Thursday, February 28, 2008

Motivation, Where Are You???

So there's been some discussion on a writers' board I frequent about motivation and how to stay interested and energized day in and day out with your writing. I thought this was a fantastic discussion for the blog because I feel like I'm smacked with ennui several times a year, and I know that I'm not alone in this.

For me, the best way to deal with the blahs is to branch out into something new. In this sense, writing is no different than any other job - everyone needs to change things up every now and then. That's honestly why I started writing fiction: I just got tired of the constant deadlines of the magazine work and writing piece after piece on subjects that I already knew about. What I loved most about magazine writing when I first started out was that I was learning so damn much. I mean, if you write about a variety of subjects and interview enough experts, you're bound to soak up reams of info yourself...but after a while, especially to maximize your time to money ratio, you tend to cover similar subjects over and over...and well, that's just not the best way to feed your brain, though it does help feed your bank account.

So, I started writing fiction in my off-hours. Turned out that initially, I wasn't so great at it. But it didn't matter! It energized me, made me fall back in love with writing, and that energy carried over to my magazine assignments, which I returned to with a renewed vigor.

But now, having just been given the official sign off on Time of My Life (my editor deemed it, "perfect!"), I'm faced with diving back into the grind, and lemme tell you, it's not coming easily. I have enough time to now tackle more work but I'm dragging my feet because I'm waiting for something to jump out and inspire me. Maybe it's my next book? I dunno: I'm brainstorming ideas, but I've found that brainstorming doesn't work best for me - I just need to be struck like lightening with an idea and characters,'s not filling too much of my time. I'm staying busy with celebrity stuff and various mag work here and there...but still, I'm weighted down with that weird feeling of being both antsy and bored.

Normally, I'd take a day or two off and kick around to renew my enthusiasm - and in many cases, I think this is exactly what works - play hooky, do something you love, take a walk - and you'll return to your computer raring to go. But in my case, I'm not sure. Honestly, I think that maybe on solution is to return to work full-blast: I find that when I'm working on a ton of stuff, I have less time to think about being bored, and thus, voila, I am less bored and more stimulated by what I'm doing. don't know. I'm guessing that I haven't fully laid my characters from Time of My Life to rest, and once I've fully gestated that book, I'll be fired up to move on to something bigger and better. (Which, in the meantime, means I have a lot of time for twiddling my thumbs.)

So what do you guys do when either daily or more long-term blahs hit?


Trish Ryan said...

I dive into a book that has nothing to do with my writing at all. It's oddly helpful to get wrapped up in someone else's writing--on a topic I'd never write about, so I'm not analyzing their style--and just give the creative side of my brain a rest.

That, and I watch Project Runway reruns on DVR :)

Eileen said...

I think it's important to give yourself a break once and awhile. Like Trish I love to read a book or do something totally outside my routine.

Can't wait for your next book!

Alison Ashley Formento said...

I read. The paper—each and every page, a biography, a children's adventure story—anything to escape my "work" brain for a bit. The problem is when I feel unispired and a deadline is looming, which is what I'm experiencing now. It may be the winter blues, but I'm having a rough time finishing this magazine piece that's due tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I find that watching movies and reading books helps a lot. The inspire me and soon I'm itching to create my own stories again.

abigail said...

Great topic today Allison!
I like to listen to books on CD, especially the ones that have inspired me in the past. I find that I catch things I didn't necessarily pick up on when reading the book. It's a great accompaniment for a walk in the fresh air. Or if you just need a good laugh, check out my blog ( I just received some pretty funny photos of celebs.

Unknown said...

I am so with you! The first book is completely done and I'm about to get started on the second one. In the meantime, I'm unmotivated and, uh, bored. Rather than enjoy the downtime (which doesn't tend to last long), I'm beating myself up over my lack of productivity. I'm trying to come up with some magazine pitches, but without a deadline looming, my creative energy really fizzles. I find that the less I have to do, the less I WANT to do. It really is kind of a vicious cycle...and I have no suggestions for how to get through it. Reading and watching movies or TV just make me feel unproductive, too. Argh.