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What MOTIVATED you to finish book no. 1? (1 Viewer)

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Mikeyboy_esq

Senior Member
Dear Author Friends:
What MOTIVATED you to finish book no. 1?

The thing that helped me most was publicly sharing my author goal on social media and asking friends & family to hold me accountable. During the 4 LONG YEARS it took to complete my debut book, I can't tell you how many times folks checked on my progress and encouraged me to keep going. Their coaxing inspired me to reach the finish line! Now I have a total of 4 books published and no longer need this form of motivation. However, I highly recommend this tool for anyone starting out.


To my fellow authors, please share what helped you finish your 1st book? (hopefully this post will help our fellow writers/authors finish their next book)

motivation_pixabay 10062020.jpg
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Same for me. Once I verbalized to my friends and family that I was going to write a book, I had to follow through and write the book.
 

JJ Dean

Senior Member
I definitely had a similar experience to you both - feeling like I had to finish so I could justify the time I spent to my friends and family. A healthy (or even unhealthy) dose of competitiveness doesn't hurt either, like, "so-and-so is probably writing right now, so you'd better get to work."
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I keep it quiet that I am a writer until I have enough professional sales to justify telling people.

It's very hard to keep silent about what I am doing most of the time, but I have to. If I tell other people about what I am trying to do, they will pat me on my head and I will lose my motivation.
 

ehbowen

Senior Member
My empty bank account and my house that needs repair!

Seriously, I've had that story in my head for a LONG time (wrote it out for screenwriting class in '96), but a combination of factors helped me to push it over the top. One of them was showing the unfinished bits and pieces to friends who might appreciate it, but there was also getting hired (temporary) at an aging and soon to be shuttered facility which turned out to be a perfect real-world location in which to set my action scenes (I do so like to use true-to-life backdrops). There were still the occasional logjams, but there always turned out to be a way through them.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
"Eh, eh Maddy, aye, neighbour wrote book, ther by satellite dish...yeah...wrote in week or summit, witches, dragon shit..."

"Hew, and um, under which publishing authority did our Princess publicate? No doubt a self-publisher [shudder]..."

"Penguin's Random House I think it were said, is in local paper...would you like your own autofiled copy..?"

"New, mi god, my mammy, beam me to twentieth century, helf..!"
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
1. Not everyone is able to create a story. Some people don't have a chance of idea ever sparked in their mind. So don't waste it.

2. The fact that book no. 1's story is 10 years old (last year), while my first ever story is 15 years old (this year) is actually embarrassing. :-|

3. Bonus point: Writing isn't what I wanted to do and not my intention for my story(s) to be formed as. But sometimes things do not go our way, so we need to learn to do the other way or it won't happen otherwise.
 

TheManx

Senior Member
Didn't really have a problem with the motivation to finish the book. But right about the time I did, I was starting a new business -- and I lost both my folks within a few months. I lost the momentum, didn't really have the time to do all the stuff you have to do to either get published or publish it yourself -- never mind all the follow up promotion etc. So for a good while, I thought I'd wait until my kids were older, until my business was established etc. etc. Well, that time is now. :) I pulled the thing out of a drawer recently and dusted it off, so to speak. In some ways, it was like reading a book someone else had written, and some of the flaws became evident. Nothing too big. But the changes will mostly come under the category of "killing your darlings" -- cutting scenes and characters that I really like but seem extraneous story-wise. Now if I could just stop writing all these short stories based on ideas that have been dammed up all these years...
 

Cephus

Senior Member
I finished book #1 because I wanted to finish book #1. Same with the next 30 books I wrote. Dedication comes from within. You either have it or you don't.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
Mainly, I loved the characters and the story-world they were in.

Though, I also had delusions of grandeur . . . which probably helped, too. :beguiled:

Delusional confidence isn't ideal, obviously—but I'd take it any day of the week over doubt or uncertainty (as those are the real productivity killers).
 

K.S. Crooks

Senior Member
I fell in love with my characters and wanted to finish their book and get to the next one. Now I working on book four of their storyline.
 

David K. Thomasson

Senior Member
Don't waste time searching for motives

I think it is largely useless to search for motivations, for the simple reason that they're buried in the subconscious. I could say I finished my first book because I desired to do it. But why did I desire it? At this point I could (like everyone else) come up with some "reason," but that is just rationalization. The fact is, I don't know what motivated me to keep at it and finish.

