peadarog (peadarog) wrote,

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Getting Motivated -- a lazy leprechaun's guide to writing

I keep bumping into people -- well, not what you'd call "real people" since these are writers. They sigh. They wipe the corners of their eyes with sandpaper. "I can't stand it," they say. "I've been away from my writing for twenty minutes already. I believe I'm going to die." They mean it.

Some people claim they simply *must* write or their spirits will wither away. They are the writers who own cats.

Then, there are the work-ethic writers. Plenty of those about too, curse them. Rot them for pickles! Every day, like clockwork, 17,000 words appear, as if from nowhere. It's like brushing their teeth with them: a happy, refreshingly minty chore that churns out stories, dissertations, encyclopedias by the score...

And so, not belonging to either of these happy fraternities, it came as a great relief to see a quote from Ian Rankin on the TV the other night. I'll paraphrase here, because the whole thing was over in a flash: "I have a deadline. I avoid working and avoid it and avoid it until suddenly, I have to write the whole book in a rush..."

At last! A graduate, like me, of Lazy Scribbler High.

Those of us who studied there learned such lessons as:

1) writing is work*
2) avoiding work is fun
3) fun costs money
4) we have to write to get more money

For me, it's a bit like going to the gym, or jogging, or doing a diet: I don't like doing it, but I love the idea that I've done it. Motivation is hard for me and usually when I've been on a break from writing, it can take me several weeks to get back into it.

At this stage of my life, I've grown to understand the workings of my cowardly inner self and have come up with tricks to convince Peadar do some actual work. Basically, what it comes down to is to expect very little of myself. For example, if I plan to write 5000 words a day, the task will seem too overwhelming to me and I'll end up surfing for the day instead and feeling like crap.

Far better to start on the first day with a piddling target of 500 words -- something I could toss off in twenty minutes if I really have to. Usually, I'll end up with 2000 in a day and no pressure. A few weeks of this builds a healthy, self-sustaining habit that even the laziest of Peadars can come to enjoy.

*interesting work that beats the hell out of, say, stacking shelves
Tags: writing
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