Motivation? What’s that?

Oy. I should never, never again think that I have it all figured out. Every time I think that, life happens.

Even the Doctor doesn't scare me

Even the Doctor doesn’t scare me into writing

So far in February, I’ve written two days. Two. After my triumph of January, February is definitely feeling a little flat. I’m starting to get back into writing, but it’s hard. It’s always hard, mostly because I lack the motivation to get started again.

I’m not sure why I have such a hard time with this. It’s never difficult once I get into the habit of writing–at that point, I’m invested in the story enough that I have to keep going. I want to find out what happens. But when I get away from the story for a few days, all that excitement evaporates. I think of my poor characters, most likely left cornered and fighting for their lives, and go, “Meh. You guys can deal with it.” 😛

And nothing can motivate me to get back to the story. That is, until I get fed up with the fact that I’m slacking off and force myself to start writing again. A few days of reluctance, slowly pounding out words that may as well be super-glued into my brain, and suddenly, the fog lifts. My excitement for the story returns, and before I know it, I’m writing 2,000+ words in an hour-long writing session.

But still…that darn motivation. Not even the self-made promise of Sherlock season 3 could get me to sit down at the computer earlier this month. (That’s how you know it’s hopeless). So here I am again, forcing myself to sit down and start writing.

Does anyone else struggle with motivation? Got any tips on how you get yourself writing again after a long absence?


About H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

7 comments on “Motivation? What’s that?

  1. I’ve been passing on to everyone’s ear I can grab this outstanding bon mot by Howard Gardner, behavioral psychologist at Harvard U.: “Ask not whether you are motivated – ask what motivates you.”

    May I pass on to you (and to all who post and read here) an insight from biblical Hebrew? (Biblical Aramaic and Greek are much the same on this, but I’ll stick to what I know best by far.) In our modern languages, time is the framework in which action happens. In the biblical languages, action is the framework in which time happens! (A physicist here tells me this is the way physicists look at time in the real world. It is also the way cutting-edge research in personality type psychology views the human mind.) So one is always “motivated” in biblical Hebrew, even when one procrastinates or completely rests. Can we grasp that? By straightforward biblical revelation, there is no such thing as “lack of motivation”. There is only the question of what motivates us, and to what end.

    For me, what makes the biggest roadblock in writing fiction (or indeed non-fiction) is the motivation to let the rather slow, ENFP-style way of turning over logical frameworks in my mind check for logical inconsistencies, and then comparing the results to the results of my value judgments. Another is that I’m naturally motivated to gather as much information as possible before deciding at all – which can become an end in itself (procrastination, which is still motivation and not the lack thereof). Yet another is the classic ENFP bugbear of being motivated to follow too many interests at once rather than “pick one thing and stick with it” as people who have the “common sense” people like me often lack usually do. 😉

    Perhaps the question “What is actually motivating me?” will lead you to understand what’s going on as well. I think Newton’s Laws of Motion have given us a false idea (at least in vernacular understanding) of how humans relate to action through time. We fail to see that even being at rest is an action – it certainly is in Hebrew and it has a definite motivation. So did, for example, Lot’s “procrastination” in leaving Sodom.

  2. Reblogged this on Tales of the Undying Singer and commented:
    In my own Comments section, I repost a comment I made on this blog…

  3. Yeah, I’ve been having trouble with my motivation this month, too. Even though in the first week of the month I had a real breakthrough by reconfiguring my story timeline and outline. When I re-outlined, I came up with 30 new scenes to be written, and it’s just been daunting. Plus I have volunteered for way too many projects lately, and sometimes it’s easier to do those little tasks than tackle this story, which really doesn’t seem to want to be written.

    • Again, it sounds to me not like lack of motivation, but motivation to rest and consider. Some thought processes are just harder for each of us to employ than others. Be patient. Let those parts of your brain which need more time to process information, take the time required. The results will be worth it.

      And sometimes “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” and here the problem is conflict of motivation within. Motivations can conflict without too, as you (Kristen) just described. There are days when one is up to his waist in alligators (for me yesterday, it was more like fiddler crabs), leading one to forget that his initial objective was to drain the swamp. 😉

  4. I so appreciate John sharing the wisdom of the ancient languages. That is critical insight. It isn’t that we aren’t motivated, it is that we are motivated to do something else.

    So we can ask ourselves, “Why?” Sometimes I lack motivation simply because my attention has been elsewhere. There is a principle that says “garbage in, garbage out” and “you reap what you sow” and “you become what you behold”. If my attention is on something other than my writing (as sometimes it needs to be), I can easily lose my sense of motivation to write.

    But if I keep my motivation to write before my eyes, if I surround myself with the reasons that I am writing this story, then it is easier to keep my commitment to sit down and work on it. And once I sit down, I find it inevitable that I will (eventually) start writing it again. Sometimes it takes me a few hours (or a few sessions over a period of days) to get back into it, but when I’m faithful to put my attention on it, I find that it does begin to flow again.

    I think faith even plays a role in this. I cannot, cannot write during those times when I have lost faith in the story and no longer believe it needs to be written. There are far too many important things in my life to waste time on something that does not need to be done.

    So whence comes faith? For me, faith comes by remembering what God has shown me, what He has told me, how He has led me to this writing life and to this particular project. And once I am certain again that I am following His path, then I can write. And I can trust that good will come of it.

    All that being said, I don’t have a specific thing I do every time I feel unmotivated. But it always works out, and I always get back to writing again. I try not to get bogged down in self-recriminations for the lapses. I remind myself that there are other things during this season of my life that need my attention.

  5. “I think faith even plays a role in this. I cannot, cannot write during those times when I have lost faith in the story and no longer believe it needs to be written. There are far too many important things in my life to waste time on something that does not need to be done.”

    That’s about where I am. I’m also still struggling with loss of sleep over these past two months–still haven’t figured out whether better/more sleep = writing, or the other way around.

    I always have 10,000 other things needing my attention, so I feel like I drift listlessly/purposelessly from one fire needing put out to the next. (This week it was the crisis of the smelly washer and the threat of being eaten by the laundry monster, oh, and dishes are stacking up, and hey, the taxes need done, oh, and…and…and…)
    Hard not to feel sorry for yourself when it all stacks up on you. (And I’m expected to write, too?)

  6. For me motivation is a mind set based on many things. And sometimes it is that the balance gets shifted out of its orbit. If I can pray, be centered in God and push out as much of the world as possible I do much better.

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