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Old 12-11-2010, 06:56 PM   #1
mukoan
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Motivation - can you invoke it?

Although writing in and of itself can usually be the motivating factor to sit down and start typing out that story stuck in my head, I, like many of you, am quite limited by time due to the demands of the mundane real world. Often the most creative time for me as an amateur writer is around ten in the morning when the coffee kicks in and I've recovered from my daily waking-up process, (I'm not much of a morning person). Unfortunately this is normally the time when I'm sitting at my desk under close observation by my boss. It is the frustrating, (although certainly not unique), bane of my existence as a writer; I cannot write when I feel most able to do so.

I also work quite long hours - by the time I get home I'm much too exhausted to hit the keyboard. I've attempted it a couple of times, but re-reading the resultant output usually causes me even more fatigue.

I've tried to work around these limitations the best I can. I've ended up purchasing a netbook so I can type in the car at regular free moments during the day. This usually includes half an hour at lunch and also about an hour from five pm to six pm. It has worked with limited success but has raised the following question: Do people on this forum have a method of invoking a sense of motivation before they write? Short of quitting my job, my daily "creativity high-point" is not an option.
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:19 PM   #2
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At one point I used to wake up earlier every morning, before work, and write for an hour or so, and then go to bed earlier at night.

I usually write in the mornings anyway, but I don't work full-time anymore.

The novel I have out at the moment was written that way, waking up early before a full-time job and writing for an hour or so.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:08 PM   #3
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I feel your pain. I am a stay-at-home parent with a two year old. I have exactly the same trouble - and yes, I've bought a netbook too.

Luke King's is good advice. I write at two points during the day, first thing and after lunch when mini-me has a bit of quiet time in his cot. I'm not a morning person either but when I wake up I lie in bed fantasising about my characters and what's doing to happen next so it's only a short step to grabbing the netbook on the way back from the morning trip to the bathroom and sitting up in bed with it.

The drawback of this technique is that you won't get a 'run' at complicated scenes. Developing plotlines as you go can get tricky, too. I also find I easily forget who said what when and if I'm trying to do a slow build of tension before a big event, or describe the gradual development of a friendship for example, it's really really difficult.

For what it's worth, I haven't quite worked out the solution to this yet, but there are three things that seem to be helping.

1. Increase the detail of the plot plan.
2. Let it rest for a while and come back to it.
3. Use a dictaphone, you can get more done in a shorter time.

If you're really, really tired I'd say don't try to write. It never works for me, I can't force it, when my brain hurts it's time to stop! It is frustrating, sometimes my brain hurts for weeks.

If you're like me, carrying on writing when your brain's dead will merely cause you to end up in a massive muddle. Trust me on this. I've just done it and the results are ugly. Book two of the trilogy will not be coming out next year because I'll have to leave it to settle now and come back to it in 6 months.

However, even during a prolonged period of brain freeze, there's always other stuff you can do; research cover designers or designs, investigate aspects of production, compile a press list for when you launch it, tweak your author website, start a blog (at least that will keep you writing) draw portraits of your characters (if you are artistic or even, like me, if you're not). None of that is writing but it will keep you in touch with your book or at least, the ideas of your book.

Finally, you mention the odd half hour in the car. If you drive a lot in your work maybe a dictaphone would help. You can tape scenes while you're travelling and write them up at night when you're intellectual faculties are blasted. It's much easier then because it's more like editing when you come to do the writing up.

This is all personal but it's how it works for me. No two people are identical but I hope some of the things I've said (or is that dumped) here will be of some use.

Cheers

MTM

Last edited by M T McGuire; 12-12-2010 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:39 PM   #4
mukoan
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Thanks for that MTM, there's some great suggestions there - especially the use of a dictaphone. I'm not sure how well I'll be able to pull that off, but I'm definitely going to give it a try. I spend a lot of time driving each day so it would be good if I could use it to my advantage.

