As I have mentioned before, in the past, discipline (lack of) has been the biggest enemy to my success as a writer. I say has been, it still is of course in the same way that alcohol is to an alcoholic who no longer drinks. March and May have both been months that have seen me struggle to meet my deadlines and I have really had to dig deep to find the willpower to continue.
So how do we find our motivation?
For the first day of her half-term holidays I took my daughter for a walk over the heath. On the way we stopped off at a stationary shop to buy her a pen and a notebook she wanted for her nature diary.
[First some background]
She takes after her mum and loves her maths, when it comes to English she really doesn’t enjoy the sheer sweat of actually writing. Lets be honest how many writers out there do? And that’s half the battle, we love the finished result, but getting there can be such a drag.
To get her interested in the past I have helped her make little hard-bound books with coloured covers. She made her first book (about autumn) when she was five, which had leaf prints and pictures etc. Her most recent is her most text heavy and she enjoyed working on it because of the prospect of a finished article that she could hold in her hand and be proud of. Otherwise it can be a real bind getting her to even put a few words down.
[So on the heath]
She/we (maybe me(in that encouraging way)) had an idea for her to keep a nature diary. She loves all things nature and I hoped it would help motivate her to write on her own. We bought the book and headed off for our walk and still in the back of y head I thought ‘is this going to work is she actually going to want to stop and sit and write something while we are out?’
Well that all depends on the day. We sat to watch Skylarks rising higher and higher on their song until they seemed to almost switch themselves off and swoop back to earth before starting the process again. They fell silent when the Kestrels moved in hovering so close they filled the binoculars and we could see every feather rustle in the breeze. She was loving it and writing it all down. The action just didn’t stop though, suddenly swooping out of the Beech woods came the Red Kite we had heard about but never seen. This was quite a moment, over twice the size of the Kestrels the hawk rode the currents over our heads. We were breathless and then, before we could catch that breath back, a murder of Crows flocked at the Red Kite, cawing angrily and mobbing it, until they forced it away from their nests. All the while she is scribbling away events happening faster than she can record them.
Motivation: it all depends on what you are writing and whether you are really interested in it. I think one of the most important for any writer to keep in mind is that they should always ALWAYS be passionate about what they write. Do not, ever, never (fans of Charlie and Lola?) try and write for the markets (or even worse what you think is the market right now). If you are writing what you think will sell, but not what you really want to write about it will be a massive up-hill struggle. I’m sorry to say it, but it will also probably be crap.
I have spent a great deal of time recently going through notes for story ideas I’ve collected over time, trying to find the ones that really motivate me, not ones that I wrote down because I thought the publisher of that vampire novel or this young adult book might like it.
March and May saw me writing short stories that I felt compelled to write, trying to fit the brief of a market I was targeting rather than writing my stories and then researching where the best place to send them might be. Consequently my motivation was suffering.