1. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is the motivation to be published enough?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ben414, May 18, 2014.

    I was reading some of the 'Why Do You Write?' thread, and I decided that I wanted to ask a more specific question.

    I have recently been struggling to find motivation to write, and I thought about why this was happening. Ideally, I would like to write a novel that would be published and read by a (relatively) mass audience. My reason for writing, like many other writers who want to be published (I presume), is to share my thoughts/emotions with readers and have them see what I see in my writing.

    The only problem is that many fully-written novels are never published, and I would hate to spend all of my time writing and editing my novel to have it waste away. I know that people can self-publish, but the rejection by publishers and lack of audience in doing so would feel like a disappointment to me.

    Anyway, I'm wondering what motivations are driving other people who are trying to become published for the first time. Also, how much does the potential rejection and lack of audience audience deter you from your goals?

    EDIT: I believe I have the skills/ability to become published, or at least the potential to become published in time as I continue to improve.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2014
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  2. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Not at all, any more. I write it, I publish it, if people like it they buy it, if they don't... they don't.

    Would be nice if I sold 500+ copies of all my books, but I've sold hundreds of some and at least made my direct costs back on all of them.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Rejection happens. That's just a fact of life. If a person can't deal with that, then he/she isn't cut out to be a writer.

    The lack of audience doesn't really bother me. I'm writing for like-minded readers, and my writing is most likely not going to appeal to the average reader, which I'm perfectly fine with. So as long as you accept those things, I think you should be fine.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Have you actually written very much yet, or are you just thinking about it?

    I don't know. Everybody is different. For me, the motivation to get a strong story written is what drove (and still drives) me. That feeling I got when I finished my first draft of my first novel is something I'll always remember. I Have Written. I have created characters who wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for me. I am an 'author.'

    I'm still working on my final edit of this book, as well as working on my next book. Whether or not the general public will like these stories or not is still in the future. My beta readers, for the most part, seem pleased, as am I. I have confidence that if my novel reaches the right people, it will matter to them. But that's another sphere entirely, and one I'm only approaching now.

    Just like anything else, acceptance and accolades come later, after the 'thing' has been created. I don't think any writer would be displeased if their writing became popular, sold like crazy, and became a 'classic.' But I reckon that's the same in any field of endeavour. Most people who strive at something want it to be good, and would like recognition. Whether the product is good and whether or not recognition comes is down to many factors, both within and outwith the author's personal control. You throw your stuff out there and hope it's a hit.

    Unless you're a big celebrity, whose book will automatically sell because of who you already are, I'd say EVERY author who has ever written a book had to start from scratch. They had no idea if they could even accomplish the task, finish the book ...and absolutely no idea of whether or not it would be well-received or published. Everybody starts from that point.

    The fact is ...you won't get published or get any recognition at all, if you don't write the book in the first place. So I'd get it written to the highest standard you can achieve, and see how you feel about writing then.
     
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  5. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have written exactly one scene that may or may not actually fit into my end story. However, I have been thinking about this story for quite some time and do have some ideas for the plot, characters, conflict, etc. I do want to tell this story... I just don't want it to fall on deaf ears. I guess that's mine and every other first-time author's problem too.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think you've been doing the best and most important thing you can do—thinking about the story for quite some time and letting it grow in your mind. If you can get scenes fixed in your head, hear dialogue, feel the emotions of your characters, see the setting ...hey, all you have to do is write down what you're seeing, feeling and hearing. :) A skoosh!
     
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  7. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    While publication is my ultimate goal, it helps to realise what I'm getting out of the journey too. It's a lot easier if you enjoy the process itself. If nothing else remember you're developing all sorts of skills that can be useful in other endeavours. Project management, self critique, creativity, grammar, research, insights into the human condition and more. An unpublished novel shouldn't be viewed as a representation of wasted time.
     
  8. Mercissa
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    Mercissa Member

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    I used to think the same. Actually, in my third grade immature self (which was when I started on this path), I had wanted really badly to write a book but knew somehow that I couldn't do it alone. I called upon my then-best friend to help me out, which didn't turn out well. She ended up ditching me before we even started. Then, out of spite, I decided I wanted to finish the book and become a great author. It took me six years to write it but boy, was it worth it. I learnt so many things along the way and I had a final completed story to show for it! By then, writing had become a significant part of my life (although it was a pity that I didn't realize it until now - after four years of business school.).

    But I think once a really great idea has taken a hold of me, it's no longer about getting published, being famous and getting money out of it. For me, it's about getting a really epic story together, something that I can look back to as a bit of my own personal history of my imagination - a personal achievement. Once an epic story idea has taken hold, there's no going back. I just have to write it all until I'm satisfied.
     
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  9. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll add that there is a great degree of self-motivation and discipline.

