Last week I blogged here about… well, about not knowing what to blog about. Sometimes my mind works that way.
This time, I want to talk a little about what motivates people to write. I’ve had a lot of people ask why I started writing. I’ve been writing stories since I was five years old–though obviously not romance stories!–and I began because my imagination just plain wouldn’t stop. All my life I’d been making up stories and playing “Let’s Pretend” with my imaginary friends. I’d learned to read when I was about three, and I knew I wanted my stories to be in books someday like the ones I read.
Even though I do sometimes suffer from writer’s block, or writer’s concrete wall on occasion, I don’t often run out of story ideas. That imagination of mine is always on the go. Even some of my dreams play more like movies than figments of my subconscious, and when I manage to remember them long enough, I do develop stories from them. Most of the time, having ideas isn’t the problem with my story writing, only with my blog posting.
However, actually writing and revising the stories… well, that’s something different entirely.
When I’m writing just because I want to write, or revising a story that I haven’t chosen a publisher to submit to yet, sometimes it’s hard for me to stay focused. I’m doing it just for myself, and that isn’t enough of a reason for me, even though it means I get rid of all that stuff that clutters up my brain. (Sometimes my brain is as loud with ideas as a cocktail party is with meaningless chatter.) I might sit at my computer and peck out a sentence or two, then wander off to play a game of cyber chess or answer emails. Or poke around various blogs. Even though the writing comes from inside me, I don’t seem to have enough internal motivation to keep me going, other than the “Woohoo!” that comes when I finish something.
I’ve started giving myself deadlines, but sometimes even that doesn’t work. It’s self-imposed, which means I don’t have anything to lose if I miss the deadline. Even promising myself a reward if I meet it doesn’t do any good. (I know my bank account too well. I can’t afford the rewards I promise myself.)
However, I have a major competitive streak. So what I’ve discovered works wonders for my output is a challenge. One of my publishers once gave me two weeks to revise an entire novel. I had it done in ten days. The same novel had taken me nearly a month to revise before I sent it to her, because I didn’t have a deadline for it.
Lately I’ve been working on a challenge from a writing friend of mine. I’m doing a revise/resubmit on a novel, and wanted something to keep me focused while I worked on it. At the moment, I’m two chapters ahead of where I need to be.
I love a challenge, to be honest. And as long as it isn’t illegal or dangerous, I nearly always take them.
So what motivates you to keep writing? And what do you think of challenges?