Over at the Guild forums, Ben Reid has listed the various motivation styles of he and his fellow Wellington writing group members. I was surprised to realise that I’ve tried all of them.

Was each style a kind of stage in my development as a writer? Or a flailing about in search of One True Way to Write? Answer is currently in the Too Hard basket.

Meantime, some arbitrary categories:

Inspiration as Motivation

Watching films and television are equal parts inspiration and motivation… and de-motivation. Being motivated by a film or television programme is dead easy. The line between inspiration and de-motivation is fiendishly fine: Wow, that was soo freaking cool, I wanna do that! can oh-so-easily become I have nothing to offer, I am a hack, I am nothing.

When it comes to making up character backstories or synopsising, my first response is almost always that if I – that is, The Audience – can’t see it or hear it, why the hell do I have to write that shit? What I forget though is that once I’ve done the above bios or treatments, I find myself newly enthused – inspired, even – as I rediscover why I want to write the story in the first place.

Sharing as Motivation

I used to talk over various stages of my script with friends and family. If I wasn’t careful – and I certainly wasn’t in those early heady days – I discovered that their indulgent or polite smiles of heyyy, he’s a writer would eventually morph into looks of if he tells me about his script, I will stab him in the eye-socket with my teaspoon.

Co-writing is something I’d like to do although very probably for the wrong reason: I think all I really want is for someone else to do the heavy lifting. (There might be a future post in this.)

I don’t tell anyone about being competitive with my writing and career. It’s a secret.


No matter how enthused – or sick to the back teeth – I am with a script, those ninety-plus pages and I need a time-out. It’s true: absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Thinking ahead to the next project is more of an occupational hazard than a motivator.

And ooh, I just live for deadlines. Especially if I’ve been wreaking havoc with my mouse-hand and sleeping patterns on Call of Duty for most of the time I should’ve been writing.

The past while, I’ve been just writing – anything sometimes, any-goddamned thing just to bloody get something on-screen – hating every single keystroke, counting the pages until I can stop, and I know it’s rubbish, and that I’ll have to rewrite it.

But I also know that every element that I throw out has broadened what I know about The Story. That every little darling whose throat I’ve crushed, gave me something, even fleetingly, towards The Story.

And in those screeds of reluctantly tapped out script-moments, I know that I’ve taken just that little step closer to finishing.

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3 Replies to “Motivation”

  1. Great post man. Yeah, I’m in that place of writing stuff at the moment, and knowing that it’ll have to be rewritten. But it’s getting me towards that rewrite!

  2. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll do more taking notes at my writers group meeting and then posting them on-line at the guild forum. Though half the reason I was taking the notes was that I was tired from having been at the guild board meeting that afternoon and I wanted to look like I was too busy taking notes to really take part in the conversation (rather than the truth which was my brain wasn’t working well enough to think of interesting things to say).
    Can you tell I’m posting this comment as a means of avoiding doing harder work? Not a script this time. Just an email to a producer. But it takes so much work crafting those puppies when you’re trying to tell a producer that he’s just plain wrong.

  3. chur, Sean!

    and Ben: it’s a brilliant idea for notes from the enviously well-regulated Wellington Writers Group to be shared on the forum but i worry that it is another yoke for your back.

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