09 July 2010

Mrs Motivator


It's ironic that my debut post for the sparkly new 'Burrowers, Books & Balderdash' blog is all about motivation, but it's also very well suited to me, too. You see, people like me (people who dither quite happily for 99% of the time) really need lots of encouragement when it comes to sitting down and writing. It doesn't matter what you are writing for - be it a debut novel, a short story, a little poetry, or even a thesis - everyone needs a little cheerleading to get them through the project. The actual cheerleading needn't be literal (though I wouldn't say no to Viggo or Johnny waving their pom-poms in my direction *winks*), but encouragement of any kind really helps, no matter if you are an established author, or a struggling author-to-be. I thought I'd share a couple of things that usually help me get my Writing Mojo back on track, and if even one thing helps someone on the road to Getting The Damn Thing Written, then I'll be a happy Burrower.

Talk!

Yes, talk! We all get blocked at some point, and if the block is a particularly bad one, it can hold you up for days, or even, perish the thought, weeks. I've had blocks that have lasted months, and the longer they last, the harder it is to get back to it. I usually find that if you can get someone to talk to about your project, it'll loosen up those writing muscles. I find that just by talking about what you have done so far can really get your enthusiasm going again. I have my trusty Burrower friends to talk to, of course, so for me it is very easy to find someone to listen to my ramblings. But you don't need to belong to a writer's group to have the same support. All you need is your best friend, or a close family member that you trust not to laugh at your possibly insane mutterings (laughing is definitely not considered the done thing when you are trying to get motivated, after all). Often the other person will inadvertently pick up on something that has been bothering you. They may even say something that will trigger a lightbulb to appear in your head and make you suddenly realise that you have some fresh ideas after all. Talking is good.

Get Feedback!

Very, very important! You may not want to share every single word that you have written, but for the most part sharing a section here and there will work wonders for your Writing Mojo. It doesn't matter whether you get positive feedback or not, critiques work just as well as praise. If anything, you should be looking to get some negative comments every time you share, and get used to seeing the 'flaws' as stepping stones for improvement. You could be the most fabulously talented writer in the world, but there is always room to improve. A solid critique will highlight your strong points and make you feel wonderful, but it will also train you to realise that just because a few things have been picked apart, it doesn't mean you are a bad writer. The very best thing about getting feedback is that after you have received a few reviews, you should start to notice a pattern. For example, if one person picks something out and says it sounds a bit 'flat', it could be something or nothing, but if three people notice the same thing, you know that you need to work on it. Finding out your weaker points will make you want to work harder at them. You WILL improve, and when you start getting more positive comments about your problem areas, your Writing Mojo will feel like he's had the biggest chocolate bar in the world.

Read A Bad Novel!

Seriously, this really works. I think almost everyone can name a book that they think was poorly written, or had such a tedius plot that you needed matchsticks to keep your eyes open long enough to read it. Find this book (if you don't already own it), and buy it. You may think that wasting money on an awful book is a pretty stupid thing to do, but trust me, it's an investment. *nods firmly* On the days when you feel like you have no right to class yourself as a writer, grab the awful book (and those matchsticks) and force yourself to read it. Why am I advising you to do this? Simple! By reading a crappy book for a couple of hours, you should almost immediately begin to feel more confident about your own writing. If a book of such poor quality was accepted by a publisher and printed, then surely your own work will be accepted one of these fine days too. You may think that this sounds silly, but if you can recognise a bad novel, then you should be able to recognise whether your own work is up to scratch (which, of course, IT IS). And if it is up to scratch, then get off your butt and crack on with the project!


So there we have it. Just a couple of things that usually help me find a little motivation - why don't you see if any of them help YOU?

This blog post was brought to you by Tundiel, also known as Tara Smith; would-be author, procrastinator, ditherer, rambler extraordinaire, and blogging Burrower.

Note: Image courtesy of publicdomainimages.net

16 comments:

Hart Johnson said...

