Call it what you will, incentives are what get people to work harder - Nikita Krushchev.
For some, for the lucky ones, I presume, motivation comes easily. I have a story to tell; I’m going to tell it. But as I've written before sometimes it's not enough.
Sometimes as a writer I need a bit of extrinsic motivation as opposed to simply intrinsic. In fact, I often need a whole lot of extrinsic motivation. I know that I'm not alone. Like any other endeavour, we make deals with ourselves. If I do my homework I'll let myself play the computer game or watch my favourite television show. If I go to the gym I'll let myself have the Blizzard - or, in my case, the glass of wine (I'll take red wine over ice cream any day of the week, assuming, of course, I actually agree to limit myself to either one or the other, regardless of how many sets and reps I've done).
Shouldn't being able to write a novel - and I've done it twice - be reward enough? But sometimes it isn't and I wonder if I'm alone on that front.
The simple fact is that writers, particularly the non-blockbuster selling variety - are not exclusively making their living at the art form. It used to be that at the end of the day, by the time the work day was over, a (sadly) little time was spent with my daughter, dinner, bath, stories and bedtime are taken care of, I'm done. Getting in front of the computer and getting the writing done (and this column is already a day late of my usual publication date, given the day job being a ‘fourteen-hour day job’ this week, I hasten to add). And the older I get (let's just say 'beyond forty') the harder it is for me to consider getting up in the morning to be creative.
And not that financial gain should ever be the motivation for the creative process, but earning a living from the writing is significantly enough out of reach that it doesn’t really count as a motivational factor.
And it isn’t as though I don’t enjoy the writing when I can get myself into the headspace to really get some creative flow going. But I am certainly finding that right now I need more than a warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment that follows a successful writing session.
Thus, for me, I’ve offered myself a reward. When I get the draft ready to go I’m buying myself a new laptop – something I did as a celebration when Deadly Lessons was completed – in fact we bought new desktop and laptop computers in celebration, pretty much assuring the likelihood of any publishing profit was nullified. I didn’t buy myself a significant celebratory treat after Last Dance so I’ve convinced myself even more than I’m deserving of one.
What motivates you to keep going when the creative juices aren’t flowing as rapidly as you’d like?
Next week: Am I important enough to need a publicist?