    Yes, there is the long view (because it takes a long time to write a novel) about long-term goals, and the reason for those goals, be it to be read by others (sharing that story), or an opportunity to earn some extra income to pay bills, or a desired career choice, or even an item on a bucket list.

    For some the motivation to be published is enough. But that motivation has to be backed up by the drive to sit down at every opportunity, to write and research and edit and revise and study the business, and write some more and edit some more. That's where the self-motivation comes in. Would it be easier if there was a guarantee of a publishing contract and/or of 10,000 readers? Maybe. Because, as has been said above, there is no promise of readers and a good chance of repeated rejection from agents and/or publishers.

    I write because I think I have some interesting stories to share.
    I write because it makes me a better English teacher.
    I write because it helps me earn CEUs to maintain my license.
    I write because I enjoy it.
    I write because it helps pay the bills.
    I write because it's neat to have my name on a cover.
    I write because I want the opportunity to meet readers and other writers at signings, events and conventions.
    I write because it enables me to share and help others along in their writing aspirations.
    I write because it keeps my mind active, and I am productive.
    I write because it's a good example for my daughters.
    I write because it's a challenge.
    I wrote my first novel because it's something I told myself in college that it was something I'd do one day.
    I write because I think reading is important, and having a few more good stories out there counts for something along that line.

    I don't write because of the massive royalty checks.
    I don't write because I crave fame.
    I don't write to prove a point to anybody.
    I don't write because I simply have a bunch of spare time to fill.
    I don't write because I enjoy rejection and less than positive reviews from readers.


    I guess whatever motivation or reason gets a writer to sit down hour after hour, month after month, doing what it takes, and passing up other opportunities (because it takes time and effort and dedication--which means some other fun or interesting activities will have to be passed up), is what will work.

    Many (many) people talk about writing a novel.
    Some actually sit down and start.
    Some of those actually get that first draft finished.
    A few of those actually study and work to improve their writing.
    Some of those even edit and revise and polish again and again.
    A fraction of those actually finish.
    And a some of those submit to agents/publishers, endure rejection and continue the process until success is reached (and continue writing). Or self-publish, producing a quality product (including editing, cover, formatting, etc.) and put it out there and sometimes endure the obscurity and/or reader rejection and keep going at it until they reach a level of success.
     
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  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I want to be published, but that isn't why I write. I write because I have stories to tell and like telling them. As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that the anxiety I felt as a teenager - how dare I presume that I have anything to tell anyone else - has faded with life experience. Publishing is simply the means by which I hope to share my story with others.

    I wrote a novel many years ago, edited it thoroughly until I had what I thought was a finished work and began the querying process. Got lots of rejections. But one agent, whom I queried via e-mail, to wrote back pointing out that my writing style was "immature". Of course I was irritated, but I also needed to know exactly what she meant and I asked. Turns out she had a laundry list of common mistakes - too much incidental and irrelevant dialogue, unnecessary dialogue tags, descriptions that didn't add to the story and spoonfeeding the reader were the main ones. I thanked her, went back and edited some more, but eventually realized that I had taken the project about as far as I could without simply going back and starting over, and I set it aside.

    Did I fail, simply because I didn't succeed in getting it published? Absolutely not. It was a huge learning experience, not only because of the agent but also because I actually got an entire story down on paper, researched a lot of background, developed characters, went through the editing process and experienced part of the publication process. And in doing all of that, I sprouted ideas for half a dozen other stories.

    I pursued two of them, completing first drafts and doing extensive editing. One, I did not consider good enough to submit, but the other I did. This time, because the story was about a priest in a poor, urban neighborhood that did not fit the restrictions of so-called Christian fiction but with religious references that would be off-putting to mainstream fiction publishers, I looked for someone who might fit my needs. I found a blog of someone who was an editor for a small house that seemed to fit the bill and I e-mailed him, outlining my problem. He responded by asking for the full ms. He decided it wasn't for him, but also came back with several observations about the story that I found useful - less general than the first, but quite relevant to learning the difference between creating the story and presenting that story to the reader.

    Was the time I spent on those novels wasted because they were not published? I certainly don't think so. I've learned a great deal, my writing continues to improve, new ideas continue to emerge and I love doing this. And, every once in a while, I go back to one of the three projects and reread them to mark my progress and to enjoy anew the fruits of my labor.
     
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  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    To be blunt, if you feel that writing when there's a good chance of never getting published is a waste of time, you shouldn't be writing. One writes because they enjoy it and/or are good at it - publication is a side benefit, a goal to work toward, but should not be the only reason to write.
     
  12. Patra Felino
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    Patra Felino Active Member

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    I'm not at the novel-writing stage yet; I'm still trying to put together a short story that isn't full of flaws!

