Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How To Stay (or get) Motivated

This week’s topic actually goes along real well with my previous post for the Blog Chain. Staying motivated is actually something I struggle with. Writing is hard work. I enjoy it. But when Real Life rears it’s sometimes ugly head (and it always does), finding the time, energy, and motivation to write isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

So, here are a few things I do to help get me “in the mood.”

1. Find something to make me laugh.
When I am in a bad/sad/stressed mood, the last thing I want to do is write. I’m not sure why that is. I have a great time going over the stories in my head. But getting those stories from my head onto my computer sometimes takes more effort than I want to put in just then. But if I can lighten my mood, laugh a little, I start to relax, and suddenly writing seems like less of another “to do” item and more of a fun activity. Things like this…
make me laugh and help me take myself a little less seriously. A good British comedy or standup routine is always good for a few laughs as well.

2. Take a short break and fix what is bugging me.
If I am not motivated to write, chances are, there is something else bothering me. Maybe I need to fold some laundry and I just can’t settle in to write because I can see the 15 loads of clean clothes from the corner of my eye. Maybe I promised my kids I’d have cookies waiting for them when they got home from school, or maybe I forgot to make my bed, or any one of a hundred other things. Now, I’ll admit I’m a little more…anal than some people :D However, if I just go take care of whatever it is that is making me feel guilty for writing, then I can sit and write and enjoy myself instead of fixating on other things.

3. Get inspired.
So many things inspire me that this one is actually a good way for me to get motivated. A few of my favorite inspirations are:
- Music. Some songs just really hit me hard and make me want to write. For one of the stories I am working on, I pretty much have James Blunt’s “Same Mistake” on repeat. A few other bands that always inspire me are Apocalyptica, Coldplay, Everlast, Rob Dougan, Evanescence….those haunting melodies are just great inspiration for the drama needed for some good fiction.
- Art. My walls are plastered with art. My husband teases me about it because there is not one blank wall in our house. I also troll the internet…photobucket.com is a great place for inspiration. I collect gorgeous nature shots and other pictures like this…


I see some of these places and want to write a scene that takes place there. Can't you just see your long lost love sitting on that bench beneath the gorgeous red tree, or see a royal fairy court peeking from beneath those incredible pink trees, or feel something stalking you through the eerie red haze of the last picture? Or I’ll see a picture like this…



and I want to write a scene where my characters feel the way the people in the picture look like they feel.
- Movies. Certain movies just really hit home and tweak emotions that are hard to contain. My current favorite is P.S. I Love You. I’ve watched it I don’t know how many times, because it makes me laugh and cry and drool (Gerard Butler…ummm gorgeous!). It makes me want to write something that will make people feel the way I feel when I watch it.

4. Read.
I read. A lot. And I mean A LOT. If you are going to be a good writer, I think it’s a necessary part of the process to read. I call it research. It gets me an eye roll from my non-reader husband, but it really is research. Most of the time I get lost in the story, but now, as a writer, I can never really shut off the edit mode. Sometimes I’ll come across a passage or a really good (or bad) dialogue sequence and think, “wow, I love how she did this,” or “ooo, I never would have worded this like this, it just doesn’t work.” Reading other’s work makes it easier to spot both the good and the bad things in my own work.
And, like the movies and the music, sometimes I’ll read a book that just inspires me to write, inspires me to create something that will invoke the emotions that I felt while reading.

5. Last, but not least, I go to my patient and saintly friends.
They put up with a lot from me. A have a few very good friends who get a copy of just about every email, passage, chapter, query letter, and synopsis I have ever written. They deal with my insecurities about everything I do. They love me enough to tell me when I suck and are genuinely ecstatic for me when I succeed. They encourage me to write when I’m in a slump and they support me when I need to slow down a bit.
They make the whole process easier. In fact, just recently, a good friend of mine suggested doing a weekly write-a-thon. I think there were ten of us that showed up (online). We set a timer and wrote for fifteen minutes and then got to chat for fifteen minutes. Not only did I get a ton done that night, I had a blast doing it. It’s like having a buddy to go to the gym with. It’s easier to do if you’ve got someone there to do it with. If you don’t have any writing friends yet, I highly suggest finding some, because this is a tough business and it is more wonderful than I can express to have people to go to who understand what I’m going through.

These are just a few things that I do get myself motivated and in the writing mood. Everyone is going to be different, so these things may not work as well for you as they do for me. All you really need is the right mindset, a little inspiration, and the support of a few good people, and the motivation takes care of itself.

As February is the month of luuuuv, the How To posts for next month will focus on how to write four different forms of poetry. First up is my favorite form, heroic couplets. So come back next Tuesday to find out how to write your special valentine a heroic couplet poem!

1 comment:

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oooh, great post, as always. And how do you always find the best LOL cats?