I love to write. That doesn’t mean I sit down eagerly at the computer every day and write thousands of words. Even with something I love to do, I have to come up with motivation and perseverance. I’m sure it’s true for my students, too, especially those who hate to write. My hope today is that if I share some of my frustrations with the very beginning of the process, others will be able to be inspired.
MOTIVATION. You would think that enjoying writing would be a motivation. It is, I suppose, but it’s not enough. I think of my current novel as a wonderful finished product, or bask in well-written chapters that are already completed. I am just about 2/3 done with the first draft, but haven’t been able to make much progress for months. I know that when I get started the words will flow until I am drained. I know that if I force myself just to start writing that the first page or so may very well be garbage I have to cut later. Having started, however, is what’s important. The good stuff hides behind a wall. Once that wall is broken, it leaps out.
I’ve finished four novels. The fact that I know I can do it is motivation. Chapters whirl around in my head until they just about spring forth on their own. The story I’m writing, Aloha Spirit, is a good one. I’m very happy with what I’ve drafted so far. I have ideas for revision, and sometimes I go back and work on a revision as a way to get started again. The motivation is there, I just need to move it from, “Someday this book will be finished, and it will be good” to “Today I need to write 2,000 words.”
PERSEVERANCE Students know about procrastination. It’s much easier to put something off than it is to do it. Mostly I read or play Facebook games. For hours and hours. My mind tells me that I can write for an hour and still have an hour to read, and probably an hour to play Candy Crush, too. Life gets in the way, too, of writing. Grocery shopping, house cleaning, yard work, the gym, walking the dogs, cooking, errands–some of those things I enjoy very much, some not. They all get in the way of writing. The trick is to keep coming back to the piece you’re working on whether it’s been two hours, two days, or two years since you started.
I’ve always said that authors are the ones who persevered to finish their novel. I know several people with truly awesome unfinished stories. I have one of those too (Aloha Spirit!). The only difference between novelists and writers is that authors persevere until they are done. My first book, On a Wing and a Dare, took seven years. I gave it up for months at a time. I completely started over three times. I revised the entire thing four times. Most importantly, I finished it.
So whatever you use for motivation and however strong your perseverance is, I wish you good writing. I’m off to start that next chapter.