    I enjoy it because I don't feel any pressure. I count myself lucky in that I have a job that I enjoy and I'm good at, but I know I've got to do well most of the time. Even with some hobbies, like chess or poker, I get annoyed when I make a mistake because I've been playing them for so long that I should know better.

    But writing? If I ever get any success at all from it, then that's pure bonus. Being published would be ridiculously good, even if it only earned pocket money. At the moment, I'd be happy with winning the bi-weekly short story competition! And if I never do, I'll be glad I spent my time trying rather than watching TV.
     
  13. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I want to be published. I'm sixteen now, I have wanted that since I started writing (VERY unsuccessfully) when I was eight. For eight years I've been writing, trying to make it a reality, trying to improve. And sometimes that is a drive for my writing. But more often than not, it's not my drive.

    For some, the motivation to be published is driving them. But I've got a feeling that if they logged into these forums and looked through the horror stories in the Publishing subforum (that's what I thought of them the first time I read that subforum), those who are only writing to be published would turn and run away and never come back. It seems so unlikely to be published, so you'd have to want to write to be successful.

    Publishing is not a large enough motivation to write novels. I know that. I'm not sure about short stories that take a day or a week to write. But with novels, which take months, it can't be the sole motivation.
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    To be honest, new writers, such as myself, get into this because of the enticing image of being published. I remember reading Harry Potter and thinking how cool it'd be if I had a book or two on the shelf at my local library with my own name on it. Bam, the writing bug got me. That was ten years ago.

    The task for new writers is to get into the frame of mind that the actual writing is the most important thing to do, it's the #1 priority. Easier said than done, believe me. I've only now, ten years later, started to realize this and write for the sake of writing.
     
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  15. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is the thing. This is paraphrasing (I wish I could find the exact quote but it was long ago I first read it), but there are people who want to be writers, and there are people who want to write. The first will either drop out when they realize how hard it is, or morph into the second; the second will keep writing regardless.
     
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  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It ain't gonna fall on any ears at all if you don't write it, and that's the greatest shame, isn't it, to know there's a good story but there's not even ever going to be the chance, not even the slightest chance it'll ever be read because... well, you haven't written it!

    Just write it, and worry about publishing later. You're running before you can walk. And to be honest, none of us would ever start if we actually believed our work won't ever make it. To start, you *have* to start with a certain level of self-belief. It's like getting married - you probably wouldn't marry in the first place if you were convinced you'd get a divorce. So you aren't gonna write if you're convinced it won't ever get out there. (I mean write seriously - not just writing something you're never gonna edit or polish or think through etc)

    Either way, the point for you to worry about publishing is far, far away yet - for now, just enjoy the process. Do you enjoy writing? Yes? Then write. Do you want to tell your story? Yes? Then write. It's really that simple.

    Now to your question - what motivates me to write? I'm not sure. It's just a lot of fun, and I love the sense of achievement I have when I've written something good - in the same way I feel good whenever I've made something beautiful (I do a lot of arts and crafts too). I want people to see this and recognise it - put it down to an innate desire to show off, I don't know - but I want people to see my work, and love it. Writing is relaxing, and it's creative in a way that drawing, beading, sculpting etc aren't. Those other things relax but it winds your mind down. Writing is the opposite - it wakes your mind up and makes it active.

    Writing has become the only thing I feel I actually know, it's the only thing I've ever achieved - I am not published, but I say "achieved" because it's the only thing I've ever cared enough to work on. I fluked through education and things usually come easily to me, and I don't put a lot of effort into them, thus the quality of my work has always been good, or even very good, but it's never been, "Yes, I know this." I've never felt as though I really knew the subject. But writing - I've cried over my manuscript and written it from scratch 3 times, I've got three full drafts at 80,000 words that I just ditched, trying to perfect the story. I worked for this. And because of that, it's also the only thing I'm really, truly proud of.

    I didn't call myself a writer until I started working on my novel. I wrote before but never edited or planned. Then I started work in earnest, and as the days passed I realised slowly, I'm a writer. I really am, because I've worked for it. I've put my heart and soul into this. It's who I am and what I want to be known for.

    And of course, ever since I was 9, I've been dreaming of one day seeing my name on a book. To have my own book on the shelves. I'd love that.

    So, I write to be published, sure. But I'd write anyway even if it never got published traditionally. I'd just push it out via self-publishing. Because while I want the glamour of the trad route, in the end, if my work is getting read - I really, really couldn't care less about how it's been made available. I guess you could boil it down to: I write to be read. In any case, I've long decided I'd probably want some books self-pubbed and others trad-pubbed. Any shorts or promotional pieces, prequels, and also novels that can't seem to find a home with a publisher - I'd self-pub those. And then others, I'd hunt an agent down. My point is - it wouldn't ever come to the point where my work is not read, and if it is read and loved, even by a few people, then to be honest, I'd be quite satisfied.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I plan to edit until my story is good enough to be published. If it is and no publisher picks it up, I'll self publish. When I think it's ready and if a couple readers agree, like my son who is an avid reader and honest with critique, and maybe my critique group if anyone will read the finished version after having painfully waded through the unfinished chapters, then I won't need a publisher to agree. It would be nice, but I'm comfortable without such recognition.

