Flashback: Motivation

Written by: Lorraine Heath
Date: 08/02/2001

Article

You have a dream: to write a romance novel.

You think about it constantly: while you are at work; while you run the children to and from their various activities; while you watch television with your husband; while you prepare meals; while you tuck children into bed.

The dream hovers around you, seemingly beyond reach. You want to touch the dream. Countless times you’ve started to write; countless times you’ve stopped.

Why is it that some writers finish a story . . . and others only dream of finishing a story?

A key factor is motivation. You have to want the dream badly enough to reach for it, to reach for it against all odds. And once you begin reaching, you have to maintain the motivation. Otherwise, you will never finish the book. Motivation is like a shadow without substance. You can’t grab onto it and put it in your hip pocket or set it on top of your computer to keep you going. When you are staring at a blank screen, it is easy to stop writing. So what can you do to KEEP writing?

TAKE A HARD LOOK AT YOUR REASONS FOR NOT WRITING. Are you afraid of failure . . . or afraid of success? For twenty years I dreamed of writing a novel. I even voiced my dream aloud on occasion. But I never sat down to write. I only dreamed about sitting down to write. I feared failure. As long as I dreamed of writing, I always held on to the possibility that I might one day be a writer. But if I tried to write a novel and discovered that I had neither the skill nor the talent, I would lose the dream. I preferred to have the dream over the reality.

For my “other” career, I took a technical writing class. The instructor asked the class, “If you had enough money that you didn’t have to work, if you could do anything in the world that you wanted to do, what would you do?” As fate would have it, she called on me first. I told her that I would sit in a room with a large plate glass window that overlooked the Texas hill country, and I would write a novel. The members of my class stared at me as though I’d lost my mind. They were going snorkeling in the Bahamas, skiing in Colorado, lounging on the Riviera.

But I wanted to write. It was at that moment that my dream began to take hold of me, but it would be several more years before I would work up the courage to test my dream.

FIND SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU ACCOUNTABLE. When I began writing, I would send my sister each chapter as I finished it. She was not my critique partner, but she was the one who would call and say, “Where’s the rest of it?” And so I felt obligated to write the next chapter and to send it to her.

FIND A CRITIQUE PARTNER. Find someone with the same dream, the same desires, someone who can give you the feedback that you need to finish the book. Someone who understands that a book is not written overnight, that rejects are part of the process.

WRITE THE CRITICAL SCENE FIRST. When a story comes to me, I usually can envision one critical scene that makes me want to tell this story. I write that scene first. In ALWAYS TO REMEMBER, that scene was the night when the men from the town confronted Clay, and Meg learned beyond a doubt that Clay was no coward. When I am tired from a full day of work, worn out from being a mother and a wife . . . and I’m looking for motivation, I read the critical scene, the reason this story is important to me. If I don’t finish writing the book, I can’t share this scene, this story with anyone. And so I sit down to write when I’m tired, or when Mel Gibson is on the television, or when the department store is having its sale to end all sales. Because if I don’t write, I’ll never finish the story.

SHARE YOU DREAM WITH YOUR CHILDREN. Children are wonderful motivators. They have yet to learn that not all dreams are attainable. When I started to write my first story, my oldest son was in the third grade. He told his friends that his mother was a writer even though I had yet to finish writing a complete story. He came home from school one day and told me that the teachers had gathered all the third grade classes together and they had gone around the room asking each child who his or her favorite author was. Then the teachers had told the children who their favorite authors were. My son told me, “They all said Danielle Steele. But, Mom, some day they’ll all say you.”

A child’s faith in your dream is a wonderful motivator.

Reprinted: Courtesy author Lorraine Heath and Painted Rock http://www.paintedrock.com (*Note: Link removed as site is no longer working)

Lori Soard started Word Museum in 1997. She’s a published author and has written thousands of articles over the years for newspapers, magazines and online. She has a PhD in Journalism and lives in Southern Indiana with her husband. They have two grown daughters, both animal lovers their house is always filled with pets.

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