1. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    How do you motivate yourself to write?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by InkDancer, Jun 11, 2008.

    This is a question I've been struggling with for a long time now. I start out a new project all fired up and ready, but after a while I get bogged down in the details, and the project is abandoned.

    That's not to say I haven't gotten better. I used to get bogged down on page 3, consistently, which is why I started writing short shorts. :D Now I can usually make it to the 5,000 word mark before my inertia lags, and the story sits in a drawer for future civilizations to discover.

    How do you push past that? I know that the sort answer is just to force yourself to do it, but when I try that, everything I write comes out stilted and unlovely. I feel like a kitchen faucet that hasn't been used in a few months, and all the water comes out brown and spurty.


    How do you folks handle it? :confused:
     
  2. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    That's something I've been struggling with. But I found that sitting down and telling yourself that "I must write X amount of words, or for X amount of minutes" helps. Also, having someone like a friend or family member read your story. Then you'll have them saying, "Written anything lately?"
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Write. Force yourself to sit there and write, like Kratos said, a certain amount of words per day. The initial quality is irrelevant, just make sure you get something down on paper (on on the screen, if using a word processor). It won't be grade A writing, but you can always edit it up to standard. But if you have something written down, you'll feel proud of it. And if you'll likely get so caught up in the story, that after a bit your targets become meaningless, as you're exceeding them.

    As I see it, it's kind of like a laser. It needs focusing, but after that, you can point it freely where you like. With writing, you need disclipline to get started, but then you can allow your creativity to run wild.
     
  4. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Really the only way to motivate yourself to write is to just sit down and do it. Anything else is just stalling. Maybe you get bogged down in the details for this very reason...?

    Sure, you might sit and write a half hour's worth of total drek, but which is worse--writing a bunch of drek you can always revise or rewrite later, or writing absolutely nothing?
     
  5. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    Sometimes I'm not sure. I get more depressed by drek than I do nothing. After all, if you never try, you can never fail. (And yes, I know that's a terrible attitude to have... I'm not saying it's the right attitude, just how I often feel.)

    I guess the real failure is in never trying, and with practice, the drek will get better too. I just wish that there were some easier way to boost my self-confidence enough to keep at it and not doubt that what I'm doing is worthwhile.
     
  6. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, and then there is always the reward thing. Once you get your X amount of words/minutes then give yourself a cookie or some ice cream or some other fun treat.

    That's what i do when i'm having problems writing.
     
  7. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Much of my writing is done for money, so that has its own motivation.

    Regarding the non-genre fiction, that has yet to earn me a nickel, I remind myself that these are my characters, and if I don't tell their story, it won't get told.
     
  8. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    Romantic Rose, that's a great point. I had never thought of it like that.

    And Emily, I like the way you think!
     
  9. TenderHeart
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    TenderHeart Member

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    I don't know if this is a good practice or not, but I too find that I start having problems in the middle of working on a project. If I find myself getting frustrated and blocked, then I will whip out a short story. I will try to make it funny and lighthearted.

    I usually have more than one thing going at a time. If I find myself stalled on one, then I pick up the other and run. Now I do have one as the primary which I try to focus on everyday, but if it gets to the point I don't think I can put anything down. Well then I pick up the other one and it generally flows. The next day when I go back to the other work, it just seems easier.

    Just my .02
     
  10. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm pretty food-orientated. lol
     
  11. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Banzai,

    I have the greatest respect for your clearly-demonstrated writing skills and for your advice in general. With regard to the "just keep writing" mentality, it does not work for me. In fact, it has the opposite effect. If I write something that turns out terrible, I become depressed and don't want to write anymore. It pushes me away from writing, and if I force myself to continue, the quality diminishes further...becoming a downward spiral.

    On the other hand, if I give myself permission to push away from the keyboard for a day or two, then when I return the results often exceed my expectations. I'm not failing to "write" during the break, on the contrary, my creative subconscious is tearing apart the story to solve whatever issue stymied me in the first place.

    Your method works for you, and I know from reading other posts that it works for others as well. I only added my personal slant on the matter because "one size may not fit all" aspiring authors. Either that, or...oh my God...I hope I'm not just some loser who hasn't got it figured out yet! LOL

    .....NaCl
     
  12. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    I do the same thing - sometimes taking several days to mull over my ideas, occasionally just brainstorming on the computer. (I'll take key words or themes from the story, and just write randomly whatever comes into my head from that. Sometimes I'll even google those words and look at what comes up, if something strikes me as intriguing, I'll write down my immediate response to it. These writings are just for my own sense of clarity, only very occasionally will any of it make an appearance in the final product).

    The reality for me is that I need to be excited about what I am doing, if I am not, the results tend to be ineffective and bland - perfunctory, I suppose, is the exact word.

    :)
     
  13. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    So in other words, sometimes it's okay to suck, and sometimes it's okay not to write. I'm not being sarcastic... that's kind of a relief! I kept getting stuck on the idea that when I wasn't writing, wasn't pushing through whatever block I had built, I was doing something wrong. That made me feel guilty, and that made me avoid the thing that made me feel guilty... the writing.

    Huh.

    I guess if I get some distance but don't let that distance get too great, it might work out better. I like the idea of working on another project, too.
     
