ABNA and What Motivates You to Write?

We’re having a discussion on the writing forum about where creativity comes from, what the sources of each person’s creativity are. For me, it’s mostly dreams… well, maybe not. Sometimes, I’ll get a flash of something in my head, something really innocuous, and it will plant itself in my brain, dig in and really just tear things up until I pay attention to it. Once it’s germinated in my brain for awhile, it usually will find its way back out somehow and into a story or article. Everything, and I do mean everything, inspires me.

But not everything motivates me to actually sit down and write.

For example, the swimming pool right now is looking a little green. A strong gust of wind came through a month or so ago and took every single leaf off the pear tree and deposited it in the pool. We have gone and scooped leaves out of the pool a little bit every day, but it still looks like an entire tree full of leaves exists at the bottom of the pool.

Something niggles at the back of my brain telling me there is a story in that. I just can’t figure out what yet…. so it stays in my brain, bugging me, teasing me, taunting me, but it won’t reveal to me yet what I’m supposed to do with it.

Now, when that happens to me, if it goes like it does in the past, I’ll fall asleep one night and wake up with a dream about it – and the dream will reveal to me what I need to write.

So while dreams aren’t my true source of inspiration, they are usually what motivates me to sit down and write. My, how many mornings I’ve woken in the wee hours seeking my computer because I was compelled, nay possessed, to get the ideas in my brain down.

That’s the flow I love….

What motivates me to write is the obsession. It’s when I’m in that zone, and I begin writing, completely without true planning or conscious thought. Granted, I have to do some editing when I flow like that, but that is my biggest motivator.

Now, I won’t deny – fame, money, bestseller’s lists, prestigious awards – all those things are things I’d like to see happen with my writing one day. They are not, however, what motivates me to write. I know, beyond any doubt, if I never made a penny with my writing ever again, I would still write. What compels me, what motivates me, isn’t money or anything material.

It’s something intangible, indescribable, but very powerful.

So what motivates you to write? Ideas are one thing, but motivation to write really is what sets a writer apart from those who just ‘want’ to write. I know people who get fantastic story/novel ideas, but they never find the motivation to write. Or if they do start writing, they can’t keep the momentum going long enough to finish anything. I was that way for a long time. I would start a lot of stuff and then never finish it. The rush and the excitement of a new project was awesome, but the mundane finishing of a book – boring!

That’s changed for me some now. You’re probably wondering what changed it, huh? No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway.

Finishing my first novel changed it.

Literally for years I had started books and never finished them. Then I’d start another, not finish it. Then another. I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 21 novels started – some only one or two chapters into them – and I hadn’t finished a single book.

After I finished my first novel, though, it was as though something shifted inside of me. Now, I still have moments when I stall, and I still project hop when I get bored or stuck on one project, but I have, since finishing that first novel, had no problem repeating the process.

So if you think it’s frustrating and you haven’t finished your first novel yet, finish it. Just finish it. It will change everything for you as a writer.

Now, ABNA – Amazon Breakout Novel Award. If you have a novel finished or really, really close to finished, you might want to consider entering this contest. It’s hosted by Amazon, their subsidiary CreateSpace, and of course, Penguin – the Penguin Publishing Group to be more exact. The winner gets a five figure advance and a publishing royalty contract and will be published by one of the appropriate Penguin imprints. There are two categories this year too – fiction and young adult fiction. That means there will be two winners – and then, of course, there are semi-finalists and finalists too. See how far your story can go!

I haven’t decided if I’m going to enter. I used to have an aversion to peer-judged contests or popularity ranked contests, but this one seems to prevent fraudulent voting to a certain degree. I realize that once I have a big publishing contract, continuously promoting myself is part and parcel for being a writer, so it’s good ‘practice’ for promotion, right? And perhaps I’ll get some feedback from the actual reading public – they are the ones, after all, who buy the books that make an author a best seller or who don’t buy the books that makes an author flop.

Definitely worth considering. If you enter, good luck! If you don’t, consider really hard why you aren’t entering, and then, if it’s just because you don’t have a story ready – consider making it your goal to finish a novel, perfect it, and have the story ready for next year.

You can do it!

Love and stuff,