I'm not sure if I can get up earlier to make time. That means I'd be writing at 5am, and at that hour most of my brain power is used up maintaing my aim in the bathroom.
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Old 12-19-2010, 04:42 PM   #5
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If you have a regular job just take pictures of the place with your cell phone. When at home take a look at those pictures and ask, "Do I want to stay there until I retire or should I make my best effort at writing and give it a real go so I can make money doing that instead?"
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Old 12-19-2010, 04:51 PM   #6
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I find that if I think about the plot for a while and then don't think about it actively for a few days, I'll usually get an idea to add detail to the plot outline (as MTM suggests above). This seems like an "easy" way to keep moving on the outline--with the key being that you take a few minutes to write down your ideas (I have a bad memory--ymmv).
One you are in the writing stage though, this advice wouldn't necessarily apply; although it could keep your project from going totally idle, which might be beneficial.
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Old 12-20-2010, 04:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodge View Post
If you have a regular job just take pictures of the place with your cell phone. When at home take a look at those pictures and ask, "Do I want to stay there until I retire or should I make my best effort at writing and give it a real go so I can make money doing that instead?"
hmmmmm....



...maybe you're right...
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Old 12-20-2010, 05:19 PM   #8
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I'm not a writer, but here is John Scalzi's take on it
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Old 12-20-2010, 05:38 PM   #9
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If you have a regular job just take pictures of the place with your cell phone. When at home take a look at those pictures and ask, "Do I want to stay there until I retire or should I make my best effort at writing and give it a real go so I can make money doing that instead?"
I tried that once, but was distracted by crying children. It seems that a starving writer is okay, but a writer with starving children isn't.
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Old 12-20-2010, 05:49 PM   #10
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I am still trying to figure out this writing-schedule thing. One good thing: I have almost completely given up television. That certainly helps.
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Old 12-20-2010, 06:30 PM   #11
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Although all these suggestions have been very helpful, they've all addressed the issue of working out a suitable timetable, (including the John Scalzi article that was referenced). But that actually wasn't my question. I've realised that my time is limited, and I've done what I can to identify periods when I can write. What I'm interested in however is how other people go about invoking a sense of motivation before they write - what gets their creative juices flowing?

I've got my own methods, (including browsing this highly insightful forum), however I was interested in what other people do. I'm all ready to rock 'n roll in a writing sense when I'm at my day job. i.e. when I can NOT actually write. Fine, it's frustrating but I can live that. I can live with the fact that I will be writing when I get home from work when I'm googly-eyed with fatigue. I will not try and whinge about it too much, (except to Biggles, whose patience and understanding is boundless so long as I keep his underwater castle clean).

I'd just like to feel a little more like writing when the time presents itself.
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Old 12-20-2010, 06:37 PM   #12
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Just keep doing what you can. Poking at it in little bits can be a bit rubbish for writing major scenes - but, as bthrowsnaill mentioned, it will keep the project ticking over in your head. As well as being time poor I'm a woman so there are times in the er... month when my creativity dries up totally. Put the two together and it makes things even worse but so long as it's vaguely ticking over, it moves forward. Slowly, there are glaciers speeding past me, but it does.

Good luck, I hope the dictaphone helps, it works well for me.

Cheers

MTM
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Old 12-20-2010, 07:36 PM   #13
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I read a Time article on Jonathan Franzen which described his habit of going into his rented office six or seven days a week from 7am in the morning and staying there until he was hoarse from speaking his dialogue aloud to perfect it. Reading between the lines the article describes how he spent eight years faffing about, before banging out the finished book in a year after he realised he was going to die one day.

BTW, you may THINK you're not a morning person, but it can be trained. Stay up all night then go to work. When you get home, after you've eaten you'll drift off to sleep and then wake up in the middle of the night. Rinse and repeat. It'll be a marvellous couple of weeks, and assuming you manage to keep your job it will instil in you a habit for early rising and heavy caffeine consumption that will serve you for the rest of your, obviously abbreviated, life.
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:47 AM   #14
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How I motivate myself to write in the time I have allotted for writing is, more or less, to start writing. I begin. Then I continue on.

How do I motivate myself to begin? I realize I'm delaying, and stop.

It helps that I set aside this time and set this goal. It helps if I want to write the story. It helps that I want to finish the damn thing.

I've never been sure what people want to hear when they ask for my motivations to do something. I like doing something, I do it. I don't like doing something, I tend to stop (unless forced to continue doing it; e.g., paying taxes).

I don't fear failure so much as I fear wasting my time. If I think I'm wasting my time, I tend to stop. Even if it's something I like doing, if it starts seeming pointless, the gears gum up and the machine comes to rest.

-David
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:02 AM   #15
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I've never been sure what people want to hear when they ask for my motivations to do something.
Just other people's methods. I'm not looking for an "answer" - just the methods and opinions of other writers. There may be a slight chance it will benefit me. It may even benefit some random reader of this thread who never thought to ask the question in the first place.
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