1. Rybe
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    Rybe Member

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    Finding motivation

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rybe, Mar 20, 2012.

    So, I've been a little down on my, well, life lately, so I'll apologize for any angst in advance.

    I always seem to hear about people who write and enjoy writing who have these wonderful support systems in their lives. Friends and family who will help and support the writer in what can often be a long, tedious process, especially when they're like me and enjoy writing novels. I, however, lack this support. None of my friends or family are remotely interested. Not even my spouse. Whenever the topic comes up of someone reading a chapter or two I can see the guilt, they want to support me, but are just completely and utterly uninterested. I know it's nothing personal but it is hard none the less.

    After completing an entire novel that essentially got shelved, I find myself struggling with my current project. After letting nearly 300 pages just sit and gather dust, with literally one person reading the thing besides myself, moving on is like pulling teeth. Yet, writing is my love. It's just, well, hard. And somewhat depressing. Okay, really depressing. Especially compounded with other things in my life. Like how ironically getting my degree in English seems to have destroyed my confidence. Yay angst! Anyway...

    How do the rest of you motivate yourselves when you have such a daunting, thankless task ahead of you? Yes, I love writing, yes, I enjoy creating, but sharing it is a large part of my motivation. Not to mention having the assurance that I'm not just pouring line after line of crap into a word processor. Clearly, for me at least, coming to a writing forum is step one, but I'm wondering what everyone else does, or if anyone can sympathize.
     
  2. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    What I gathered from your post is that your friends and family don't want to read your work, but they also don't entirely discourage you from writing. Well, what's the problem? I never let my family read my works because they can be the most unreliable critics. If they give you a good review, that may be just because they don't want to hurt your feelings, that is of course of no use to improve your writing. And if they give a bad review, your relationship might get strained. So, until and unless your friends and family become hindrances to your writing work, just be thankful to them. There are many other ways to share your work, you may start right here on this website.
     
  3. Rybe
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    Rybe Member

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    It's my understanding, however, that throwing up something you hope to publish up on the internet is a bad idea. Correct? And this is not just me bitching about how my friends/family wont read my stuff! I know they'd be useless reviewers for all but the very basics, even if knowing someone might have enjoyed reading it would give me the warm fuzzies. I'm just wondering where people get the strength, support, the will, etc to go on, and all that other dramatic stuff. I've just been getting this weird bashing my face against the wall feeling lately whenever I fire up Word.
     
  4. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can understand your feelings, Rybe. My spouse is not interested in my writing either. It's not about constructive criticism, it's about motivation and support.

    Fortunately, I have others in my life I can share my writing with, both off-line friends and writers I've met on this forum. I've managed to collect a small circle of people I can send out my stories to.

    It's true that you're unlikely to publish something that's been publicly available on the Internet. It's a little easier if you only posted it on a password-protected forum like this one. But you could also write short stories for the Internet and treat them as learning experiences. You can put up the stories which have been "contaminated" on your web site and use them as advertising / free samples.
     
  5. doghouse
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    doghouse Member

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    I'd say killbill nailed it, in respect of family, friends, and spouse. Just be thankful they're honest.

    There are some good critique/feedback websites out there that will advance your writing. They should give you constructive criticism and encouragement. As long as you know your craft can always improve, those sites are the best.

    Islander covered the publishing issue. Post excerpts, chapters, etc, on password protected sites. As long as the work is not viewable publically, in most cases you're fine. Posting work on public sites is considered published.

    Sometimes writing is a slog. It's not always a joy. Certainly in regards to novel writing. It takes a lot of work, and there is a huge difference between writing for yourself, and writing to be read -- or published.

    Chin up old boy. You're not alone.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, yes, but one possibility could be to do some writing that you don't want to publish. In my case, that's blogging. You won't make money from a blog, but it feels good to get your writing out there and maybe get some interaction about it. While it won't directly add one thing to the writing you want to publish, it might give you some energy and inspiration and also teach you what works with readers and what doesn't.

    ChickenFreak
     
  7. Matt Harvey
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    Matt Harvey New Member

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    Hmmm, I've only just started writing for fun and I don't know how I would handle your situation. I obviously haven't written an entire novel. I'm in the process now of writing my first story, outside of school. For me, the reason I'm writing it, is just because I want to and I'm confident in that I have a compelling story in my head. My only concern is if I'm telling it in the right way, if I'm stringing together the right words, am I creating a nice steady flow in the story where it can be read at a comfortable pace, and be immediately comprehended while still painting a vivid picture in the minds of readers.