  14. Marloy
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    Marloy Contributing Member

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    I'm like some others have said, I can't force myself to write. It's a fine mentality, but when I force myself, I at times feel that when I don't have the motive to write, I might as well not write in the first place.

    Even on the story I'm writing now I'm dealing with the 'not being able to write' aspect. When I feel I don't want to write it is usually because I think I can't, because when I force myself it usually comes out as stale and uninteresting, at least to me.

    It's hard. What keeps me going really is my conviction to the story. When I know it's one that I need to write I figure I'm going to have to do it sometime otherwise it will never be told. Even when I can't do it I remember how much I love the story or characters etc. and that I need to write it in a sense not to let it down (I restart all the time), or I become extremely frustrated.

    My advice would be to make sure it's a story you want to tell. When I've got a piece I couldn't care less about I don't attempt to write it anyway. I know I'll never get to the end, because I don't care to tell it. When I have a story to write, I just remember that I want it written, and it helps me to start writing (again and again). :p
     
  15. Flightlessfoofaraw
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    Flightlessfoofaraw Member

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    I tend to go through phases, I think. My biggest problem is trying to find the mental energy, having spent the day doing a fairly intelectually intense job. Sit down and make yourself, is the best advice i've seen given so far :D Spend time when you're not writing thinking about the project too, about new characters, or new plot twists. Then, when you do sit down to work on it, you're not completely out of ideas.
     
  16. penhobby
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    penhobby Contributing Member

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    Sometimes life bogs down my mental creativity, leaving me feeling as though I have mush for brains. It’s hard to write when you feel like that. However, I generally will force myself to spend at least an hour a day writing something, anything. For me personally it is crucial to my general well being to write every day, even when I'd rather not.

    Writing for so many of us is directly connected to our emotions, so it stands to reason that when we are emotionally distressed it will come out through our writing. And it’s usually a beautiful thing that emerges; so keep writing no matter what.
     
  17. Writer's Coin
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    Writer's Coin New Member

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    I'm with Banzai on this one. Just get through it and worry about how "good" it is later. This usually happens to me as I write. I'll start and be running along fine. Then, as I'm moving ahead in the story (or on day 2 of writing it) I have trouble with the writing and liking what I'm writing. I go back to day 1 and think "Wow, this is pretty good/funny, but how come Day 2 is so bad?"

    But I have to write anyway. The editor will take care of it later, way down the road.
     
  18. Vertz
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    Vertz Member

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    If that works well for you, great. The only issue I see with taking a break due to writing frustrations is that not all writers will continue to mull over the issue as you do. I find it harder to take a break and get back into a piece later than to just finish it and edit after. It may be that I think too much about the issue and don't resolve the problem until I finally sit down and write. But, as you said, it is a personal choice.
     
  19. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    I seem to have unintentionally discovered a real difference in the way you guys work.

    Cool. :D
     
  20. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    By the way, I have only recently discovered another way to rekindle my enthusiasm after I slip into in a writing funk...this forum. I know this sounds silly, but after reading other people's questions, or reviewing someone else's writing, or even engaging in a bit of frivolity or debate, my enthusiasm for writing mysteriously returns. Some of my best late night writing comes after I leave the stimulation of this site.

    .....NaCl

    (Daniel, you can mail my promotional check to my PayPal account! LOL!)
     
  21. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    Both of these things are definitely alright! Sometimes I need a break from writing. I can usually tell when I'm needing this - writing at this point feels like a chore and is something that I'll do only when I have nothing else to do...and if this is the case, I usually just let myself take a break. I'm not published; I'm not paid to write. I do it simply for my enjoyment, and when it's not enjoyable, I don't force myself to do it.

    Sometimes though (like now, for instance) I just need to get away from my story. So I started writing a different, non-fiction story about myself. Kind of autobiographical, I suppose. And now I'm anxious to get back to my characters and see what they have to tell me. I miss them! They're kind of like good friends - I got frustrated with them, but after some time away I'm ready to go back and make nice again :p

    And it's always okay to suck...or at least that's what I tell myself! If it wasn't, I might never write anything again!
     
  22. LadyJustin
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    LadyJustin New Member

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    Libby,
    I loved your reply to the members dilema. Right now I have three different projects I'm writing on. Whatever mood I wake up in determines what I'll be working on. Or sometimes it's just a nice day for a walk.
    :)
     
  23. YOU BETRAYED THE LAWL
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    YOU BETRAYED THE LAWL New Member

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    Personally, I don't like writing multiple stories at once. I like to stick to one so I know it very well. What I can suggest is, well what helps me anyways is trying to visualize what has happened so far, and what you want to happen in the next scene. Then simply, write it.
     
  24. flashgordon
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    flashgordon Contributing Member

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    I'd go the other way. I have to write multiple pieces at once to prevent any burnout from writers block. Of course, I write mostly nonfiction, so that probably helps.

    How do I motivate myself to write? Easy, I look at my bank account.
     
  25. squire848
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    squire848 Member

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    Lack of motivation

    This tends to happen to me when I must write for work purposes. Or when I have an idea I wish to write about, I find it hard to just sit down and expand on it instead of simply reflecting on it.

    The best advice I have ever heard is just sit down and write. Just write.

    But what motivates you?
     

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