The MTV Books Blog will close on October 31. Follow us to our new home at YA Outside the Lines on November 1!

Monday, November 30, 2009

How do you stay motivated to write?

What a good question for me to ponder right now since I've been feeling so unmotivated lately... though I don't know if it's actually lack of motivation or lack of focus, but lets tackle the motivation thing first.

I have to say a lot of the same things motivate me as my fellow MTV Books authors. Like Jenny, I work best under pressure and deadlines are great motivation for me. One of the reasons I love revisions is because I know it's a solid, set-in-stone deadline and I can map out my time around it. Like Danielle, creating mini-goals such as finish this chapter or this section by this date really helps me and I try to set word counts, but those don't actually work as well for me.

Like Jan, I have a great local writing group as well as a couple of writer pals who I email regularly and using them to talk myself through a hard place often works for me.

Other writers inspire me in a huge way. I do enjoy seeing them speak like Danielle, but reading their books is one of the biggest motivators of all. Case in point, Thanksgiving night, I started Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. I'd just finished a book that I didn't find very satisfying and I knew Wintergirls would be incredible because Speak is one of my all-time favorite books. I was exhausted. I'd worked like crazy at the bar the night before (Black Wednesday, the biggest bar night of the year), barely slept and did the whole family thing all day. I really planned to read for maybe half an hour tops and then go to bed by midnight.

I stayed up until almost three am because once I started I *had* to finish. Wintergirls hurt to read. I was crying through a lot of it, not just the end. Like with Speak, even though I hadn't been through the precise experience of the main character, it touched on some of the stuff I went through as a teen and that feeling of recognition, of someone understands, someone put this in a book, still meant so much to me even though I've mostly healed from those experiences.

When I finished I thought, this is why I write. I want to be this good. I want my books to be read this widely. I want to touch people the way this author touches people. My characters are very real like these characters and I need to keep putting them out there. People might need them, the way I needed Laurie Halse Anderson's characters.

Ultimately, like Jan, my biggest motivator is my characters or the voices I start to hear about a story that needs telling. They tug at me. At times I have to step away from the computer and (im)patiently wait for them to explain their stories to me while I do other things. But they are the reason I write. Or rather, the real people that I know their story will mean something to or help in some way, are the reason I write and stay motivated to do so. Every email that I get from fans about how my books impacted them is saved in a special email folder so I can go back and look at those when I'm feeling shaky. And when I reply to those or to comments on my Facebook fan page or Twitter or Myspace and say how getting that message has inspired me, I'm not lying. Often times that is the push I need to get offline and get back to my writing.

But as I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, right now I have the motivation. I have some incredible characters who I think can really touch some lives and open some minds, but I am so unfocused! I procrastinate, I while away hours on the internet, I organize and reorganize and I honestly don't know what to do about it.

I've set a little deadline for myself and I think to keep it I am going to be staying away from the internet as much as possible. So my blogs will be a lot less frequent this month and my replies to things will be slow. I might not even be around on Twitter as much as I usually am and I definitely won't be on Facebook as much (that thing is my biggest time suck!). So I'm sorry and I'll miss you, but I'm trying to STAY MOTIVATED!!!!


Jenny O'Connell said...

I so agree!! There is nothing more motivating than reading a book that's just awesome - it makes me write to write. When I'm feeling really, really lazy I go back and read books I love, love, love, it always gets me pumped again.

Danielle Joseph said...

I also totally agree that other writers inspire me. I read White Oleander before I began writing Shrinking Violet. The book motivated me to write because it was so rich, so powerful.