Late-Week Motivation



Being a great writer isn’t easy.  Nobody, except our ten-year-old selves, ever said it was.

Improving our writing is something a lot of us work on all the time, and it’s something that I think comes in two parts.  Two parts that I’ve written about before, and will write about again.  Two parts called study and practice, thought and application, reading and writing.  The two sides of a two-sided coin (as opposed to those three-sided coins, you know?).

The Tails side of the coin is important.  It’s about learning all of the things that would have taken several years to figure out on our own, plus all of the things we might never have figured out at all.  It’s insight and tips about the parts of writing we can imagine (plotting, characterization, prose, themes, techniques), as well as the parts we never even knew existed.  A few of those tips have even made their way onto this blog.  Reading books on writing like The Fire in Fiction and The First Five Pages, reading regular books, for fun or with a fine eye, and being on WordPress all fall on the Tails side of the coin.

But the Heads side needs time too.  Today is Thursday, it’s been a long week, and it’s almost the weekend.  It’s as good a time as any to close out Chrome or Firefox (or Safari or Internet Explorer for you less browser adept people out there) and sit at a desk or table.  Maybe make a cup of coffee and turn on a little music.  As good a time as any to do some serious work.  To write 1,000 words.  Not just any thousand, though.  Write a thousand words that you’ve really worked at.  Keep in mind three or four things you’ve learned about writing in the past couple of weeks and try to use them.  Don’t be clunky or force it, but don’t be mindless either.  Write until you’re finished, then sit back and feel accomplished.  Going into the weekend with that feeling will make the whole week a success. 

Because at some point we all have to stop searching for inspiration and realize that if we put in the work, we’ll get to where we want to go.  This is something that’s hard to remember when one success is the accumulation of a thousand days of effort.  It’s even harder when you’re right in the middle of your journey and stuck at day 500.  But if day 501 doesn’t happen, day 1,000 will never come. 

Happy writing.

16 comments on “Late-Week Motivation”

  1. It is difficult sometimes to stop searching for inspiration and to just force yourself to sit down and really write. If we get stuck, we like to search for something that will inspire us, yet we get caught up in searching that sometimes we don’t even know what we are looking for. I’ve found this in myself. And it is important to have inspiration and sometimes you need to search for it, but we all need that happy medium too. For the first time in my life, I’ve written every single day, whether it be 500 words or 2500 words. But it is so important to just sit down, without distractions and work through what we are trying to say. Even if what we write doesn’t end up being used or really that good at all.

  2. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I always remember that these people we idolize, published authors who write substantial amounts of words every day, do they ever wake up and feel like eating pizza, getting drunk or just taking a walk and not writing anything? Of course.
    Every human being who chooses an artistic endeavor for their livelihood goes through waves of inspiration and deflation, and learns to move beyond those feelings. It’s only those who don’t take the work seriously, who dive into writing only when it perfectly suits their comfort zone, who romanticize writing as a glorious, constantly rewarding exercise. Those people do not understand that writing can be a hobby, but it can also be a skill, and it must be a skill if they intend to truly involve themselves in it.
    Writing is work for me, and I do my job every day. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I really hate it, but it is always work. Good article.

  3. Thanks, David, for another great post. Good, good, good, inspiration (did you hear a Beach Boys melody playing in the background there?).
    I so agree with Time Is No Enemy above and with your post. I am at a struggling point — the 500 words of your post — and yet I keep working, knowing it will all resolve into a book I’ll be proud of eventually. Pen to paper; cursor to pixels; however you get the words down, just do it. And relax, because that’s the key to getting good, good, good prose.

    1. Exactly, just do it. Because in the end it will turn out to be something. Whether the 500 words eventually add up to a novel or you come across an idea in those 500 words that become something bigger. We can’t get anywhere if we don’t at least try!

  4. Starting my blog was the first step back into regular writing, and to be honest I’m not that “regular”. The next step is NaNoWriMo … I’m giving a lot of thought to a fluffy bit of nonsense I’m wanting to write, and rather looking forward to focusing on just hammering out the first draft, in company with a whole lot of other writers.

  5. So true! Sometimes I find it so easy to read other people’s work and think: wow, I could never write like that. Or after reading my first draft I feel like a bad writer. But it’s important to keep in mind how much hard work and “bad writing” it takes to make a good piece that people can appreciate. Thanks for the motivation 😉

  6. I wrote a post in the garage while Hubby fixed my truck (no, I’m not “country”…I just like my truck), and he said several times, “if you’re bored, you don’t have to stay out here.” When I explained that I was still re-writing, he was surprised. Although he’d been reading my posts, he had no idea how long it can take to draft (and re-draft, and re-draft…) a piece (and I’m no expert). Thanks for your motivation to find the time!

  7. Absolutely. Writing is 25% inspiration and 75% perspiration. Inspiration is the easy bit. But without the hard work and raw effort, you have nothing to show for it.

  8. Well said! I find that even creativity requires habit, and inspiration doesn’t come without pushing yourself to just sit and write. It is hard, but if you are able to sit and just start typing, something will come to you eventually.

  9. Often inspiration rises out of the page. You can start without a single idea in your head, and 10 sentences in you get a blow on the head from a word or a phrase that will spark the avalanche. Then you edit out sentences 1 to 9 and off you go! At other times it is something you see from the top of a bus, or a fabric you touch, or a scent borne to you by the breeze. The big must is, when it happens, write it down!

    With respect, I don’t believe you can turn writing into a science – it is a huge self-indulgence, an unforgivable vanity, and above all, it is art. Rules are meant to be broken, something which is undeniably attractive to see happening.

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