What motivates me to write? Let's see...
So my NaNoWriMo efforts have fizzled...
But maybe it's because NaNoWriMo should happen in March, when pretty much nothing else does. The holidays are over by then. We have a long stretch between Valentine's Day and 4th of July, so most people are restless to celebrate something. And for those of us living in the northern part of the U.S., the snow and cold has made us into hermits anyways (With the exception of the crazy snowbunnies who enjoy the outdoor activities.) So what am I saying? I'm saying blame it on the time of year.
Still, I have written over 17,000 words, and to be honest, that's pretty dang good. And I still have another week before I officially "lose" in NaNoWriMo. Maybe I can pound it out like a finger-thumping fiend? (My motto, obviously: Never give up!)
What Motivates Me?
So I began to think...really think...about what motivates me to write? I hear people brag about their muses and their need to satisfy them. Or that the characters write their own stories and the author is merely a channel to allow the words to flow. And some people say, "I have to write, just as I have to breathe." That's all very lovely. But writing isn't any of those for me. So perhaps my motivation is different from other artists? You tell me.
My motivation stems from curiosity. Yes. It's true. Mere curiosity. I usually begin with a type of "What if...?" scenario in my head. For example, with my book Knucklebone, my question was: What if a young girl found human remains wash up on a beach? And what if they belonged to her mother? Well, jeez. I wanted to know what happened next! What kind of a kid was this? How well did she know her mother? How long had her mom been missing? What happened to her mom? How does this kid solve the mystery behind her mother's death?
In other words, no muse entertained my mind, the characters came from my imagination and I forced life into their soulless little bodies, and I could live a fine life not creating a book from my idea. But what motivated me was the desire to see it all come together. To find out what happened in the same manner I would if reading a book or watching a movie. I wanted it to play out and find out what happened.
Don't ask me to tell you what the book I'm working on is about.
I won't tell you much. I can't. Because as soon as I discuss the plot, the characters, the subplot, the outcome...I no longer feel the need to write it. Yes, I am probably slightly insane (all us writers can attest to feeling that way at times). But while some people love to discuss their stories to the point where there really is no need to read the book anymore, I can't do it. Which is probably why when I gave my latest proof copy of Save Me a Song to my sister, my mom said, "Wait, you wrote another book?" Oops. Did I forget to mention that? My bad.
Again, all this stems from curiosity. Once I know too much, why write the dang thing? And in case you haven't figured it out, yes, I'm a Pantster. Which means I don't plan out by books. Well, I do and I don't. I know what my message is for the reader. I also have a good idea of how things will end. I also know where the other characters fit into my story and why I need them to be there. But as for all the scenes and stages leading up to the story's climax? Total mystery to me. Which I love. But this is why I have critique partners. Because if something isn't working, you can bet they'll let me know! Tough love, my friends. Tough love.
So what is motivation aggravation?
Motivation aggravation. This, for me, is when I have plenty of ideas swimming around in my head but not enough motivation to pursue them. Writing is hard. It means sitting down at a keyboard and writing crappy scenes with one-dimensional characters that later on I will have to knit, sew, and piece into a beautiful tapestry. And when laundry beckons, my son wants to play, or a friend needs my time, writing stops being a priority.
Everyone has this issue. Moms, dads, business leaders, waitresses, grave diggers...(Hmm. Put those characters together into a story and see what happens. But do it now before you become side-tracked.) As a struggling writer, however, the problem isn't just lack of time. It's knowing that what gets written may never amount to anything but an incomplete NaNoWriMo project. When you work a regular job, you see a reward: a paycheck. When you finish household chores, you have a cleaner home. When you play with your children, you see a healthier, stronger bond. But when you write...you see the possibility of many hours wasted. The frustration of "what if no one feels inspired enough to read it?" The worry that this book might fail...it might not ever be finished, or may end up a piece of trash in the incinerator. Or worse, it might be something you fall in love with for its potential, only to discover what you see in it isn't what anyone else sees.
So motivation aggravation is about doubt, about hesitation, about lack of confidence. It's the part of us we despise for turning tail and running away when we want it to stand up and fight. Motivation aggravation is where the muse has become ill, the characters stop speaking to us, and we realize we breathe easier when we're not writing. But that is the challenge, isn't it? How to keep going...and why we want to continue. What is your true motivation? What keeps you going in whatever you are doing right now? And how will you proceed from here on?
As for me, I'm still giving NaNoWriMo a shot. And if it doesn't work out, I can always create my own version of it in March.