Great post, Tara! It's so TRUE with the bad book thing! I think reading, even good books with this or that mistake, has taught me a NUMBER of mistakes I kept making, but it DOES seem it those get published, we all should too! It's just a long road.

*looks around for where Viggo is hiding with the pom poms*

Mohamed Mughal said...

How about: "Read a GOOD novel." That seems to work for me.

Cute post. Keep writing! :)

Amy said...

Definitely! I agree wholeheartedly with "Talk" and "Read a bad novel." When I get stuck, I babble to Mr. fiance and pretend he's listening. Then I can work it out on my own and he gets to think he helped. ;) And reading a bad novel was made me start Nano-ing in the first place!

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

I agree, read the good and the poorly written in order to master the great and discover what works and what doesn't.

Boonsong said...

I'm confused - but that happens all ttoo easily. I think that just read and don't care about the quality is best for the constitution, But I could be wrong.
Thanks for a stimulating post.

Have a nice day, Boonsong

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Great advice! And I never set *out* to read a bad novel, but when I come across one, it's such a relief. :)

Tundiel said...

Hart - I'm SO glad you got the 'read a bad book' thing! And yes, I'm still waiting for Viggo to shake his pom-poms too....

Mohamed - well, yes, reading a GOOD novel is always a good idea too. :) I just like to read a really bad novel sometimes because it makes me feel so much better. *grins*

Amy - ha! I do the same with my hubby. He never really 'gets' what I am rambling about either. *snort*

Angela - Exactly. *nods* I love how you said clearly in one sentence what took me an entire rambling paragraph to explain. Well, I DID say I was a rambler....

Boonsong - a-ha! Another confused person! You're in good company. *nods* Glad the post was stimulating. *tries hard to keep mind out of the gutter and fails miserably*

Elizabeth - I don't think anybody generally sets out to read a bad novel, but I completely agree. The actual reading of it may be torture, but at least it gives a little hope to the rest of us.

Yay, comments! *dances*

Jemi Fraser said...

Reading anything keeps me motivated, but the bad stuff can really light a fire! :)

H.B.Markor said...

So that's where I've been going wrong all these years! I've always avoided bad books, or at least found something to like about everything I read. I will just have to get more critical in my reading and more talkative about what I am writing, too.

Great topic Tara!

RosieC said...

I love the read-a-bad-book idea. I frequently do that by accident (there are some people out there that I need to STOP taking book recommendations from). It's nice to know that maybe it's been helpful all these days.

Thanks!

Cold As Heaven said...

The bad-book idea was a good one; never thought about that. But if i go to the store to buy a bad book I will at least try to find one written by a cute author >:)))

Cold As Heaven

Cruella Collett said...

Excellent advice, Tara! And it amuses me greatly that we have something of a comments debate regarding good books and bad books ;)

Personally I would probably lean towards the "good" side (see what I did there? *snort*), because I often get inspired by good books while bad ones do tend to make me throw something (preferably the book). But I guess both good and bad books work, just in different ways.

Hart Johnson said...

See, Mari, I get INSPIRED by good books--something to SHOOT FOR but there are too many components going into what they are doing right to really 'do it yourself' from that. Bad books it is really easy to spot things to avoid, so easier to improve your work from! *nods*

ViolaNut said...

Now see, I'm going to take the stance that one can like a "bad" book and dislike a "good" one... as long as you know the difference. I like nearly everything, but I do recognize poor writing, shoddy editing, etc. even when I enjoy the story, and understand well-constructed tales that may not appeal to me personally. And there's a lot to learn from both. ;-) I'm definitely on board with the "talk" part, too... *ducks*

Chary Johnson said...

Great advice about reading a bad book, Tara.

sue said...

I like the poorly written book idea. Which means that instead of whinging about wasted money and kicking said book across the floor I should engage my inner Zen master and be grateful. A worthy goal, but perhaps unattainable just yet.