Writing Motivation – Most creative writing is not writing at all. That much has been clear to any seasoned content writer, novelist, screenplay writer, playwright, poet, etc. Sitting back over that bean bag, hitting the keys endlessly, with an hour-stale coffee – the unyielding exercise of ‘guerrilla writing’ is something that we’ve all been through.
Still, despite having gone through the same conundrum, we find ourselves back and again in what’s commonly called the ‘Writer’s Block’. Solutions aplenty, every writer has to find their own way through it. There’s no 10-day scheme for ‘Creative Block’ and anyone who says that one should ‘wait-it-out’ is perhaps an agent or your mother! Contrary to popular assumption writers don’t bleed rainbows on paper. Financials, deadlines, misleading feedback; there is more than one enemy of pure creative intent.
Cherry on the top – no psychiatric community or poets society is conducting any research to perhaps help the distressed community of writers in this scenario. In the words of a demented pirate’s opinion “Res ipsa loquitur, tabula in naufragio, we are left with but one option (sic)”; ‘Looking up to the Greats’. There’s no better opportunity than a writer’s block to re-affirm one’s faith in the writing process. Here are a few classics which one can refer to seek writing motivation from, in times of creative dilemma.
Writing Motivation #1
“A lot of writers do not like to write, I do” – Harper Lee
Most of us have a common complaint, that our writing takes too much of our time. Slow writing is something that neither our clients nor our publisher are a big fan of. When asked how she was spending her time after the glory ride of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird”; Nelle Harper Lee replied that her next novel was equally slow like her first one. Despite being a slow writer she had a firm faith in her process, explaining which she said: “You know so many writers don’t like to write; they do it under the compulsion that makes any artist the victim he is…”
She continues “I like to write. Sometimes I’m afraid that I like it too much…, (for writing) I’ll go for days and days without leaving the house…”
Source: A 1964 Harper Lee interview with WQXR
Harper Lee released her first novel in 1960, her second book ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was released 55 years later in 2015. Writing may take hours, days, even years to come through; it doesn’t mean that the creative flow is flawed. For anyone who seeks writing motivation, faith in one’s word is the foremost necessity; something without which everything that may come later is mere illusion; a ‘fugazi’!
Writing Motivation #2
“Writers write as a debt of honor” – Anne Lamott
Munshi Premchand (20th Century Indian writer) was once quoted as saying “I am a writer by religion not profession, I do not have the right to eat or sleep unless I’ve written something through the day”.
Anne Lamott (author – All New People, Bird by Bird, Blue Shoe, Plan B) manages to sentence the same opinion only with a deeper passion. She explains in her Ted Talk from 2017, that the difference between a WRITER and you, is their conviction to go through with their creative process, probably as a pre-arrangement with themselves.
The author of 18 titles (novels and non-fiction books) says “Everything that happens to you is yours, and you get to tell it in your own voice…”. What more could a writer want for writing motivation? To have missed an idea that was born of you, without having written anything about it; is more disheartening than a discouraging feedback.
Source: Ted Talk Anne Lamott – 12 truths I learned from life and writing
Having faith in your writing is one thing, exercising it is another. So, sit right up, grab that pen (tablet maybe) and serve your destiny. Your honor might not come from writing but it sure does fulfill your idea of being.
Writing Motivation #3
“You cannot dictate to the reader how they should read a book…” – Margaret Atwood
Imagine yourselves in the reader’s shoes is probably the most counterproductive advice that anyone ever gave to a writer. Conjuring a telepathic synchronization with others to decipher what they want is an art only perfected by Santa Claus.
Margaret Atwood, when she wrote Handmaid’s Tale didn’t point to the central character’s name ever. The readers decided that it was ‘June’. “It had to be June, obviously!” she says. Coincidentally every name that she’d mentioned in the first chapter for all handmaids happened to repeat at least once in the next chapters; save for one – June. The readers themselves took the name to be of importance and viola!