    To me, what would be a good source of motivation is what others have already said. Write on websites, or blogs, and write things specifically for those. Take the criticism from the smaller, less ambitious works and apply it to your novels. That's how I would go about getting advice on my writing, without posting on the internet something I put in a lot of work and effort into.

    Or, I know in my area there are a few writers groups on meet-up.com that if I wanted to I could join and get writing advice/ inspiration from. So maybe there is something similar for you.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also an early draft or small excerpts are not going to cause any problems. Other sites offer the option of a member, password protected area and the ability to remove work. Authors from those sites have not had trouble getting their work published.

    The other alternative is like ChickenFreak suggested and write other work specifically to put it up online.

    Motivation for me comes from the characters once I get into their head or they get into mine they nag me to write the stories.
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am more or less in your situation. The only one who has read both of my novels is my mom, and she doesn't offer any constructive criticism. I don't see that as a problem, like you I love writing so much that it is its own reward, I don't see it as thankless at all. Sure I'd love to know some people I could have reading my mss and get constructive criticism, but I prefer not letting friends and the rest of the family read what I've written until I have had some kind of approval from someone who knows if it's good enough to submit or not. I think it's easier to submit my work to people (publishers) I don't know and never have met rather than letting my friends read it. Ok, they want to read it and I am the one not letting them, I guess that is where we are different.
     
  10. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    I still regret the day I told my family I was writing... Well, if I didn't tell them, most likely I wouldn't have the notebook I am typing this right now, but they want to read! And I don't want to show them. It's really great that you have the guts to show your friends and your spouse, but, to be fair, if you want your work to be published, their opinions most likely won't count. Most often they won't offer the criticism that you need to improve your work.
    Anyway... It must suck that you don't have their support, but if you love writing, why do you need any further motivation...? Isn't that what you love to do? Perhaps -- ahem, for sure -- you feel down that your first novel didn't work but if you are writing just to get published, you should do something else, no?
    And the lost of confidence. I feel your pain. Everything I write sounds utterly silly to me, to the point I really don't show my work to anyone! But if you are not satisfied, then you should work even harder to make it better. At least, that's what I do.
     
  11. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    ^ My sympathies. People keep asking me, "When can I read that novel?" and I keep saying, "Once I've worked over it"... of course that may never happen. I dread the day I read it again.

    Motivation. I don't really know. I don't even know if I can say writing is the love of my life like so many people around here. In fact, it's not. I write because it's fun to write. On the day it stops being fun, I would stop writing. I don't consider myself tied to writing by love or career.

    And as far as criticism goes, you get all types: I wouldn't let my family read my stuff if they asked. They do ask. In my experience, when my family reads my stuff, they say, "Hm... hm... it could use a little work... maybe you just need to look at it in general." Which is a bad euphemism for "Go rewrite it. It's terrible." And they're right. But no one likes to hear that.
     
  12. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    I'm perfectly happy with the half of my family smiling at me indulgently. It's the other half that's a bit on the damaging side. Heck, I'd prefer the other half to not care rather than attacking the fact.

    Motivation comes from with in. That's the sad bit about it, you'd think that having family and spouse being extremely interested in it would change the fact, but it's doubtful.

    I'm going to go with Cassiopeia, it sounds more like you're a little bit disappointed in the first completed novel. I don't know when you finished it, but it could really just be a burn out. Something that will pass in some time.
     
  13. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    I'm in a similiar spot in the sense that I don't have any real outside support. My girlfriend is not really a reader, neither are most of my friends. My parents read, but they're not into the genre I write in. I don't need an overwhelming amount of support, however, because I'm extremely motivated to write the particular story I'm currently writing, and I think that comes from addressing themes beneath the story surface; themes that are meaningful and important to you. Do you ever ask yourself questions about life, death, love, spirtuality, etc? Better yet, do you have views that you might not share with others directly because they're just too different? This is the venue for them. Weave them into your characters' viewpoints, and watch the meaningfulness of the project change dramatically. At that point -- when you have a thematic exposition in your story that you've been dying to shout out to the world -- motivation is no longer an issue.
     