But I do know how I managed to keep at it: by making a deal with myself, making a commitment. I promised myself I would get up every morning of every day and, very first thing, write. No coffee, no breakfast, no distractions or preliminaries of any kind; just get out of bed, go straight to the computer, and write. I found that it helped to begin writing when I was still half asleep, in a sort of semi-dream state. I would turn back two or three pages and re-read what I'd written up to my latest stopping point. In this dreamy state, it was easy to sink into the story and let it carry me along. By the time I reached my previous stopping point, my mind was churning up ideas for how to continue the story.

In the beginning I also set a minimum time limit of 30 minutes. When the timer chimed, I was free to stop or to keep writing. I was also free to return later in the day and continue. But there was no pressure and no self-imposed obligation to continue at either time. The only mandatory part of the deal was that first half-hour. That was non-negotiable, so there could be no internal discussion of should I or shouldn't I write this morning.

The underlying motivation to begin this project and complete it was "in there" somewhere. I don't know what that motivation was, but whatever it was, it was sufficiently strong for me to make that deal with myself and stick to it. Don't underestimate the importance of sheer will-power and habit. As Nike says, Just do it. Don't waste time gazing at your navel and trying to make out motives that are buried in your subconscious mind. Just do it
 
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Cephus

Senior Member
I think it is largely useless to search for motivations, for the simple reason that they're buried in the subconscious. I could say I finished my first book because I desired to do it. But why did I desire it? At this point I could (like everyone else) come up with some "reason," but that is just rationalization. The fact is, I don't know what motivated me to keep at it and finish.

That's really the thing though. If you want to do a thing, you will do it. If you don't, then you won't. Motivation always comes from within. If you want to run a race, you will run that race. If you don,t you won't. It does no good to be looking for motivation half-way through. You're either committed through the finish line or you're not. If you're not, drop out. It's why I finish every book that I start, because I don't start unless I'm committed to finish. I write because I want to write. I don't need anyone to talk me into it, I don't need to make excuses or rationalizations to continue, I do it because that's what I want to do. I know it's hard. I accept that it's hard. I know there will be places I will get frustrated. That doesn't mean that I'm going to allow myself to stop.

People really need to, as you said "just do it". If that dedication doesn't come from within, go find something else to do.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
I think motivation is often (though not always) more complicated than a mere Nike slogan ("Just do it!").

Consider that not everyone is in the same place.

Some struggle with the craft of writing itself, and find their desire to write frustrated by their inability to write well. For those people, their motivation often turns into anger, disappointment, fatigue (etc...). They start searching for "how to stay motivated" tips because, while they want to write, they find the experience unenjoyable, because of their results.

"How to stay motivated when I hate my writing?" is a surprisingly common question, (and a valid concern, in my opinion). See also: "How to stay motivated when I hate my job?"

Then there's the issue of time management. A lot of writers have busy lives, crowded households, time-consuming jobs . . . It's valid for those people to scoff at the "Set a writing schedule and stick to it!" suggestion, because such a concept is likely not feasible for them. A better approach for those folks would be to squeeze their writing in whenever they can, and to be okay with days where writing time just isn't possible. "How to stay motivated when I hardly have time to write?" is a valid question, for people like this.

The list of difficulties can probably go on and on. I once read an article by a mother who was forcing herself to write her novel, even while her young daughter was in the hospital, battling cancer. For her, the act of writing was therapeutic—a form of escape. But I don't think anyone would've blamed the woman if she'd lost her writing motivation during such a time.

I mean, sure, in the grand scheme of things, I totally agree that motivation must come from within. But I think it's worth acknowledging that sometimes there are external factors (some of which may be out of our control) that can negatively impact our motivation. For those cases, I think it's totally valid to seek motivational help. :encouragement:
 

David K. Thomasson

Senior Member
I think motivation is often (though not always) more complicated than a mere Nike slogan ("Just do it!").
You're missing the main distinction I was drawing: Motivation, whatever and wherever it might be, is one thing; the will or determination to write despite motivation or its absence is quite another. Khaled Hosseini, author of three NY Times best-selling novels, says: "To be a writer — this may seem trite, I realize — you have to actually write. You have to write every day, and you have to write whether you feel like it or not" [read: Just do it].

