Thursday, July 24, 2014

Motivation Must-Haves

While perusing the Twitter-sphere and chatting with my own writing buddies this week, I've noticed a pattern of many people talking about motivation: either they had it, they had a lack of it, or they were talking about where it came from.

One of these people was Sarah Dessen, author of somewhere around eleven books (a few of which I've read and am a big fan of). However, while cleaning she found thirteen abandoned manuscripts. That means thirteen books she'd written and never published, for one reason or another (click here to view the tweet). Some of these were written after she'd been published.

In the quest for motivation, you might be asking: why does this matter, Rae? How do failed manuscripts from an actual published and best-selling author keep you motivated, Rae?

Good questions, ya'll.

Rae's Motivation Must-Haves

1. Inspiration

My inspiration comes from a variety of places: music, movies, college classes, and practically every other aspect of every day life. There's one thing in particular, though, that originally inspired me to begin writing, and it's something that continues to inspire every time I pick up a new book.

If they can do it, why can't I? ("They" meaning the authors)

See, I'm a privately competitive person. Externally, I'm chill. Internally, if I feel like someone's one-upped me in some way then I have to figure out how to best them, or at least prove that I can do it, too. It's not for anyone but myself. So when I see books lining the shelves at my local bookstores, and read a book that leaves me speechless, then I'm twice as motivated as I was before to sit down at my laptop and crank out a few thousand words.

Just to prove that I can.

Back to Sarah Dessen: her posts and pictures about thirteen unpublished manuscripts, many of them written in the middle of her bestselling career, proves how human she is. And how human other authors are, because is Sarah Dessen has unpublished manuscripts then oyu can bet that many, many, many other well-known authors do, too. It brought her down to my level, so some of the pressure of the career that I hope for myself is lifted. Say I sell one book, or two, or three, but what happens if and when I write something that doesn't work out?

It's not the end of the world.

Therefore, Sarah Dessen is inspiring (and that's how she fits in), and inspiration equals motivation.

2. A Support Group

This. Is. Key.

Ask any writer, and they'll tell you that they had an amazing support group, most likely made up of other writers, which then became critique partners. These are the people you bounce ideas off of and who will rip your manuscript to shreds if need be, all while waving pom-poms and bragging to their friends about you. When the chips are down, they'll also (hopefully) push you. They'll tell you to finish your manuscript, remind you why you loved it to begin with, and ultimately they will never lose faith in you or your abilities.

And if somebody else believes in you that much, you're bound to perk up a little bit and say, "You know what? I got this."

On a personal level, this also brings out my competitive side again. My support group/critique partners are two girls whose writing I admire more than almost anyone. It's what drew me to want to get to know them to begin with (and then their personalities did the rest and I latched on like the little leech I am). Because I admire their writing so much, I respect them. Because I respect them, I basically shove my writing at them with a red pen and go "READ IT AND MAKE IT BLEED," because I know that they won't steer me wrong.

At the same time, their writing makes me insanely jealous. Of them. And, once again, I feel the need to prove to myself that I'm just as good (hasn't happened yet, but one day?).

Behind every great writer is somebody who pushed them, cheered them on, and gave them the truth when they absolutely need it. Just like if you're running a marathon, if you've got somebody cheering you on then it's extremely doubtful that you'll give up.

3. A Working Environment

This means that you need to have a place that provides a good writing vibe, and not just any writing vibe. It needs to work with your writing vibe. It's wherever you feel good ju-ju (I've always wanted to use that term). What you need to remember is that nobody's writing vibe is the same, which means that many writers' working environments are totally different. Don't copy others; copy yourself.

For an example, let me describe my writing environment. Recently I've discovered that if I slouch really far down on my couch (with my legs propped up and my laptop in my lap), then I'm really comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that it's difficult to get up. Then I turn the television on (movie or television show, preferably something I've seen before so I can tune it out and keep the background noise), and I pull up iTunes on my laptop so I can blast something good, either a band I've been obsessed with or a playlist (but always something that works with the tone and vibe of my current WIP; recently, it's been Rise Against). If it's bright outside, I close the blinds and thrust myself into darkness.

I get weird looks from my roommate when she walks through the front door, but hey. It's my vibe; not hers.

Then again, I have some friends who need total silence; no background noise. Some prefer working outside. Others need to be in  a crowded environment, like the stereotypical cafe (done it; it rocks). Like I said, the most important thing is to figure out what works best for you.

At the same time (here's where I become a hypocrite): it's a valuable asset to train yourself to be able to convert any place into your working environment. You never know when inspiration will strike, or when you'll have a spare moment, or when you're stranded in the middle of an airport. Carry headphones; train yourself to block everything out if you're easily distracted.

The next time you're back in your working environment, you'll probably just appreciate it that much more.

4. Amenities

This section's just a free-for-all. Like food and drink. My foods include almonds and yogurts (lately, at least), and my drinks include diet soda, coffee, water, and hot teas. Many writers also enjoy chocolate and other sweets, but remember to tell your friends not to feed the bear when they're writing.

I also like to include working out in this section. I run/job almost every day, and there's nothing quite like jumping on the treadmill (or actually taking a job down the street) to get those creative juices flowing.

Write notes to yourself that remind you how awesome you are. Read over everything you have in your WIP to pump yourself up and get excited to keep going. Look forward to all of those edits you get to do that will make it even better (please tell me that I'm not the only one who gets excited over editing. I can't be alone in this, right?).


Alright, so this is my list of Motivation Must-Haves (well, the first three, mostly). These are the trends I've seen repeat themselves, but these are by no means the formula for success. Every writing process is different (which means the formula for success really doesn't exist at all).

My question for ya'll: what are your Motivation Must-Haves? This is something that intrigues me to no end, so feel free to share!

Tweet It:

Blogger/Writer @Rae_Slater talks motivation, inspiration, and her must-haves for getting things done (Click to Tweet)

How @sarahdessen fits into this blogger's Motivation Must-Haves, and other tips for actually writing via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)


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