Sunday, April 26, 2015

Motivation And Such.

Last post I mentioned I was lacking motivation in my writing at the moment. I'm kind of sad to report that hasn't improved.

I currently lack motivation for a couple of reasons of which I'm well and truly aware, although I choose not to go into any detail here. I've spent a bit of time reflecting and looking into why I feel this way, and I must admit to not knowing what to do about it. Apart from, you know, just writing.

But I want my heart to be in it. And writing just for writing sake becomes little more than exercises that lack soul.

I work in education, and continually I hear teachers give students examples of athletes as role models in their academic studies. Just this week I heard about Michael Jordan who was cut from his high school basketball team. I would like to point out the speaker also mentioned Edison, Einstein and The Beatles who were all told at some point they wouldn't succeed. And yet it seems athletes are the examples we most often use. I've done it myself.

Last week I was told about a runner, someone who is, for the very first time, undertaking one of those iron-man thingies where they run, swim and cycle ridiculous distances. This runner, who is a friend of a friend, committed himself to finishing this event. And so he woke at 4.30 every morning, ran kilometres, trained hard, focused on where he needed to improve, controlled his diet - all the things athletes do when they are training towards something.

I have much admiration for people who commit to something like this.

I considered this as a role model for my own motivation. But as I thought about it, the less it works. While there are certain similarities, the analogy between creative and athletic endeavours doesn't satisfy me enough to be useful.

An athlete like the runner mentioned above, has a specific date and event he is working towards. I'm sure he has a goal time he would like to achieve, but I'm almost as certain he'd be happy just to finish the event. And should he not achieve either of those goals, he would be able to measure how far he fell short and what he would need to do to complete it next time.

But a writer like myself is writing a bunch of short stories,  one after another, sending them out and hoping to make a sale. And there is no second place. We either sell the story or we don't. IF we don't, we get a rejection, and it's rare they contain detailed feedback on how close we got to a sale. More often it's a generic No, Thanks. There isn't a single event we are working towards, where we do the same thing over and over and over to improve in preparation. (No, rewriting doesn't count.)

That's not to say we don't have goals. To sell to this or that particular market, to sign an agent, to make a three book deal - whatever. But so much of this stuff is outside our control.

All we can do is keep writing, hoping we improve, listen to the feedback we do actually get and then remember much of it is subjective. It's all about trying to tighten our techniques while keeping the stories human and relatable.

And a lot of this is undertaken blindly, hopefully progressing by feel or self realisation. Unlike runners, we don't always have the indicators that we're shaving seconds off our time, or getting a faster start. Or even improving.

Maybe I need a coach or a mentor.


Anonymous said...

That is a glorious picture of a tree.

Sorry to hear you are feeling unmotivated.

If by a coach or mentor you mean someone like a personal trainer who will kick your butt if you don't do your daily words - you need a serious local writers group with a minimum number of rejections to qualify for joining!

Or if you really mean that what you need is Clarion, but life is stupid and Clarion is far away - I feel ya. Life is stupid. Clarion is far away.

But try not writing, try giving up, and see how those magical words just come crawling back :)


Steve Cameron said...

Hey, Thoraiya. By coach I probably mean more Clarion than fitness instructor. And yes, Clarion is far away and I'm not convinced I could justify six weeks even if it was close.

I love the tree too. I took the photo yesterday morning while walking the dogs. It's on a track we regularly use.



Anonymous said...

Motivation, inspiration comes and goes for all writers. The 'market' for fiction is fickle and unpredictable. The part you can control is the decision to listen to your creative spirit and to dedicate yourself to the art. Not many people have this capacity. The lows might be deep, when inspiration abandons you, but the thrill of finding your voice, the secret fire of narrative that flows and expresses your visions is always worth it. I hope you find a way to write for yourself, and ignore the other voices. The rest will fall where it may.