  14. LBGale
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    LBGale New Member

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    I'm very motivated...in theory. My biggest problem is just the day to day issues that always arise. I try to write about an hour a day, but sometimes I'm just too tired. If I didn't have a day job and a family, I feel like it'd be easier, but those things (rightly) eat up a lot of time. So finding the motivation to write and write and write when I just want to sleep can be difficult. I think the key is just toying around with my schedule so I can figure out the times that I write best no matter how I feel. For me, that's usually just after waking up.
     
  15. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    Your family and friends may not be interested in it, but you need to think why. Did they find something in the work boring? Or are they generally not interested in reading? True criticism lies from people on the internet or people you don't know... They will tell you straight what they think about the story, if they think its boring or not. Don't find motivation from people who sugarcoat stuff because it'll be a waste of time in the longrun.
     
  16. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Unless you have a cruel family or one who wants you to succeed. The only person in my family who is actually interested in hearing anything about my writing is my sister, everyone else is indulgent smiles (or sees it as a waste.) I'm not kind when I'm critiquing her writing or her art and if I ever gave her my actual work to read, she'd be just as harsh. She tears my ideas to shreds easy as pie which makes them stronger.

    I guarantee you that I'm more likely to sugarcoat things to a stranger on the internet than my own family because I don't know them and I don't know how much they can take before it's too harsh.

    The point that needs to be made is not that strangers are greater than family; it's knowing the person enough to know that they aren't going to be nice just so you don't break. True criticism lies with those who want you to succeed, period.
     
  17. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    Well my rl friend read through my story and told me he really liked it, rating it 8.5/10. He tells me throughout the story what he doesn't like... But I get wary because I know he prob won't wanna upset me. I went on the internet and was suprised by similar responses, praising my story and characters.. I suppose the truth is, you should have an idea yourself how good your story is. If you're bored, your reader is bored...

    I did the opposite.. Some dude posted his story and asked for the honest truth. I struggled because he tried too hard and used too many confusing and long words, so I just told him how it was.

    Also I agree with your last sentence.
     
  18. Rybe
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    Rybe Member

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    Thanks for all the responses, I suppose I have a fair amount to think about, though I am going to have to be a pest and respond with some things

    That used to be the case for me! Completely! They'd gnaw on my skull until I let them run free. But I guess lately they've been extremely easy to ignore. My characters are like my children! I really want to let them out to play, but getting my fingers to cooperate is strangely difficult. That came out weird.

    I don't think my writing is crap, but I'm sure many crap authors have felt the same way. And I'm not writing expressly to get published, for sure. I have my crappy little day job and am trying to figure out ways to improve it, etc. But writing something no one will ever read is also what I like to call a major downer. And I do love it. Love just hasn't been cutting it lately.

    I don't know about the motivation doubt of yours. I'm notorious for only being motivated to do things when I have someone else prodding me to get it done. Deadlines work wonders for me, and feeling obligated to finish what I started because someone else is holding me accountable (weather they actually are or not isn't really relavant in my braindome) helps.

    I finished my first novel a while ago. '08ish? But I am 50k words into my current project, which is apparently about the size of a mini novel...so it could be a whole new stage of burnout?

    I wish this were the case. But if I know the chances of me successfully shouting it out to the world, or even to like a handful of people I know, are extremely minimal...

    After getting a good night's sleep and further examination I'm almost wondering if my issue's more generalized than an acute sort of writers motivational block (I don't have writers block, there's plenty of crap bouncing around in my head) I dunno, maybe I'm depressed or something. Watching my degree wallow in uselessness while I make 1/3 as much money as my spouse for nearly as much work... Huzzah! But that would probably make me one damn chipper depressed person. Hrm.

