Okay, first things first. I know I didn’t do a post last Friday, so my deepest apologies. The lack of activity was due to a combination of things – a late cancellation combined with a generally crappy day meant that things just got away from me and I wasn’t able to put something together. Fear not, though, I have things lined up for this Friday so it’s only a minor blip.
Aside from my general lack of blogging, though, today I was going to talk about motivation. I’ve been sick lately so finding the motivation to get out there and write has been more difficult than usual. Sure, the ideas are there, but the thought of actually opening that Word document and writing just hasn’t appealed.
My way of getting past this is, oddly enough, NaNo. Yes, I know that last week I said loud and clear that I wasn’t going to do NaNo this year as I wanted to get my WIP out of the way first. However, what I’ve decided to do is my own mini NaNo, in that rather than aiming for 50,000 words during November, I’m heading for 15,000. That’s 500 words a day, and if I get that done then I’ll be, if not finished, then very close to. I’m doing okay, too – today (in my part of the world) is the 5th of November, so that means I need to have 2500 words done by the end of today. Well, I’m not there yet, but it’s not yet midday so I’ve got time, and I’m over 2000 to start with. That means less than 500 words and I’m on track.
I know that personal NaNos don’t work for everyone, though, so I’ve come up with a few other methods that might help with motivation.
1. Carrots, as in carrot-and-stick methods. In this case, reward yourself. I’ve promised that I’ll get myself a manicure when the manuscript is finally done – or, at least, the first draft is. This isn’t necessarily because I’m huge fan of getting my nails done, but it feels like a good reward for my fingers, which are what has been doing the bulk of the work in typing this story out. In other words, set up a reward system for significant milestones, like some personal pampering, or a night out with friends, or a fancy lunch, or whatever. Not a huge reward (I don’t condone celebrating every chapter finish with a weekend away, for example), but something that fits the task at hand.
2. Sticks. This is punishing yourself if you don’t meet certain milestones. This doesn’t work nearly so well as people respond so much better to positive than negative rewards, but sometimes it just works to do it this way. This has worked for me in the past when I denied myself chocolate until I’d written 1000 words in a day. (This was especially effective when I had the chocolate just sitting there, looking at me, and I was forcing myself not to have it.) Stick methods are probably better for short term goals than long term ones, or at least they are for me.
3. Competition/social deadlines. This is where something like NaNo comes in, though it’s not necessary; it could be an agreement with a friend or something at your writers’ group. It’s where you agree to have a chapter finished by X date, or try to write more than someone else in a given time. The widgets on the NaNo website are great because you can track your progress against that of a friend or even a region (averaged out), but really any sort of arrangement will work. The idea is that you will write, even if it’s rubbish, because someone else is relying on you to do it. There’s nothing like a bit of social guilt to make you get stuck into it.
You will notice that I’m employing a combination of (1) and (3) this month – the promise of a manicure to reward my fingers when the draft is finished, along with the pressure to meet a NaNoWriMo-like deadline. Only time will tell if I’m disciplined enough to do it, but if I don’t try I’ll never know.
So, what works best for you when you’re not feeling motivated? How do you make yourself write? Or do you just take a break and wait for the inspiration to come back again? I’d love to hear about it.