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Friday, November 20, 2009

How do you get motivated to write?

If there's one thing being a writer has confirmed, it's that I need a deadline. In college I wasn't one of those people who read a chapter or two a night and was all set to go by the time the test rolled around. No. I was the person out having fun, going to parties, and then sitting down the night before an exam to cram all that I'd missed into one night.

I remember one particular assignment my senior year of college - a final term paper for a religion class (I'm not a religious person but loved learning about different religions). I had to write a paper about the Bhagavad Gita, which is a sacred Hindu scripture and a philosophical classic. This was a final paper, something I was supposed to be working on all semester. So with a week to go before I was due to turn it in, I figured I'd start.

So I dug in. Just me, Krishna, Arjuna and their battlefield conversation that serves as a guide to life. Pretty heady stuff. And I was a senior, so I still had a fair share of partying to attend to, so the whole final paper thing was crimping my style, to say the least. Well, I ended up getting it done, I think I printed out the last page about 3 minutes before it was due.

And that's pretty much been my approach to writing. Which is why my agent just had to say to me, "I want a book by February 15." He knew that without a deadline he'd probably see another book in 2038. And that just wouldn't work.

So my motivation? Fear of not meeting deadlines. Fear of the repercussions of not meeting deadlines. Because at the end of the day I may prefer to go out and have fun vs. sit at my computer, but I hate letting people down or not meeting expectations. And I like to write. It's not the actual writing I need motivation for. It's the finishing part that requires a swift kick in the arse.

1 comment:

Jan Blazanin said...

I was just the opposite in school--the annoying kid who started working on the research paper as soon as it was assigned. Too bad it didn't carry over to my writing career. Now I can procrastinate with the pros!