Finding the Motivation

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Sometimes motivation finds you.

But usually not.

If you’re a writer, then I guarantee you’ve said this before.

“I just can’t find the motivation to write today.”

First off, I disagree with notion that writer’s block doesn’t exist. It does. Because writing is not a typical career as it requires a level of creativity and a mind for focus, writer’s block is simply the inability to get that flow going for a period of time.

“Well if you’re a doctor, you don’t have doctor’s block.”

Correct, because being a doctor is not the same as being a writer. It requires a different level of intelligence and thinking.

However, I don’t believe all writer’s block is real writer’s block. There’s a difference between “unable” and “not having motivation to”. Both are common struggles but there are cures for them.

First, let’s define writer’s block; it’s kind of like when someone asks you to name a song you like just off the top of your head and suddenly, you can’t remember any song to ever exist. That’s kind of what writer’s block is. You sit down at the keyboard, you do the work, but you just can’t get the creative flow going. Your mind locks up and the page remains blank.

Lack of motivation is different. This is where you just don’t “feel” like you have it in you today. Maybe you had a stressful week or a sleepless night or what have you. Point is, you begrudgingly glare at the computer and make a billion and ten excuses why you can’t write today.

Hey, it happens. Question is, how do you find motivation once you lose it.

Ultimately you know yourself the best. It helps to figure out where the block is coming from. Are you losing motivation due to stress? Maybe you’re tired. Maybe it’s self doubt. Whatever it is, once you figure out the source you’re more likely to get over it. However, if you can’t trace it, then here’s some tips that might help you get your mojo back.

Read A Book: This might give you inspiration and where inspiration is motivation generally follows

Physical Activity: Sometimes we get a little low and a light jog can help. Especially if you can do it outdoors. Plus, it might give you a sense of accomplishment which will build confidence- confidence is also a key component for motivation

Eat a Healthy Snack: Again, this might help you feel better. Being hungry can affect your moods, so something light might give you a bit of energy to get some writing done.

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Music: Have some favorites? Use them to sort of give you a “pick me up”.

Take A Nap: If you’re tired, don’t try to work your way through it. Go ahead and rest a bit, by else, you’ll spend the entire time muddling through and getting frustrated when you can’t concentrate.

Go Back Through Your Old Writing: This can help you see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve improved, once again building confidence.

Remind Yourself Of Your Goals: Get excited again. Remind yourself of what you want and make sure you’ve got a deadline. Sometimes having a accountability partner helps.

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Don’t wait for motivation to find you, it rarely does. Most people have to dig deep to get it. Motivation usually comes through necessity but since most of us aren’t career writers yet, writing is more like a dream and not something we have to do, thus we don’t feel compelled to keep at it.

Fret not. You’ve got in you, but you have to pull it out. If all else fails the best thing for you to do is to keep writing. Write something. Anything. Even if it’s a bad poem or one line of a story, just write. It will prove to yourself that you’re serious and that you’re not quitting. And that’s the important thing. To make sure you don’t give up.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them

Walt Disney

I Know Them By Heart

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One of the best pieces of advice I got when it comes to writing came courtesy of the internet when I first started working on my manuscript (See. My Book located on the home page). In this pieces of advice, they explained the two most important questions to ask when working on a novel.

A) what does my main character want?

B) How do I stop them from getting it?

Now this is makes sense. The plot of the story should be set up to fit the characters involved. It would be no fun if the Incredible Hulk was never put in a situation that made him angry- who would care then?

With that said, as it’s important to know what your character wants, you first have to know who your character is.

You’d be surprised at how helpful writing a (short) biography for your characters can be. Even if you don’t include half the information in the story, trust me, it somehow bleeds through in your protagonist’s character. Questionnaires are also good to utilize, especial if you don’t know how to prioritize information and don’t feel like writing an entire biography. These typically have a few brief questions which collectively can help you understand your character better.

The most important things to know about your MC is this:

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 Appearance: Have a clear image of what it is your character looks like. I know this might not seem like a big deal, but if you want people to fall in love with them, they have to know them. Appearance can also be an important factory in your character abilities. For instance, if you have a character who is 5’4”, he’s going to struggle in areas that a character whose 6’2” wouldn’t. I speak of this from the point of view of someone who longs to be able to reach those higher shelves at the library without the aid of a stool.

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Abilities and Strength: What your MC can do is very, very important to know as the creator. I’m not just talking about talents such as playing guitar or shooting a bow. What are their mental strengths? Are they good at problem solving? Are they more creative or factual? What abilities do they have emotionally? Can they empathize with others easily? Are they able to make people laugh? Are they good at communication? These are all important things to know when your developing a character.

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Weaknesses and Limitations: Again, very important. Maybe one of the most important. Your characters need flaws (real flaws, not just our typical ‘I’m a perfectionist’ spew we give to potential employers at a job interview). They don’t have to be huge, annoying things but they need some sort of limitation. Maybe it’s their fear of the dark or maybe they talk too much. Regardless, every good story has a character with a weakness which they overcome or temporarily work with to achieve their goal. NOTE: it is important the character’s weakness makes sense and goes along with their personality or experiences.

Knowing everything there is to know about your characters is the only way your readers will truly fall in love with them. If your MC is weak, then even if you have a brilliant plot, most people won’t feel very connected and thus the story is usually a fail.

It may seem tedious at first, but over time, once you start really developing the character, you’ll start to enjoy it. It’s like dating somebody. The more you get to know them, the more relaxed you feel and the more fun you have.

And isn’t that whole point really? We’re not just writers penning words in hopes of lucrative success (if you are, prepare to be disappointed), we’re creators endeavoring to forge emotion and experiences. Take some time to get to know and enjoy what you make. Fall in love with what you do. You’ll write a lot better. Trust me.

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What was the point of having a situation worthy of fiction if the protagonist didn’t behave as he would have done in a book

 Julian Barne