Hey y’all. Kalayna isn’t feeling well today, so I’m here. I put on a long wig with a couple of blue streaks in it just to make it a little more Kalayna-like when I wrote the post, but it didn’t work. And no, you don’t get pictures of me in the blue wig. – JGH
Okay, so I went looking on Dictionary.com for a good definition for “motivation” to start this post with, one of those cute little definition beginnings that people sometimes use to bludgeon you with the point they’re about to make.
Gimme a break. It’s early, and I’ve just started my first Mountain Dew of the day, so I’m only firing on about four cylinders here.
But apparently no one told the nice people at dictionary.com that old rule about not using the word or a derivative or root of the word to define the word. Because all I got for motivation was “something that motivates,” or similar crap.
But anyway, that’s beside the point. Let’s talk about motivation a little. And not character motivation, although that’s pretty dang important too. But we understand the importance of your character having clear goals and motivations, and if you don’t, go out and buy the book Goals, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. It’s awesome and teaches that stuff way better than I can.
But today (as I begin my third paragraph with the same word because I’m a bad writer, if moderately amusing) I want to talk about our motivations. Why do we write? What do we need in order to write? What makes us write?
My friend Jay laughs every time he hears me say, “I get motivated every month when the mortgage is due.” But it’s true. Part of my motivation to write is to pay my bills. This is my job, just like somebody else’s job is to rotate tires, or pilot a nuclear submarine, or perform open-heart surgery.
Just to be clear, those three jobs should be performed by three distinct individuals. I don’t expect any one person to have to rotate tires, drive a sub, and perform surgery. Two out of three, maybe, but not everything.
Anyway, money is one of my motivators, but it’s possibly the worst motivator for writing. I’ve learned that in the six months since I left my day job to become a full-time writer. I found that wanting to make enough money to live on so I could quit my day job was a pretty good motivator, but it’s not quite the same thing. So now I motivate myself to tell great stories. In some cases I’m motivated to finish a story so I can see the end of it. In some cases I’m motivated to continue a story so I can see what happens next. In some cases I’m motivated to finish a sequel so y’all will stop emailing me about it J. That last one’s a lie; I never want fans to stop emailing me.
I’m fortunate in that I am something of a self-starter and am learning how to motivate myself. How to kick my own butt out of bed and away from the Netflix machine and Grey’s Anatomy reruns (seriously, have they all slept together? No spoilers, I’m only on Season 4) to get to the keyboard and get my word count in.
But some people aren’t. Some people need a community of writers to make that happen. And for them, I present NaNoWriMo. November is National Novel Writing Month, an arbitrary declaration that the people behind the NaNoWriMo project picked. As I understand it, the goal is to write 50,000 words in one month. That’s the minimum acceptable length for a “novel” in some genres.
No, I don’t know who accepts submissions of 50K manuscripts except for romance publishers, but that’s not the point. The point is that the program urges people to write, it urges people to write every day, and it awards the people that write, with no judgment on quality. Which is exactly what some people need to get through the first draft. NaNo isn’t about churning out a publishable book; it’s about putting your butt in the chair and pounding at the keyboard for a month. It’s not about turning out the most awesome book in the world; it’s about being consistent and developing a work ethic. It’s not about getting a book published, it’s about moving from the 99% of people who say “I’ve always wanted to write a book” into the .0001% of people who say “I’ve written a novel.”
So if you find yourself short on motivation this November, go ahead and give NaNoWriMo a whirl. Writing something is better than writing nothing, so get off your butt and write something! I’ll tell you what – I’ll do it myself. I’ve never done a NaNoWriMo novel, but this year I will write a novel in the month of November. My word count has been slacking since Dragon*Con, so I’ll jump in and track my progress over on my website. I have no idea what I’m going to write, but I’ve got a week to figure that out. It should be entertaining at the very least.
Just remember – your NaNo novel is not good. It is a first draft, and like all first drafts it is loved, but flawed. Please do not join the countless hordes that turn December into CraNoSubMo (Crappy Novel Submission Month). NaNo is an exercise, and like all exercises, you’re allowed to have poor form. That’s kinda the point.
If you want to join me and the bazillion other people doing NaNoWriMo, here’s a freebie offer for even more motivation – Any Magical Words reader who writes 50K words (or more) in the month of November gets a free Bubba the Monster Hunter ebook (my choice)! Just write a bunch, then email me to let me know you’ve hit 50,000, and I’ll send you an ebook.