Thursday, August 05, 2010
The carrot or the stick?
Oh, yeah, babe, a chocolate keyboard like the one here is EXACTLY what will make me BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard.)
On the other hand, I might be eating the keys instead of pounding them. So, hmh, that sounds like a less than optimum solution there.
While the spectre of breach of contract and being sued by a major publisher will get me to the keyboard every time, it doesn't make the creative juices flow or inspire me to whistle while I work. I wind up with the exact same work attitude as the recalcitrant old mule who has been dragged to the field only to sit down on his haunches, refusing to budge.
More positive motivations, the aforementioned carrot (or more aptly put for writers, the Hershey bar)?
Reading a good book: Almost nothing inspires me more than reading a book that moves me, a story that makes me see writing done right. Recently I read THE HUNGER GAMES at near gunpoint (yes, there are only two other people in the world that haven't read it), and despite my hesitation about the premise, I read it in one gulp and came away in awe. How had Suzanne Collins hooked me, a cynical writer-type who is past jaded? It excited me and made me want to polish up my own tricks.
Reading an awful book: This is the "almost nothing more" situation -- the only thing that inspires me to write more than a good book is a bad one. I read a bit of it, bang it against my forehead, read a few more pages, bang my head again ... and I think, "Self, you could write a better story than this. You HAVE written a better story than this." It sends me straight to the computer to prove to the world and to myself that I can and will write a better story.
(I feel at this point the urge to insert this caveat: I am fully aware that readers have used my very own books as aforementioned inspiration. Not all readers like all books, and as a published author, I can admit that not every book an author writes is one she is completely proud of. Sometimes it's just a miss, but I've done my best, my editor says it's approved, and so I cash the advance check anyway.)
Talking about writing: For me, whenever I get a chance to run my mouth about writing, I come away enthusiastic and pumped up, like a runner in a athletic shoe shop. With other writers, I feel understood and not like a long lost puppy who's really a kitty and doesn't know it. So writing conferences, writers groups, or just a bunch of writers meeting for a cup of coffee can serve to get me revived on writing.
Paying it forward: Helping newbie writers always reminds me why I fell in love with writing in the first place. I think it's sort of like how parents view the world through the eyes of their children -- yeah, they see the mistakes that can be made and the foolish ideas, but they also see the innocence, the joie de vivre, the excitement that they too experienced in a past lifetime.
Published authors have to be really careful not to sound like they have the market cornered on the Gospel Truth of Getting Published (because we don't) and they have to remember that their first obligation is to their families and their legal binding contracts (BREACH OF CONTRACT! AAACK! Away from me!)
But we can still pay it forward in small ways -- in random acts of kindness. Because really, when we're paying it forward, we're refilling our own motivation tank -- or at least I am.