Motivation. Literally, that which impels us to move. That’s how we use the word: the feeling that makes us act—in that order: feeling, then action.
Motivation is also created by action. Ask anyone who has grudgingly started a project only to discover that going through the motions ends in motivation.
You’ve felt it yourself when taking on some new business, relationship, spirituality, or personal development challenge. Eventually you hit what Seth Godin calls the dip. We all have days where it’s hard to get going, to stay focused. Often it just takes a little push to get through the dip. Sometimes though, that off day turns into an off week or an off month. Instead of the upward spiral of motivation and action, we’re stuck. We need motivation to create action but need action to create motivation and we get nowhere.
It’s easy to lose track of why you wanted to be a writer in the first place. If you have vague dreams of fame or fortune, those won’t keep you going, especially when they don’t materialize quickly.
While we’d all love to be rich and famous, I don’t think that’s why you write. It’s not why I write.
I write because I love the feel of words. I write because I have feelings which are clarified only when I find words to put them in. I have ideas which might benefit others. I have questions.
I believe writing takes the vague, wandering abstracts out of my head and makes them clear, understandable things I can look at and play with. I believe it helps me decide whether they should remain part of my life or be forgotten in the drawer.
There’s a task I’ve been putting off. Nobody involved is complaining, but no one is served by my delays.
I finally started it a few minutes ago and realized that my reticence has not been because the task is hard, it’s because it bears a big responsibility. This work has to be right for the book to look its best.
But I can do that. I do good work. I’ve been putting this off because of a vague sense of challenge. It wasn’t until I recognized precisely what the challenge was that I realized hey, I can do this.
Identifying why you’re delaying is sometimes all it takes to get on the ball.
I’m going to indulge myself today and write about music.
What, exactly, does the bass player do in most bands?
Lead vocalist? Easy. Singer makes the song. Guitarists? Still easy. Guitars, whether they’re playing chords behind the singer, or playing a solo with its own melody, make sense to the average listener. Keyboards? Same thing. Chords, played rhythmically, or solos, are part and parcel of what we expect in modern music. Drums? They’re that driving beat or subtle accent. Anyone can see what drums do. (While I’m thinking of musician jokes: What do you call someone who’s always hanging around with musicians? Their drummer. Ba-dump-bump.)
But what about the guy or gal playing one note at a time on, well, another guitar, but with not-quite-enough strings?
I’m conducting a little experiment with my videos. Clearly, most people watch the videos and, despite a direct request for this information, never comment on what else they’d need to get their book written. People don’t watch a video and think about writing.
After chatting with one of my prospective clients yesterday I realized I need to take my own advice. Rather than writing a book about the mechanical stuff, I need to write the why. It needs to help aspiring writers analyze their reasons for writing a book so they’re writing the right book, and have enough fire to make them do the work.
You can learn the mechanics anywhere; as my geek friends say, Google is your friend.
Only one place you can learn your why: your own head. I can help with that. I hope the book does just that.