Low motivation, Procrastination, and other types of creation stagnation

Writing is a very vulnerable thing.

Very vulnerable.

You, as the writer, have a story to tell.  You clearly value this story, you are taking the time to write it, after all.  You’re excited about it.  You love it.  In Sci-Fi, you love the gadgets your mind has invented, the expansiveness of your universe, the characters you’ve brought to life.  When I write my mind actually plays the movie for me.  I can sit in front of my monitors and write a paragraph, then see it unfold.  The action, the drama, the conflict, and the pain all play out in perfect technicolor in my head. 

The effort is to get that from my head into the words you read on paper, and that is, sadly, not always as effective as I’d like it to be.  It’s hard to write that perfect sentence that encompasses all the emotion, action, and drama of your story.  It’s virtually impossible to write 80,000 words filled with such perfect sentences. 

At times I’ll read what I’ve written, sigh in disgust, and walk away.  THAT is not what I want to say!  The keyboard betrayed me.  LOL.  At that moment I tend to get up, walk out to the garage, and weld on a sculpture, or tinker on the car.  A step back may help to bring clarity, I hope.  Last night I played a computer game for four hours instead of writing.  I thought about my story, but none of it made it to written text.  I ask myself, are these things procrastinating or are they healthy pauses in the creative process?  I guess that depends on what you feel when you step back into that process.

It’s easy to get frustrated with a less than stellar output.  You read the, pardon me, ‘crap’ you just wrote and worry if you’re a writer or just a pretender.  But as a writer you have to keep telling yourself that what you put on page the first time, the second time, or the tenth time isn’t necessarily what you’ll submit to the world as your masterpiece.  I completely deleted and rewrote chapter 2 this week.  A complete deletion isn’t always necessary, but in this case it was.  It might be again, I’m not content with the rewrite either.  The second version may be able to be edited to acceptability, however.  We’ll see.

You can expect a list of other motivational hits as well.  Family is a huge factor, I’m finding my biggest anchors to be the attitude my family can display at time.  They can tend to think this is a hobby, not a job.  I can understand that opinion, even if I think it’s a very shortsighted one.  If you’re the family member of a writer, constantly interrupting them and expecting them to conform to your schedule is not helpful to their success.  “Oh, he can do it, he’s just writing,” is not a valid thought process that will result in the success of your family member.  If you love them, support them just as you would an athlete, a musician, or an artist.

When a person is writing, motivation gets hit by your own frustration with your writing, critiques that might not go as expected, or simply because you get a bit fed up with trying to get the story on paper to fit what is in your head.  If you let that dominate you, it will.  You will then fall into procrastination, something I might be doing right now by writing this instead of another chapter of my book.  Something I might have fallen prey too last night by playing a computer game instead of writing. 

I’ve made a commitment.  Six hours a day toward writing, five days a week.  That includes this blog, research, and time spend just sitting and thinking about the storyline.  It also includes time spent at writing group.  I’ve discovered that many days I do eight hours, but then I allow myself two hours off a following day if I like.  Lately I’ve been putting in well over six hours a day.  So I have a standard, but not a slave driving standard.  It’s helped to make that commitment to myself.  Not to my writing, but to myself.  This book it being written with the hopes that you like it, but I am writing it to satisfy a need within myself.  If the book is successful, then I get to write for you.  But the first one is for me.

If you can beat the factors that stomp on your motivation, if you can make a commitment to dedicate a certain time to the writing process, you can get past the things that slow you down. 

This blog may or may not be intelligible.  The writing of this particular entry has been very stream of consciousness.  I hope it worked.

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