Consider that not everyone is in the same place.
Nothing in my original posts suggest that everyone is in the same place.

Some struggle with the craft of writing itself, and find their desire to write frustrated by their inability to write well. For those people, their motivation often turns into anger, disappointment, fatigue (etc...). They start searching for "how to stay motivated" tips because, while they want to write, they find the experience unenjoyable, because of their results.
I experienced such frustration for years as a beginning writer. Sitting down to a writing assignment as a young journalist was neither enjoyable nor rewarding. But instead of searching for "how to stay motivated" tips, I sought ways to improve my writing. That option is open to any beginner who finds writing to be hard and frustrating because he can't yet write well. ["I can't write well, so I'll quit." vs. "I can't write well, so I'll learn how to write well."]

Then there's the issue of time management. A lot of writers have busy lives, crowded households, time-consuming jobs . . . It's valid for those people to scoff at the "Set a writing schedule and stick to it!" suggestion, because such a concept is likely not feasible for them.
David Baldacci worked all day in a DC law firm, then went home and wrote most of the night. He did that for a solid year. The result was Absolute Power. Scott Turow was a lawyer in Chicago. He wrote his first novel in a notebook while commuting to work by train. There are many other similar stories of writers who, though they had busy lives, crowed households and time-consuming jobs, did not think it was "valid" to scoff at the idea of setting a writing schedule and sticking to it.

Let's just say that you and I have very different attitudes about how to keep going when the going gets tough.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
Well, I still recommend writing, even when it's tough. We're in agreement there.

My point is that some writers do need help in the motivation department, and that the oft touted "butt in chair, fingers on keys" maxim (and its ilk) are, in my opinion, often more dismissive than helpful.

To me, it's kind of like the "Writers Block doesn't exist!" argument that inevitably pops up whenever someone asks for tips on how to defeat Writer's Block. Perhaps for some people, Writer's Block truly doesn't exist. But for others, it certainly does. The same could be said for motivational difficulties.

Tony Robbins, for example, has made a career out of helping people stay motivated and productive, and he'd be one of the first to argue that motivation is often more complicated than work ethic alone. Sometimes there are variables to consider, and strategies to implement to deal with them.
 

Cephus

Senior Member
Some struggle with the craft of writing itself, and find their desire to write frustrated by their inability to write well. For those people, their motivation often turns into anger, disappointment, fatigue (etc...). They start searching for "how to stay motivated" tips because, while they want to write, they find the experience unenjoyable, because of their results.

Everyone does. This isn't unique to anyone. Everyone started there and only the ones who persevere ever get past it. What far too many people online want isn't "how do I push through" but "do it for me!" They want people to provide motivation for them to keep working and that's no one's job but yours. Writing, whether anyone likes it or not, is not a group activity. It's your butt in a seat, your hands on a keyboard, spending hours on your own working hard. I don't think a lot of people really understand that. They think that because there are writing forums, that this is something that we all do together and that's simply not the case. It's all on you. Succeed or fail, you have 100% of the responsibility and that scares a lot of people.

"How to stay motivated when I hate my writing?" is a surprisingly common question, (and a valid concern, in my opinion). See also: "How to stay motivated when I hate my job?"

If you hate your job, you quit your job and go find another one. If you really hate writing, then you stop writing. That's another thing that is bizarre in amateur writing circles, the idea that we can't ever allow anyone to quit. The idea that we have to throw endless encouraging platitudes at anyone who ever expresses doubt and if someone else is allowed to fail, then you just might fail too. That's dumb. This is not for everyone. Just because you have an idea, that doesn't mean that you have the skill or fortitude to actually produce one worth reading. Lazy people are not going to become good writers. People with thin skins are not going to survive being published. Just because you want it doesn't mean you're going to get it. It's why people who show up in forums, not just writing forums but any, asking questions that they could answer on their own with a 30-second Google search, those people aren't going to do well. Those people are not self-sufficient and self-sufficiency is essential. You need to be able to learn on your own. You need to be able to come up with story ideas and know how to put a story together. There are people who just pop up every 45 seconds with a new question because they have no ability or interest in doing it themselves. Those people will not succeed.

