In my Justwriters group tonight I sensed a distinct lack in motivation, especially from one member, who shall remain un-named (you know who you are!). It highlighted the fact that writing isn’t all fun and inspiration, sharing and connection – there’s a whole lot of frustration and confusion, isolation and despondency involved in the writing life too. Most of these negatives can be traced back to one or two factors: letting your writing routine slip and losing sight of why we write.
One of the dangers of not writing daily, or at least regularly is that you forget how much you enjoy doing the writing practice, the buzz you get from creating something from nothing and how much better you feel when you’ve actually written something, no matter how bad that first draft is. If you’re writing a longer piece, like a novel or memoir or even a short story, by not checking in with it daily you’re losing touch with what you’re writing about and you’re not entering the dream of your writing often enough to really immerse yourself in it. And the longer you stay away from it the harder is to re-connect with the writing.
A second danger is losing sight of why you are writing. If you forget that you write because you love to write, because it helps you escape, helps you develop your creativity, helps you make sense of the world you live in, helps you connect with others, both readers and fellow writers… need I go on?
You get idea. The main motivation for your writing, if you are going to continue to enjoy it, and to actually keep doing it, should be because it gives you all these things and more. Once money or fame become your prime motivators, writing will start to lose its attraction. very few people make a living from their writing and fewer still achieve fame and fortune. That’s not to say you shouldn’t aim for that if it’s what you really want, if it’s your dream. But keep the personal writing motivation at the forefront. if you do happen to make any money out of your writing that’s a bonus. In the meantime you’re developing a new skill, discovering things about yourself and others you never knew and sharing your experiences with your writing buddies and your readers, enriching their lives in the process.
Like any art or pursuit, writing takes time, discipline, commitment and faith. You need to keep filling those pages, setting writing goals, sticking to that schedule and trusting that your writing is getting better and that it is a worthwhile way to spend your time.
When the why am I bothering to write blues hit, take ten minutes and make a list of all the reasons why you should keep writing . Post it somewhere where you can’t miss it – on the fridge or an a noticeboard above your desk, or on your bathroom mirror. Then pull out a pen and paper and write something – anything!
I’ll leave you with this thought from Julia Cameron: Creativity is inspiration coupled with initiative. It is an act of faith, and, in that phrase, the word “act” looms as large as the “faith” that it requires.