    I guess I have one further question I suppose, but one I'll also investigate on my own. The short story thing has always come up as a way for me to share my work and even get exposure etc. But I'm terrible at short stories. I don't know why, they're just my bane. I once had a creative writing professor give me the oh so un-helpful critique that my short story had "The pacing of a novel" and, of course, no suggestions on how to fix it. And I thought that was one of my BEST shorts! Anyone have any suggestions for general areas I should look to maybe help develop my...short...muscle...hmm
     
  19. Rybe
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    Rybe Member

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    DOH, missed yours

    They're just not interested in reading. The spouse reads non fiction (the last fiction he read voluntarily was Steven King, and bitched about how terrible his style was the whole time. But to be fair, I'm not a King fan either!) And I think the last time any of my family members picked up a book for fun was quite literally years ago. So yeah, I know I shouldn't take it personally. Though it is EXTREMELY hard to not start going all neurotic and thinking they're avoiding it because it's crap and don't want to hurt me. HOPEFULLY at least the spouse knows me well enough to not do that though. Letting me toil away in garbage seems way meaner than just saying that I might need to re-evaluate...
     
  20. Nicholas C.
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    It doesn't matter who or how many are listening. It's getting it out of you that's important (for me, anyway).
     
  21. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Well, yeah, my comment is more to internal motivation instead of external. I love to procrastinate on everything and will do the same, unless there's a deadline and someone bugging me to do it, I'm not really going to work on it. External motivation is great, but if you're not getting any, then you need to focus on your internal motivations. You're at a good start, loving to write, reaching out to connect with people who share the same enjoyment of it, but work on removing that "Someone else is holding me accountable" from your statement. Make it so you feel obligated to finish because you began it; that's the only way I continue to work on multiple projects at the same time. Because I started it and, unless it's just obviously not working or is a weak idea, it needs to be finished. And that's for nothing but me.

    It could be; I did Nano and threw my hands up after November and said to hell with it. I had plenty of ideas but no will to pick up a pen for a few months.

    I can't help you with short stories; I can never manage to stay within the realms of it. Of course, you could do the site requirements of the two weeks and the reviews, then you could get some specific critiques that'll help you grow.
     
  22. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Last time a family member critiqued my stuff, he said I wrote like Dan Brown. He may have thought it a compliment because he LOVES reading Dan Brown books. Me? Not so much, so the idea that I wrote like Dan Brown made me twitch inside.

    Mind, this was four years ago, and I think my writing had improved marginally.

    To topic: I, too, struggle with motivation; especially when I have school work. Oh, I'll make up the balls-y excuses like "I gotta write 10 pages of that Ottoman paper!!" Now, I'm starting to realize that they're just excuses to let myself off the hook. Yes, I have to write that 10-page paper of Ottoman stuff for my Islamic Civilization class, but during that time when I'm not, I could put in...maybe five minutes into my story.

    I guess, sometimes, you just have to force yourself. Even if you would rather delete it all and pretend it had never happened, you just have to force yourself.

    Now, don't get me wrong, if the characters and/or plot does not give you joy, then by all means, flush them down the metaphorical toilet. However, if you constantly obsess over the characters and plots, still have that small, miniscule fascination with it...then you just have to sit your butt down and do something with it. Sometimes motivation comes later. It's weird, I know, but it's the same with all aspects of life. Sometimes it just can't come until you force yourself to do it.
     
  23. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think if the family members are of the kind that always look down on everything you do /accomplish it's not great either. Sure, they might be honest, but they might also just take it as an opportunity to be mean to you or ruin your self confidence. Some people just have nothing good to say even if it was great they wouldn't say it anyway. I am fortunate not to have family members like that but I know there are plenty of them.
     
  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yeah. There are plenty of people who aren't happy until they make someone else miserable. It's hard, but do not listen to those people. ESPECIALLY if they're your parents. They may know best about how you should lead an independant, fulfulling life, but they do not know what's best for your writing.

    To be honest, some (or most, not sure) think that when their kid says "I want to be a writer", the kid's saying, "I want to have a living doing writing, where I stay at home all day writing, and I don't have a day job."
     
  25. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    Hm... I might be guilty of that. It would be perfect job just stay at home writing... BUT I don't write just to publish... Actually, I don't write to publish at all. I just really like to write and if someday I write something that is worth publishing, I am considering being just a writer.
    Meanwhile, I am also taking ballet classes to graduate in classic ballet and I study hard to go to college. I already know what I want to study: Biotechnology...
    So being a writer it's an option, but it's not the only thing I'm seeking.

    Then my motivation to write is not linked at all with the possibility of being a writer, or even famous. It's just because writing is what I like to do besides ballet.
     

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