Why Motivation May Be The Worst Word (Discipline, Part 2)

For those who don’t know, I am musician (in-training) as well as a writer (in-training).

If I only practiced my instruments when I had motivation, I would be nowhere near as good as I am today. No one would expect a musician to only practice when motivated – we’re expected to practice every day (which I may or may not actually do) regardless.

But a lot of writers only write when motivated.

Waiting for motivation is a horrible way to learn a craft, and writing is a craft. You, as a writer, might not always feel like writing, but letting that keep you from writing will keep you from being a good writer.

A lot of writers have a word count for each day, which helps them stay focused despite whether they are motivated or not. Personally, that doesn’t work for me. Instead, I try to write as much as I can, which works (somewhat) for me but would fail a lot of other writers. The point is, you need to find someway to write, even when you don’t feel like it.

My mom once gave me relationship advice that I think applies here:

You need to marry someone who you both like and love, because there are going to be some days that you don’t like him (or her), and that’s when you love him. And there’s some days you won’t love him, and that’s when you remember you like him. And there are going to be some days that you don’t like or love him, and that’s when you remember you made a commitment. 

Writing, to me, is like that. I like writing, and I love to write, but there are some days where I don’t. That’s when I remember that I started something, and that I’m determined to finish it. That’s when I remember how much I love writing the rest of the time, and how much of a relief it is to get all the plot bunnies running around my head like they’ve had the entire world’s supply of sugar down on paper.

If you want to be a writer, you need to like and love your craft. But you also sometimes have to write even when you don’t.