Source: Masterclass by Margaret Atwood – Creative Writing
Restricting your writing, to account for how it might be perceived is a redundant block, a self-created one. You don’t need writing motivation for it, you need perspective; an ability to relieve yourself from the obligation to please every reader and embrace the one to please the right reader or at least yourself.
Also read: How implementing 5S techniques for writing process can help you improve as a freelancer?
Writing Motivation #4
“If it’s coming out like ketchup from bottle, then you don’t have it yet” – Aaron Sorkin
“You want the truth?” – Books can be written in a matter of days; maybe in hours! The same goes for all other formats of literary or commercial content. Creator of marvels like ‘A Few Good Men’, ‘The Newsroom’, ‘The American President’, ‘The West Wing’, and more recently – ‘The Social Network’, ‘Molly’s Game’; teaches the same.
Aaron says that before he can start writing (actually typing) the first scene of any screenplay, he needs to have all the writing resources at his disposal. By writing resources he means, the intention and obstacle for the plot, the conflict, the characters, etc. Once he has these details well formulated, it takes him to create a ‘first scene’ in about the same time as it would to type that scene.
Source: Masterclass by Aaron Sorkin – Screenwriting
Underthought attempts at writing in the desperation of completing a writing task or meeting a personal milestone is perhaps the best way to ruin an otherwise great writing motivation. Remember, the urgency of the writing task is not the driver of your creativity.
It’s okay to break out from the creative cycle to let in some wisdom. But being at it while suffering from cognitive dissonance is not wise. Obstructed flow leads to split ends; you’ll be amazed to find how many meanings could a sentence deliver if interrupted in between. Learn not to struggle with your writing.
Writing Motivation #5
“If you want to change the world, start by making your bed” – William McRaven
Made very common by the Goalcast video, shared across LinkedIn profiles for what we may call ‘ages’ now – this quote by William Harry McRaven (Ret. United States Navy four-star admiral) has helped many to find the daily inspiration for working on their step goals.
Source: Audiobook – Make your Bed by William H. McRaven
Having heard his complete speech and after reading his book, one may find that he talks about ‘Making your bed’ in two contexts. McRaven says that making one’s bed initiates a successive series of tasks, ultimately jump-starting you to a productive day; but he also says that ‘Making your Bed’ acts as a small victory. It is that victory which we writers must cherish when in dismay of the creative block.
Do something, do anything, that even remotely might assist you towards writing. Having completed that auxiliary task would lend you a head-start the next time you sit to write. Something as trivial as sharpening your pencil for the next iteration of writing is a victory, victory over a blunt-brazen word which might not look that apt when written along with others which had earlier made the write-up look resolved.
It’s more of generic advice than a writing one, but “enjoy the little victories, make space for such victories and you won’t even know when your creative block is over”.
Others are reading: the ultimate checklist for proofreading your content here.
Love thy writing – The Act if not the Creation
The theology of writing is a little twisted. Creative composition is always acting in contravention of its own cause – Imagination. ‘Lorentz Law’ – the best analogy that one can recall, when thinking about this process. Each step towards the expression of imagination is a call for more perfection. Many of us have found ourselves looped in cycles of perfection despite having created multiple copies of the same piece. But every time we look up to the greats, they have something valuable to offer.
For more such inspirational talk on how to write your book, screenplay, novella, etc. follow Wit Write Creative Solutions’ Ghostwriting tag.
After ghostwriting 8 titles and participating in almost 10 others, Wit Write Creative Solutions has found that more often authors with highly creative ideas are unable to put down their thoughts on paper. Among things that we’re an expert at like web content writing, social content management, SEO writing, white-papers; ‘Book writing’ is something that we’ve been doing for the last 5 years now.
If you have an idea discuss it with us. Do not shy away from seeking help. As much as 45% of the books published in India are ghost-written. Get a ghostwriter today! For what it’s worth, you will at least have another prospective reader for when it comes out. (Oh! We do believe that anyone who has given book-writing a though eventually ends up creating one. Ghost-writer or no Ghost-writer we’ll be there).