I have a writer crush.
Let me clarify. I’m not lusting after an in-the-flesh person. I’m too tired and overworked for that. Plus, I love my husband. He’s patient, kind, and tough when he needs to be. Which is often, given that he’s married to me.
Recently, though, I discovered the post “How to Motivate Yourself as a Writer” by Chuck Wendig, which sent me spinning headlong into a writer crush. So what’s a writer crush? For me, it’s the feeling I get when I read a novel, an essay, a short story, a memoir that captures my most intimate, inexpressible emotion or concern so perfectly that I want to lean over and kiss the page (or the screen, as is more often the case these days).
In the post that got my heart thumping, Chuck Wendig nailed how hard it can be for writers to motivate themselves to write. He talks about the difficulties of devoting so much time and effort to a craft motivated by inner drive rather than outside encouragement. No one’s going to pat you on the head for writing every day and say, “Brilliant work! Now get back to it!” It could take years to get something published and even when you do, whatever you’ve published likely will be a mere blip on the radar screen of life.
And let’s face it, we all want–even crave–outside affirmation. And in this Facebook/Twitter/Instagram era, instant gratification is there for the taking. It’s what makes social media sluts out of many of us (by which I mean me). It’s what allows us to spend hours “researching” (a/k/a trolling the internet) instead of writing, or to take just a minute (or two or twenty or thirty) to check how many likes/comments/snits we’ve fomented with our posts and tweets.
But to sit alone with our computers and create characters and conflicts and deaths and accidents and births that are causally connected and yet feel surprising and fresh and real–that’s exhausting. And daunting. And totally necessary. Which is why we writers often need a plan to motivate ourselves.
So here are the bullet points of Wendig’s plan for how writers can motivate themselves. I give them to you as a tease. For the details, go to Wendig’s post. It’s a must-read. In fact, I’ve been reading it once a week since I discovered it. His plan goes as follows:
That last one deserves repeating, with all kinds of emphasis: FUCK IT, STOP LOOKING FOR MOTIVATION.
And why is that? Says Chuck Wendig:
Writing is fucking hard, sometimes. Writing is dentistry on monsters. Writing is trying to castrate a galloping horse with a slingshot. Writing is letting a bull loose in an orphanage.
Our natural inclination is to avoid doing the hard things. So all that time writers spend searching for motivation–let’s call it what it really is: avoidance, a/k/a procrastination at the highest, loftiest level.
And if, like me, you spend hours searching for motivation, a/k/a procrastinating, you’re never going to write. Need to hear that again? (I know I do.) You will never write if you procrastinate. Never, as in, it’s not going to happen, you’re not going to finish anything, ever.
Searching for motivation is like waiting for the muse to hit. A bunch of hooey. A time suck.
Writing is a job you have to show up for every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you know with every inch of your browbeaten being that what you produce that day is going to be absolute shit. Even when you know that you have no ideas and no direction and not nearly enough talent to say something brilliant and profound that will touch millions AND sell millions. Even when you just have something small and private and quiet to say.
To quote Chuck Wendig again – because the post is that fucking good:
Write when it’s hard.
Write when it’s easy.
Write when life doesn’t want you to.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when everyone tells you not to.
Write, write, write.
Do it. Schedule it. Make it part of your calendar of events, like a doctor’s appointment or a client meeting. Even if you only write for an hour. For fifteen minutes. Whatever. Write. Write. Write.
You won’t regret it.
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