Then there's the issue of time management. A lot of writers have busy lives, crowded households, time-consuming jobs . . . It's valid for those people to scoff at the "Set a writing schedule and stick to it!" suggestion, because such a concept is likely not feasible for them. A better approach for those folks would be to squeeze their writing in whenever they can, and to be okay with days where writing time just isn't possible. "How to stay motivated when I hardly have time to write?" is a valid question, for people like this.

Welcome to reality. There are 24 hours in a day. You decide how to fill them. If you legitimately have so many things to do every day that you can't fit in writing, then you can't be a writer. Writing requires that you write. You either do it or you don't. If you're serious, you will find a way. You will stop doing other things to write. You will lose sleep to write. You will do it and if you can't then this isn't the time in your life to think about writing. It doesn't matter how much you want to, it matters what you are willing to do in order to do it. That's the reality and far too many people think that wanting something means you automatically get it with no effort. That's not how it works.

I mean, sure, in the grand scheme of things, I totally agree that motivation must come from within. But I think it's worth acknowledging that sometimes there are external factors (some of which may be out of our control) that can negatively impact our motivation. For those cases, I think it's totally valid to seek motivational help. :encouragement:

No, they don't. Writing, perhaps more than anything else, requires an internal commitment. No one is going to hold you accountable. No one is looking over your shoulder. You either choose to do it or you don't. All the excuses in the world don't change anything. If you don't write, you're not a writer. If you don't have that internal fortitude, you're not going to make it. Writing, especially for publication, requires that you have a thick skin or you won't survive. It requires that you have the commitment to work constantly. It requires that you have a strong work ethic. It doesn't matter if you feel like getting up and going to work today, you do it because you have to. The same thing goes for writing. You do it because you have to do it. It's why one of the first things I tell prospective writers is that they need to have a realistic expectation of the craft. It's one of the hardest damn things you will ever do, especially starting out. It requires rugged individualism, the ability to get out there and make it work on your own. The ability to be absolutely honest with yourself. The ability to learn from criticism and get better on your own. Writing isn't something that you can just turn off, it's something that you are always doing or always thinking about doing. I can be on vacation and will still be plotting a book in the back of my mind. It's part of who I am. I'll wake up at 3am with a new idea and I'll go write. I will forego other hobbies to write. I will stay home from social events if I have a deadline and all of my deadlines are self-imposed. I don't have to hit them, nobody is standing there with a whip, I do it because I want to do it and therefore, I always get it done.

If that's not you, maybe you're in the wrong place.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
I'm reminded of a writer I saw on social media (Twitter) who was asking the writing community for help, as she was finding that the act of writing, lately, was bringing her to tears. She hated her work. She hated the feedback she got. She hated the constant rejections. She felt that her mental health was suffering, and she truly was coming to hate the act of writing itself.

And yes, she got the inevitable, "Suck it up, Buttercup", responses, along with the usual, "Maybe you're not cut out for this," advice. But there were also writers who suggested she try other things, like writing exercises and writer's groups -- approaches to nurture and rekindle her desire to write, rather than treating her issue as yet another nail to be smashed with a one-size-fits-all hammer.

I think that relates to my underlying point -- that sometimes things factor in that take the issue beyond mere "Soldier on!" mantras. (And my issue isn't with you, David, or you, Cephus, but the subject of psychological motivation in general, and how it's so often dismissed.)

I think sometimes we pretend we're emotionless creatures, and emotional factors are often seen as invalid, excuses, etc . . .
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Motivation...

First, I love my stories because I write the books that I wish I could find and read.
Second, my characters are alive in my head and dislike being neglected.
but mostly...
Third, I'm a measure twice cut once kinda guy. I live with the story in my head for a long time before I even start making notes. Notes then turn into a plot, and that fleshes out my characters. I refine and refine and refine until I can't stand not writing the story, and then it comes out in a flood. I write everyday - and feel guilty if something pulls me away from it.

We all have our methods - which probably align with our personalities. From there, we do what works.
 

TheManx

Senior Member
Thinking about switching to children’s books. They’re like REALLY short. Seems like you could just crap those things out.
 
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