Thank you for coming along and checking out the third instalment of my writing journey.
In today’s Living the Dream, I’ll be picking apart something that has at various different stages been both a great friend and a bitter enemy. It’s more a mental impactor than a physical one, but it’s also perhaps the most important ingredient. You can’t have too much of it; only too little.
That ingredient is motivation.
Let’s see a metaphorical hand count of how many people have lacked this most vital of mental attributes at some point or another. How many times have you known you had to do something, but really can’t pick yourself up in order to do it?
Motivation is so important. It really can make or break you. A lack of it can see you produce something so bereft of quality that you either ruin it irreparably or need to start all over again. You can rarely wing it if your head and heart aren’t in it.
It’s something that I struggled with for the longest time where my writing is concerned. I went for years making excuses for not writing. The worst one (and it was one I used so many times) was that I couldn’t write unless my mind was clear to do so otherwise the quality would be lacking. I had to be ‘in the zone’. What made that excuse so annoying when I look back is that it’s kind of accurate and sounds so kosher to a layman.
The problem was that it was utter crap! It was no more kosher than stealing a car! It was an awful excuse and I have no idea how I convinced myself it wasn’t. While my writing quality is certainly impacted by not being ‘in the zone’ it doesn’t stop me working on other things. Brainstorming, character profiling, revising blow by blow accounts…all doable without being in the zone and, generally, once I do any of those things I find I’m soon back in that infernal zone.
I think it was a mixture of laziness and self-doubt. It seems so silly now because writing is second nature. I do it every day without fail. Whether I’m working on a new blog post or my stories, I always find time to crack open the laptop and hit the keys. It’s my escape. I just wish I could tell the old me to cut the crap when he used to make the excuses .
Motivation is what’s prevented me from finishing stories too. Those of you who write yourselves will probably be all too familiar with those stories you started writing, got so far with and then never went back to for no particular reason.
I have two unfinished stories on my laptop; both of which I’ve mentioned in my previous Living the Dream posts. Horror Holiday’s first instalment is complete, but I got so far through editing the second and then just left it one day and never returned. In A Love Worth Dying For, the main character wakes the morning after he meets the main female and that’s where his tale has been left for probably about or seven or eight years.
When will I return to them? Will I return to them? They’re so far in my past now and I’m so into my current project that I really can’t foresee an occasion where I might end up picking up where I left off with either. Actually typing that there makes me feel a little despondent…
You could probably call my motivation into question where those unfinished stories are concerned, but that’s more because I’m putting my motivation into things that I feel carry greater odds for success. Horror Holiday is something I created at fourteen years old via a love for dance music, Ibiza, sex and Friday 13th movies. It’s barely the kind of story that has ‘best seller’ written all over it. A Love Worth Dying For is a much stronger bet, but I’d likely have to start from scratch. The plot is pretty decent, but my writing style has changed a lot since I started writing it about ten years ago.
Motivation is something I don’t struggle to find nowadays. In fact I get frustrated on those days when I can’t work on my writing as much as I’d like. If I’m not writing I’m thinking about it; coming up with ideas for new stories or ways to improve my current project. I have so many different documents dedicated to just one particular story because I’m always thinking of different things to help make my journey smoother.
I decided recently (after a confab with my proof-reader – fellow WordPress blogger, Steve) that I would change an element in the prologue of my story. As a result, I’m having to go through it all again to alter all the parts that now need it thanks to that one change. Initially, the thought of doing so had me sighing like a teenager, but I’ve cracked on with it and the changes have improved the story in my opinion. Without that motivation I’d probably still be stuck with the first edit and convincing myself it was good enough.
I’ve had those times in my life where motivation deserted me aside from my writing too; usually manifesting itself as a fear of failure or rejection. I was going to enter a DJing competition in a local bar when I was twenty. I had my set all prepared and I was ready to go. I didn’t go in the end because I completely lost my nerve. That competition could well have seen the start of a dream career for me. DJing has always been as big a dream as becoming a published author.
That same fear has prevented me from going on dates with girls in the past too. Admittedly that particular side of things hasn’t worked out badly in the end, but you get my drift. I think a fear of rejection is a lack of motivation manifesting itself in other ways. You aren’t motivated enough to believe in yourself.
I still have problems with it, but luckily not where my writing is concerned. My mentality where that’s concerned now is that I’d rather fail having tried my best than not try at all. It’s not the worst thing that’s ever going to happen to me if a hundred publishers take a look at my story and decide that it’s not worth their effort. It’s definitely worth mine!
I have doubts; of course I do. The story I’ve written is really long. I have it on good authority that publishers don’t like long stories from newcomers. I’ve heard from other sources that they won’t even entertain it. You know what? That’s fine by me. The way I see it is it’s their loss if they won’t so much as check it out. Self-publishing will still be there even if they aren’t.
So there you have it. I have a dream and I’m not giving up on it. I’m motivated by one day seeing a story I wrote on a bookshelf. I’ll keep going until it happens or I die; whichever comes first. The only reason for that is because I’m finally, thankfully motivated to achieve something I want.
Who knows; if I make a success of the writing maybe I’ll have another stab at DJing…
Do you find motivation is something you struggle with? Has a lack of motivation prevented you from achieving something? Has motivation and perseverance helped you achieve something you never thought you would? Tell me about your experiences and ask any questions you might have below and I will respond in due course. Thanks for reading!