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ProAm Tips #9

Staying motivated.

I can, on a good day, churn out anywhere from between 2 and (my record) eight thousand words. This is a highly suspect figure, when you remember that a rough draft is like starting with a big stone block and trying to take away all the bits that don’t look like an elephant. Sometimes you discover your block didn’t HAVE an elephant in it. Regardless. That’s a different post. This one’s about staying motivated.

You need a focus. I find that I write best when I’m excited about my story. But excitement is a tricky thing. You want to get to the good bits, but if you’re doing your job right, ALL the bits are the good bits. It can take a lot longer than you want to walk your narrative from one scene to the next without it looking like you basically typed “bored now, on to the train set” in the middle of a chapter.

Motivate yourself. Invest in your book. Or your story. Or whatever. I write novels and short stories, and I talk like that. So, yeah. Invest in your book. Love your characters. If you’re bored writing for characters, you don’t love them. You need to find a way to make yourself fall in love with them. Every character doesn’t have to be a quirky, unique snowflake sculpture oozing personality everywhere. In fact, that can get distracting. but you DO have to care about them. I was writing a scene in an FBI office just now (literally. This is how I take a breather from banging away on the keyboard. I go bang away about something else entirely. Or play Defense Grid. Anyhooo) and discovered I didn’t really give a crap about the Special Agent in Charge. So I flipped it. I wrote it from his head, trying to figure out what HE cares about. Why’s HE in that room? His undercover agent is missing, and he desperately wants to find her, because that’s what he cares about. And he’ll do what he has to to get her back, except that he refuses to break the law, because he has two daughters at home that look up to him, and how could he look them in the eyes if he broke the law? Except that if he doesn’t their Aunt Dinah is never coming back for a visit, and…


pressure. The guy is under pressure. And he’s sweating, and he’s frantic, and suddenly, I’m in love with the scene, and I like he guy, and sympathize, and still twist the knife and now I don’t want the scene to end because I’m really having a good time, and excited about the scene and running off that the fingers with words word words words…

THAT’S how I stay motivated.

Won’t work for everyone. You need to find what drives you. But once you do, USE it. It WILL work. Stay motivated by doing what you love. Do what you love by making yourself love everything. And keep writing. It’s a process. I evolved my writing process through twenty years of hard work, and now it’s paying off.

Yours will too.

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