Copyright © 2003 by Marisa Montes. All rights reserved.
Motivation and Muse, Defined
The most important step toward becoming a writer, is to actually write. It doesn't matter what you write or where you write as long as you write. If you want to become a professional writer, that is, if you want to publish, you need to take another step: you need to share your writing with others. You can share it with your family or a good friend or your writing teacher, but if you quit there, you'll never be published. So the next big step after sharing it with others, is to make sure your manuscript is as polished as it can be, and submit it. Entering your manuscript in a contest, for example, is a perfect way to prepare yourself and your work for submitting it to a publisher.
Writing is a profession that has some unique characteristics. First, it's a lonely job because you don't usually write with someone else (unless you're co-authoring or writing for TV sitcom). And second, it's one of the few jobs in which rejection is actually applauded by your fellow writers. Not because it means that if your manuscript didn't get accepted, maybe theirs will have a better chance. But because it means that you are taking the right steps, you're putting yourself out there, you're submitting your work. And without submitting, your work will never be seen by publisher, and it never have a chance to be published. So when you tell a non-writer that you got another rejection, that person will probably say, "Aw, that's too bad!" But when you tell a writer that you got another rejection, the writer will probably say, "Good job! Way to go, guy! You go, girl! Keep up the good work!"
But if this is a lonely profession filled with tons of rejection, how you keep up your spirits so that you can continue writing? How you keep yourself from getting so depressed that you have to be propped up in a corner with a bucket to drool into? How do you keep yourself motivated until you capture your muse, or if your muse is with you, how do you keep yourself motivated so that you can complete your work?
"Motivation" is defined as an inducement or an incentive. It is the carrot that you hold in front of a donkey to make it move forward. It is the fuel in the rocket that launches it into space. It is the flame that lights the fuse on a firecracker that propels it into the sky so that it bursts into hundreds of brilliant lights and colors the way you want your manuscript to be launched into publication so that it will dazzle people with your words. Motivation is the energy, momentum, or desire that propels you forward until you finish and polish each manuscript.
"Muse" is a guiding spirit; a source of inspiration. It is also an idea or a strong urge that drives you to write a story, or in article, or a book.
But which comes first, motivation or the Muse? Maybe, rather than one coming before the other, maybe muse and motivation are intertwined; maybe sometimes they occur simultaneously.
So rather than sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike, waiting for that great idea to hit you and for that idea to give you the motivation you need to write, induce yourself—create your own internal motivation—be your own guiding spirit, your own source of inspiration, be your own Muse. How do you do that?
Conquering Your Demons
First begin by seeking out the motivation killers and conquering your demons:
i. Learn from it; embrace it as an affirmation that you are getting closer to your goal. If you don't experience rejection, it will be difficult for you to relate to other writers. It will be hard to understand their plight, their anguish and feelings of self-doubt. We learn from rejection in many ways. We grow as writers and learn to have patience. Rejections force to rewrite our own material. Every time we rewrite a story gets better. Patience is the key to making a great writer and more the more rejections you get, the more practice you get as well.
ii. The moment your manuscript comes back rejected, send it out again. For each ms you send out, have a list of one or more publishers to send it to if it comes back rejected—then do it immediately! Do NOT wait a day. With this constant flow of manuscripts coming and going it's hard to give a lot of thought to each individual rejection. Instead you're creating momentum and your desire to be published becomes that much stronger.
iii. The best way to deal with rejection is to keep busy. Always have another project going. Always work on another story or article. It helps to soothe the pain of rejection because you have a new focus with a lot of promise.
The Creative Process:
1. There are five steps in the creative process:
a. Step 1: Preparation—You get an idea and gather information about it.
b. Step 2: Frustration—Your project gets stuck. [writer's block]
c. Step 3: Incubation—Your subconscious works on the project.
d. Step 4: Illumination—The A-Ha! moment of insight. [Muse?]
e. Step 5: Translation into Action—You take your insight and put it to work.
2. The creative process uses both sides of your brain: the right, intuitive side and the left, logical side.
3. Step 2, frustration, is probably one of the most important (and most misunderstood) steps of the creative process. When you reach frustration, the project comes to a standstill. When logic doesn't work anymore, you have to rely on your intuition. But because most writers don't realize that this is actually a normal part of the creative process, this is the point where most writers feel like quitting and many actually do quit. This is the point when writers feel that they are experiencing writers block. This is also the point where motivation begins to desert us. But this is also the point when step 3, incubation, begins and your subconscious starts to work on your project. So it's very important to nurture your motivation during these two steps of the creative process.
Nurturing Your Motivation:
Here is a final thought on motivation:
Dim, dim, there is no doubt
If someone blew I would go out
But someone did and I did not,
I must be stronger than I thought.
Copyright © 2011 by Marisa Montes. All rights reserved.