Tuesday, 23 June 2009

On Motivation

Yeah, I know, it's been a while. If you agree to drop it, I won't make fun of that stain on your face. That one, on your right cheek. You can't see it? Oh man...

This is probably going to be a long post, and it'll be written inbetween other writing so I'll be getting progressively more drunk as we go on. Fairly warned be ye, says I.

I've been thinking about motivation a lot recently, specifically my lack of it. Try as I might, I can't seem to actually sum up the energy to get off my ass and do anything, 'anything' seemingly including reading oddly. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I've lost sight of the small picture. The big picture is right there in my mind; in fact it never leaves my mind - write a novel, get it published, earn enough money to be able to quit my job. The problem is that I seem to forget about all the steps inbetween where I am now and finishing the novel, and so I get disheartened when another day's writing is done and I see myself not that much closer to the goal. This leads to a lack of motivation, and before long I'm not bothering at all.

This is, obviously, wrong. A novel is a staggering thing to create. One hundred thousand words, very few of them coming easy. If you take it as a whole thing, writing between one and two thousand words in a day isn't really anything of an accomplishment. Taken on it's own though, its a fair chunk of writing, and means that at a fair rate I can expect to write the whole thing in around two to three months.

The real problem is that I don't see any reward from one day's writing. This is important, as I need to see the reward in anything I do to make it worthwhile for me. I had a job interview recently, and they asked the old staple question 'How do you motivate yourself?' My answer was that I motivate myself by the knowledge that I am doing my job to the best of my ability, and at the end of the day I have made a real difference (which doesn't really apply to my current job at all, but that's another story entirely...).

So, let's apply this to writing. Am I doing my job to the best of my ability? Well, tonight is the first night I've done any proper writing, so no, I am not. Do I make a difference at the end of the day? Well, not if I gauge what I've written against the 100,000 words target. This was different during NaNoWriMo, where I had a target of 2,000 words a day. At the end of the day I could see that I had written my daily target, and I knew that I had made a difference. This is what I need. So from today onwards I will write 1,000 words a day without fail. This is a target that's big enough to make a tangible difference, whilst being small enough to be achieveable. Already tonight I've written 1,153 words, and that's whilst writing this blog update, procrastinating like fuck and, erm, dancing in my chair to Michael Jackson ;). I'm just taking a pause before I write the next bit, which is going to be awkward but best done now while I'm in the right frame of mind (drunk, in other words).

The best thing is that I've reconnected with why I like writing. It was difficult to begin with, but once you get into the swing of things the way the sentences form in front of you is just an amazing feeling, and one I want more of. So, one thousand words a day. Let's do it! :D


  1. I'm very glad to hear you're getting back in the swing of things Mr Skoot sir, hurrah for you. :) How did last night's sex scene, er, come off?

    Funnily enough I've been thinking the same sort of long thoughts about motivation myself this last week; the problem was that although I was writing every day, I wasn't really getting anywhere and I was hating everything I produced.

    So eventually I came to the same conclusion you have; that I needed a goal to meet every day. Mine is a little smaller than yours at 700 words, but it keeps me on target to finish the book by November ('cause then it's NaNoWriMo time, whoo!), it's just small enough that I have some hopes of completing it even if I have a hellishly busy day, and just big enough that it should push me into the next "thousand" everyday, so I feel like I'm really getting somewhere.

    And (this is the slightly sad bit) I've written my daily wordcount down in a spare diary, and every day I complete it, I get to cover that day in Totoro stamps my friend Jenni gave me. This sounds daft, but having a method of physically marking off what I've achieved for the day makes it feel more important, and is another way of ensuring I actually do it. Otherwise I'll have a sad little Totoro-less space in my diary. Aw.

    And it seems to be working! Counting back over the last five days, I've actually written about 5000 words, so I'm doing more than my wordcount somehow. This is good.

    Jeez, sorry for the waffling Skoot! Perhaps I should have stuck this in my blog rather than cluttering up your comments...

  2. The sex scene was awesome. Some of least awkward and most sober writing of my life ;).

    Glad to hear you're getting back into the swing of it as well. Though 700 words a day is for wimpy losers :P. Totoro makes everything awesome though :D.

    And yes, you should have stuck it in your blog. I updated mine, now it's your turn ;).

  3. Gimme a break, 700 words currently feels like sweating out marbles. Argh. ;p