    I'm writing the story for me, not for a select group of publishers. I can't imagine writing it if that weren't the case.
     
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  18. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the replies, everyone. It's always great hearing this stuff from people who are either in the same boat as me or are further along my desired path. I know there are other motivations, but they didn't seem tangible until hearing it from all of you. :rolleyes: I may still have doubts about my ability to get published, but I want to give my story a shot.
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think more novice writers are derailed by insecurity than anything else.

    Go write.
     
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  20. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    ^ This.

    I've only been writing a short while and I can honestly say when I put pen to paper for the first time, it was not with any desire to get published, it was simply to see if I had in me what it takes to construct a story. Then, much like Ed's experience of having his work branded as immature, I started to see flaws. I've been trying to eliminate them, one by one, increasing my knowledge of the nuts and bolts of spelling and grammar, trying out different styles to see what compliment any innate ability I have, and which serve the story I'm endeavouring to tell the best.

    It's not publication I'm thinking of at this point, it's raising my writing to a publishable standard, and until I feel it is, I'm more than happy to plough ahead because I'm learning so much, not just about writing, but about myself.

    If I manage to pull myself up by the bootstraps sufficiently and then get lucky, all well and good, but even with the effort I've gone to already, if the benefits I've reaped as a consequence are all I have to show for it, I'll still feel like I've succeeded.
     
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  21. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    This basically.

    I think Dickens said that anyone who writes for any reason other than money is an idiot, but then plenty of other writers say the exact opposite.

    Your point of view probably depends a bit on whether you are a bestselling author or not I suppose.

    The thing which is intriguing about writing is that its something you can do in your spare time, where you have complete control over the end product, and that end product has no real expiration date or limit on the rewards.

    Did JK Rowling think when she first sat down in Starbucks buying a latte she couldnt afford that she would be one of the richest women in the world a few years down the line?

    Did renowned writer Dan Brown realise that he would become a renowned writer of renown, with a brace of dreadful bestselling books and even worse film adaptations to his name? Maybe they did. Maybe they were 100% sure that is what would happen. It wont happen for most of us, but it does happen to some of us.

    I think this is what keeps me writing. The book is only part of the story I am trying to tell. Me writing is another part, and I want to see what happens.

    I'm too far in now to to stop so I guess this is what I do with my 'spare' time.
     
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  22. Master Attano
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    Master Attano Active Member

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    To be honest I would love to have published books which are read by thousands, but in reality I would be happy if at least one other person read my stories and enjoyed them. I write stories that I would enjoy reading so really, I'm just writing for myself and if anything else comes out of that then fantastic
     
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  23. benmetcalfe8
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    Even though I haven't finished my novel, my motivation remains the same. I have a story to tell and I want people to be able to share that story with me, no matter how few or how many.
     
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  24. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    I think there's no such thing as 'wasted time' in writing, or in any other endeavor. It's a process that never ends, but every step is necessary if you hope to reach a point of mastery. So many people quit stuff when the beginning proves difficult, but that's where devotion comes in. If you love something and must do it, then you can't help but plow through, and those stages become something to build upon.
     
  25. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    I understand what you're dealing with. As much as I intrinsically enjoy working on my novels, the idea that nothing will ever come of them does mean I don't have any external motivation to work on them. And sometimes my internal motivation just doesn't seem strong enough to push me to work on them every single day.

    This is probably one of the reasons it's easier for me to write short stories and children's stories. I can finish them more quickly and find out if someone wants to publish them more quickly. The feedback comes sooner. This gives me an external push to go along with my internal push.

    My advice to you would be to start out with smaller pieces, something you can get out there more quickly. This will be more motivating in an external sense.

    Maybe even do the short story and flash fiction contests on this site. Those are addicting and fun, and it'll get you writing. The more you write, the more you'll improve, so it's a win even if you don't win. Or you could write something short and submit it to various online journals. See if anyone's interested.

    Because you don't have to spend as much time on short pieces, the external motivation (money/publication/what people have to say about your work) comes more quickly. Knowing that you're going to get some sort of external feedback in a more timely manner might help you feel more motivated to write.

    I know it's been more motivating for myself lately. Sadly I haven't been writing in any of my novels for quite some time. (I have three novels started... :eek: ) But I've submitted countless short stories for publication and I've been submitting contest pieces almost weekly, so I'm still being productive with my writing just in a different way.
     
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