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Midweek Motivation

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

This is something I posted on the forums at ACFW yesterday. It’s adapted from the discussion topic from my Weight Watchers meeting earlier this week.

With the ACFW conference only ten weeks away, many writers are beginning to feel anxious and experiencing writer’s block when it comes to accomplishing their writing goals by then—whether it’s what they’re going to be pitching to editors/agents, getting their submission polished for their paid critique, or just the prospect of attending their first writing conference. Since the WW topic was about motivation, and since I really need motivation in both “W” areas of my life right now (writing and weightloss), I adapted the topic from losing weight to writing.


What is the motivating factor that made you decide to pursue publication—by submitting, by pitching, by attending a conference? Was it wanting to be published? Was it wanting to get a message out to readers? Was it being so full of stories you might just burst and wanting to share those stories with others?

Whatever it is, write it down. Tape it to your computer monitor and/or the bathroom mirror. Keep that motivating factor top of mind all the time.

    I’ve been thinking about this for several days now. I’m not sure that I can pinpoint it to any one particular instance, except the fact that writing has always been such a part of my life that even when I was in college the first time and was told by my writing professors that I’d never succeed (because I write romance and not literary fiction, I now know), it didn’t stop me from writing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of being a published author. That dream, that love of story, is my motivating factor. Oh, and proving those college profs wrong is nice too.

There are three stages of working toward publication:
1. The Honeymoon—You love writing. You’ve taken some online courses and maybe attended a conference or two. The friends and family who’ve read your stories love them and tell you you’re a better writer than everyone on the bestsellers’ list.

2. The Thrill Is Gone—You don’t final in the first contest you enter—nor the second nor third. You join a critique group and discover that you don’t know as much about the craft of writing as you thought. You learn that your beloved story has all kinds of plot holes and that you have a tendency to use “as” and “so” too much. You have a file full of form rejection letters/cards from every publishing house and agent in the market. You have massive writer’s block and would rather vegetate in front of the TV than write. You wonder why you decided to do this in the first place.

3. Renewed Resolve—You go back to the beginning, back to the Honeymoon stage. You remember your motivating factor. You ask for accountability with making sure you write every day. You realize that it takes planning and discipline to be a writer. You also remember that God gave you this talent and that you’re following His calling on your life. You keep submitting, keep studying, keep learning, keep writing, because you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

The things in our lives that throw us into stage 2 are stress, tragedy, boredom, fatigue, emotions, and falling into old patterns. Being aware of these triggers doesn’t make them go away, but helps us manage those times. That’s when we need to consciously work to move ourselves into stage 3—by asking for help, by reviewing our crit partners’ feedback along with the comments on contest entries, by looking back at where we were when we started, by shaking things up a little bit and maybe trying something new or different as a kick-start.

    I’m definitely in stage 2 right now, but I’m trying to move to stage 3. The discipline is what’s lacking at the moment. But I’m determined to get there this week. Because I have to submit something to my critique partners on Saturday, and I’ll be darned if I don’t have at least a chapter or two for them to critique!

To be successful . . .
Do what successful athletes do: visualize yourself as a success. What publishing house will you be published by? How many copies of your book will sell? Where are you going to do book signings? How many more books will you write? How will being published affect your daily life? How will your stories impact the lives of readers? What kind of feedback will you get from readers?

What will success feel like for you? Will you be more confident? more self-assured? more assertive?

Start practicing those things now—practice being more confident and self-assured. Be more assertive. NOW. (For ideas on how to practice these behaviors, check out the two series on Networking on the Writing Series Index page.)

And most of all, you must persevere and not let one negative critique or contest score affect your relationship with your story or your feelings about yourself as a writer. Or, if you’re like me, you must persevere and ignore the fear that comes from actually achieving a measure of success. Again, I’m struggling to do this and plan to conquer it this week as best I can. Then I’ll start next week and conquer it again. And the next week . . .

Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, per Jess’s request, I’ve added a new widget to my right-sidebar containing the counter for MFR. I’m going back and concentrating on revising and shoring up the 41,000 words that show on the counter currently, but hopefully once that’s done, you’ll start to see that counter moving every single day!

  1. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 9:36 am

    Great idea to post the counter, Kaye. I’ll be watching it. Hopefully we’ll see steady progress soon. When is the deadline for it again?

    Thanks for the BOOST post. I needed it. Hubby keeps telling me Good is better than Perfect, when I complain that I only got through the first chapter once again. I really need to push onward and get through this whole story. Guess I’m in good company. We all have our writing trials, it would seem.


  2. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 9:38 am

    I never thought about how much WW principals apply to our everyday life. And that reminds me I need to get back to WW.


  3. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 10:15 am

    W and W. My two biggest challenges.

    I just dig and know each day that’s it’s another day, another day to try my best and get it right. Thank God for that. And if I mess up, I pray I get another day.


  4. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 11:33 am

    I agree with PatriciaW above. There’s no sense beating yourself up because you ate that piece of cake, or didn’t write those thousand words. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and tomorrow try to stick to the plan.


  5. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 11:47 am

    It’s funny, I started writing one day in college cause I was bored. I quickly realized I loved it and started taking classes on creative writing – and that whole time I had one goal in mind: Publication.

    That’s why I wrote — to share my stories. I want to entertain, make people cry, keep people turning page after page and I guess to me that’s always been my goal is to delight my readers which meant to get readers I needed to be published. From the day I wrote my first novel that’s what I wanted.

    I agree with your three stages I think they’re very accurate in what many writers go through.


  6. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 12:22 pm

    That’s an oddly applicable analysis of the cycle. Granted, I’ve never been to anything remotely like WW (lest I whither to nothingness) so I wouldn’t have thought about how it could transfer to other aspects of life, but that one worked really well.

    I hate stage 2.


  7. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 12:57 pm

    @Caleb: You may hate stage 2, but guess what . . .


    Hmmm . . . what can I send you as a prize . . . ?


  8. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 1:57 pm

    Three bonus credits in the drawing! More chances to get your book for free? Sounds fair to me!


  9. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 7:05 pm

    THE TWO W’S.


  10. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 7:06 pm

    The two W’s (and apparently it takes two posts to say that) are my biggest challenges right now, too! Thanks for this Kaye!


  11. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 8:17 pm

    I read this on the forum and was encouraged. Weight loss or writing, it’s about getting up and doing it all over again the next day.


  12. marybeth i. permalink
    Wednesday, July 9, 2008 8:24 pm

    I would love to write someday but really do not have the time right now. Our lives are so hectic. I think your story is one we all share no matter what we do. When you first start doing something, regardless of the level of talent we have, there is a learning process. Even someone with unlimited potential has to start somewhere. Your experiences demonstrate thatif you are really passionate about something, do not give up! The story you shared is very inspirational but very real.


  13. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 9:36 pm

    I love your counter!! I can’t wait until I am done with my stupid editing and ready to work on actual writing again. Not that editing isn’t writing, I need to stop complaining and just do it:-)


  14. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 10:09 pm

    I’ll look forward to more posts on motivation as I need help with the same two things you mentioned–writing and weight-watching.


  15. Friday, July 11, 2008 6:51 pm

    Maybe if we hooked the treadmill to the computer? Nah~~


  16. Nicole (ikkinlala) permalink
    Sunday, July 13, 2008 12:37 pm

    I’m neither watching my weight nor writing right now, but it seems like those stages could apply to just about anything.


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