Thursday, August 25, 2011

Motivating the Muse

I thought I would try to do a fun post where I conduct an interview with one of the characters from my story, kind of like on a talk show or something, but it turned into an epic failure. One flat our refused, one didn't bother showing up, and then I got in an argument with my last resort (I honestly had no idea how upset he was about the whole love triangle thing). Unfortunately, that doesn't leave me with many other characters, so I might have to try that another day, or use a character from another story sometime. I suppose this is what I get for being so mean to them all the time. Give them a chance to talk to me out of the story and they let me have it.

So instead, I am going to talk about motivation. More specifically, my motivation. Every year I resolve to write more than just during National Novel Writing Month, but my muse is fickle. What it is about this past year that has kept me writing when in previous years my resolutions ended in epic failure?

The answer is this: meetings, deadlines, and tracking.

krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Meetings - The Writing Buddy and I have been steadfast in our meeting schedule. We've been meeting at least once a week almost without fail since December, and while not all of those meetings were wildly productive, it kept us both in touch with our current project and constantly thinking about the next project. Some of this I think is accountability, but it is also actually scheduling time to write - setting aside that time in my week so I have no excuse not to do it.

Rawich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Deadlines/To Do lists - I've found the more specific the better with this, however they also have to be realistic and give me a bit of leeway. I set the goal to have my fanfic and my Sally Prescott adventure done by the end of the summer - they both got done. I set the goal to have my Rift story transcribed before I started the next story - it got done in record time. I've set the goal to write at least two blog entries a week, and so far I have. None of my past "write for at least an hour every day this entire year" or "type up every story you've ever written by hand as soon as possible" or even "you have to write a blog on Tuesday and Thursday by 5pm every day." I've discovered ways to set deadlines so that they work for me instead of against me.

krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Wordcount bars/charts - I've had a chance during Camp Nanowrimo this month to analyze what makes Nanowrimo so effective for me. A lot of it has to do with the community: fellow writers who are fighting the same battles at roughly the same pace. That's why I am Municipal Liaison for my region - to help unify that community and offer support and encouragement. But I've discovered another part that keeps me motivated: I am obsessed with tracking. I track the books I read, the exercise I do, the food I eat, the money I spend, so when Nanowrimo rolls around and I can input the number of words I've written and see it come out in a neat little chart or graph, I am immediately hooked. I want to spend the month of September finishing the novel I started this month, so on my "Current Writing Projects" page I've implemented a word count bar, and I spent (probably too much of) yesterday morning creating a bar graph in Excel that has a trend line for each day's wordcount. It's not pretty, but it's functional and I'm excited to use it.

I am confident that in the years to come I will be able to use these strategies to get the words written. If I can keep up, or even increase, the amount of writing I did this year, I should be able to complete several novels over the next few years.

Now if I could just find some motivators for the editing aspect, I might actually end up with a novel I can query with someday. Advice?

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