as well, even if you can only do 30 minutes. If you can commit to it, then the pages will eventually add up. Good luck!

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  13. Ahhh yes, its the best . . . umm, sorry you lost me at chocolate lol
    Okay, seriously, the bad thing is motivation is a tough one to force. The good thing is you're most definitely not alone. I think most of us work in creative spurts and once we've been bitten by creativity's bug it comes back to us whether we want it or not. On that note, you can and WILL do it in time for NaNo. Good luck and hugs! :)

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  14. Maybe discuss it with a bottle of wine and get that mojo ready to take a chance.

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  15. Yes, do NaNo!! And I agree with Chrys—I think it's okay to be a writer who has creative spurts. Just make sure you take advantage when one of those spurts hit! :)

    But maybe doing something like NaNo will train your brain to think that at this time every day you will sit and write. No matter if the creativity is spurting or not. Or maybe we can bribe your muse...I hear chocolate works well on creative muses! :)

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    1. I think taking advantage of those creative spurts is key. I have a routine but sometimes that makes me feel like I'm wearing a straitjacket.

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  16. Sometimes you have to slog through. As they say, give yourself permission to suck. That's what first drafts are for. You can't rewrite and polish an empty page, but if you can get some words down one (even awful ones), then you've got something to work with!

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    1. I struggle with giving myself and my first draft permission to suck. My perfectionist tendencies like to be in charge, but I'm getting better at beating them back.

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  17. Madeline, I know you can do it! NaNo will be a big impetus for you. A mentor of mine once said that if a thing was worth doing, it was worth doing badly. I remember that every time I sit down to write. You can always fix it later, the idea is just to do it. Lokking forward to that novella...

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    1. Thanks, Noelle. That line from your mentor is interesting - definitely something for me to chew on...after the chocolate, of course. :)

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  18. I've found over many years and MANY abandoned projects that if you stop working on it every day, you lose that connection. Even when it's going to crap, I've found it's best to keep going. Even if you have to delete half of it or rework it in revisions. And YES, stepping back and outlining now that you have the characters and basic plot down can really help, even if you're a pantser like me.

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    1. You definitely can lose that connection - and I think I already have, just a bit. Although I find that if the story and the characters still lurk in my mind, I'm still in that world, however tenuous.

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  19. Use your mojo while you have it. That's my recommendation! Come one. You can do it!

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  20. Its best to keep writing, else you lose the momentum. I would suggest plot the book out in detail and do it as a NaNo project. Plot out the main storyline and pantser your way through the scenes.

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  21. Tortoises eat bananas? I never knew.

    I think your new goal sounds like a great one---maybe your other one was just too ambitious and you psyched yourself out. NaNo will throw you back into a groove. Don't feel like every time you sit down you have to pound out the hightest quality of work. Sometimes we've got to trudge through hours of sludge before we hit writing nirvana.

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    1. Oh, yes! But it's more like a treat for our guys.

      Good thought - maybe I was too ambitious and psyched myself out. I do tend to do that...

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  22. Deadlines are useful to have because they keep us motivated. But I don't feel that missing a deadline is any reflection on what the story's quality would be once you finish writing it. Keep going! =)

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  23. That's my true talent as well. Not berating you of course, LOL, but berating myself.
    I agree with Nicki, I think NaNo will be what you need to get yourself back in gear. We all know how talented you are thanks to your amazing stories so you definitely need to keep going. :)

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    1. Ha! :)

      Thanks so much, Julie. I need to get back in gear - pronto!

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  24. I like that analogy; anything related to Mr. and Mrs. Larry works for me. Are you a recovering perfectionist? I know I am. I have to vomit out my first drafts, giving myself permission for them to be far from perfect. If I do that, I can write consistently.

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    1. The torts know they're a big hit. :)

      And that permission thing is still a problem for me. Sigh.

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