I’m a big fan of motivational reading. Over the years I have used many books, talks, podcasts, and more, to get me over humps and out of slumps. Now I’d like to share all that has resonated with me, in the hope that, wherever you are on your writing journey, the things I’ve learned might inspire you too.
Each of my Author’s Mindset series has four topics. I suggest you pick one topic and spend some time (at least a week, or as long as you need) mulling over the suggestions, and implementing any new habits you need to propel your writing forward.
Do you understand what drives you to write?
I’ve always loved words, ideas and stories. When I truly connect with a story, I struggle to believe those characters and situations don’t exist. That’s why I cried reading The Light Between Oceans, and why the opening lines of Toni Morrison’s Beloved always give me goose-bumps. It’s also why my daughters are used to me welling-up during bedtime stories, as there are so many beautiful children’s books with poignant endings. Koala Lou gets me every time!
All the novels I’ve written are the kinds of stories I love to read: psychological suspense with interesting relationships and a good mystery to solve. I’m curious about the different facets of people’s personalities. I’m intrigued by psychological struggle, posttraumatic stress disorder, and how the big events and circumstances of life often begin with small moments and spontaneous decisions. Add to that a whole wealth of topics that spark my curiosity – from climate change, to love triangles, to teens using social media, to dystopian-style governments – and all this goes into my creative melting pot, and becomes a story.
It’s important to find out what motivates you to write, because when you have that core belief to hand, you can come back to it if you lose your way. Another one of my core motivators is that I enjoy exploring complex problems and moral dilemmas. Since we live in a world of easy sound-bites and snap judgments, I like taking the time to consider contradictions and shades of grey in different situations.
ACTION STEPS/THINGS TO CONSIDER
Start your day the right way. Before you get up and get distracted, set yourself one realistic writing goal for the day. It could be half an hour for writing, or reading through a scene. These small steps will add up to big strides forward.
Write down your goal(s) to keep yourself accountable, and work on them as you go along. If you struggle to hit targets, maybe you can tweak your ambitions so the frustration doesn’t derail you. If you easily accomplish your goals, perhaps you could challenge yourself a little bit more?
Look for the publication stories of your favourite writers, learn about their struggles and find out what keeps them motivated.
Try the seven-levels deep technique, which I learned from motivational speaker Dean Graziosi. Ask yourself seven questions to get to the root of an aspect of your storytelling or your desire to write. For example, I could start with:
Q1: Why do I want/need to write this story?
A1: Because I want to examine how social media can disrupt family life.
Q2: Why do you want to examine how social media can disrupt family life?
A2: Because I think social media is hampering people’s ability to communicate with one another.
Q3: Why do you think social media is hampering people’s ability to communicate with one another?
A3: Because my daughter no longer talks to me and spends all her time on the phone.
Q4: Why does it matter to you that your daughter no longer talks to you and spends all her time on the phone?
A4: Because I want her to notice the world and the people around her.
Q5: Why is it important to you that your daughter notices the world and people around her?
A5: Because I want her to value relationships
Q6: Why do you want her to value relationships?
A6: Because only deep, complex relationships bring meaningful connections.
Q7: Why is it important she has deep relationships/meaningful connections?
A7: Because loneliness is a stealthy, silent killer.
And so on … by answer 7 you’ll find that your replies have moved away from the external and become more personal and passionate. You can use these intrinsic desires to help you stay motivated, or to clarify aspects of your work.
A HELPFUL RESOURCE FOR MOTIVATION:
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
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