Posted On June 4, 2014 by Print This Post

Handsome Hansel – Motivate Motivate Motivate

Help me welcome back Handsome Hansel of Dance of Romance. Today HH is talking about motivation in writing – how easy it is to lose, and how to get it back!

No one ever said writing was easy. Even for those of us who think it’s a rather easy thing to do.

My problem of late has been finding the motivation to even write. An odd place to be for me because in the past that has never really been an issue. I have always felt the NEED to write. To let it out. Get it off my chest. Wring the thoughts from my mind until they’ve dripped and saturated the empty sheets in front of me. Then a couple of months ago I ran smack into the brick wall we all endear as “writer’s block”.

I was naive to believe that writer’s block was when you had your characters stuck in a story and didn’t know how to play (plot) things any further. You sat staring at your computer screen puzzling plausible scenarios in an effort to move the story forward. If you couldn’t, you poured yourself another stiff drink and POOF! in about fifteen minutes you became the greatest writer who ever lived and watched as your fingers pounded out the solution to your character’s conundrum.

That isn’t what I’ve been up against lately. Turns out, writer’s block has an evil twin…lack of motivation. Not just to write but getting your characters to do anything interesting at all.

I walked away from writing due to life getting in the way a few months ago. I had exhausted myself with finishing my first book and, while I had a couple of others in the works, decided to step away for a little bit from writing. I knew I would miss it terribly but I felt it best. For me it was like spending a long vacation with extended family. You love ‘em and it seemed like a good idea at the time but now you need some time to yourself and once the fog clears you’ll learn to enjoy their company again.

Well my fog had cleared and my intention was to throw myself back into one of my WIPs. When I fired up my iMac and called up the file here’s what I saw:

My leading lady was sitting on her bed eating Fruit Loops straight from the box while filing her nails and watching Seinfeld reruns. Her room was a mess and I was pretty sure she’d gained a few pounds but I wasn’t about to say anything. After-all, it was my fault for having left her alone for so long with nothing else to do.

Her antagonist ex-bff had apparently joined the ranks of the local brothel in an effort to get some quick cash to live off of since I had rendered her unemployed for the last six months.

The hero the story centers around was leaning against the left-hand margin nervously smoking a cigarette and between drags managed to angrily ask, “Where the hell have you been?!”

“Sorry! I had things I had to take care of. Real life people who needed me. I didn’t think you would mind.”I reach for my Gentleman Jack thinking it’s time to pour another then realize it’s best to leave the bottle where it’s at.

“Well Mr. Fancy-Pants Author, we’ve been in limbo with nothing to do and nowhere to go while you were out living your life.”He drops the cigarette butt onto my desktop before continuing, “We thought we meant something to you.”

Screw it. I pour myself two fingers and stare at the screen of my iMac. He’s right. I’d abandoned them and now they resent me for it. I decide to return to the beginning of their story and remind myself why I stopped.

Sure enough, I get to the point where I had left them and I see why they’re pissed. My leading lady had just confronted her ex-bff in a nightclub about trying to seduce the hero away from her. While they are arguing they both receive a text message from the hero. Of which I had no clue to what the text messages said. I had left it with both girls glancing at their phones realizing he had texted them both but unsure of what he said to each of them.

I remembered why I had stopped writing further. I wasn’t happy with the scenario. It seemed contrived and a little too Gossip Girl-ish. I wanted something a bit more sophisticated but had NO idea what that could be, so I bolted.

I sat back in my chair for a few moments and gathered my thoughts before completely scrapping the last two chapters I had written. Feeling a little bit better, I began hammering out a new scene involving my leading lady. And….nothing. She didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Turns out six months of Fruit Loops and comfy clothes begets a very unmotivated character. She had become content with how I left her. Of course it wasn’t just her but me as well. I had lost our momentum as a team.

Since I walked away from writing I had lost the motivation I needed to light a fire under my characters to do what I needed them to do. Because I had lost my way within their story I too was unmotivated to keep going. I gave up. Not an easy thing to admit to but I did. I knew I could get my characters there again if I just pushed myself first.

I forced myself to edit the chapters I had written as if it were a finished book. I discovered during that process the direction I was heading and the roads I intended to take with my characters. I am sure that being a pantser doesn’t help in these situations. If I was a plotter and an outliner perhaps it would have been a lot easier remembering the intended path of my characters.

I’m happy to say that a few weeks back into writing and I have whipped my characters back into shape and they are eager to see where I lead them. It’s not easy finding your motivation some days when it comes to writing. It’s even harder to motivate your characters when you’re just not feeling it.

HH

 

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What do you do to motivate yourself through a difficult time in your writing?

Join us on Friday for Donna Cummings Are YOU the Writer’s Block?

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Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.

I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at http://thedanceofromanceonline.com

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Handsome Hansel

Discussion

10 Responses to “Handsome Hansel – Motivate Motivate Motivate”

  1. I love this post, HH. Makes me wonder what the characters all those incomplete WIPs “under the bed” will say when I finally return to them. ;-)

    Sometimes it is really hard to get motivated to write. For me, that occurs most frequently when I’ve pantsted (yep, I said it) myself into a corner and I have no clue how to get out of it.

    Posted by Reese Ryan | June 4, 2014, 8:35 am
  2. Story of my life. LOL.

    Reading motivates me to write. That probably sounds crazy, but it works for me. It recharges my creative battery and gives me the push I need to sit my butt in the chair and figure out the problem (or murder my characters altogether and start over.

    Posted by Tamara Hunter | June 4, 2014, 11:25 am
  3. Oh, yes. This is exactly what I needed to read today! Glad I’m not the only one this happens to.
    I think I equate some of what happens to us when we stop writing for a bit to muscle atrophy. Just like muscles, the writing skill gets weakened when we don’t use it, and needs to be worked out regularly to stay strong. Whenever I don’t write for a while I really have to force myself to even make it to a hundred word those first couple of days back. But then each day it gets a little easier to get that writing mojo going.
    Love this post HH! Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

    Posted by Amy Denim | June 4, 2014, 11:34 am
  4. Well, well, well. So, it has happened to you, eh?

    I’m happy you have your mojo back. And are back. I hope it sticks. But, on the other hand, you shouldn’t force you or your characters. Sometimes, it is okay to step back, for all parties concerned. Writers block or not. Lack of motivation or not.

    And there is always a muse one can use. :)

    Posted by Soraya E. | June 4, 2014, 12:51 pm
  5. HH,

    There’s nothing more terrifying than facing a blank screen or limping along in a story that doesn’t have legs. But even if you’re not sitting in front of the keyboard, you’re still writing in your head, reworking the crap scene or creating new ones. Reading a good book, going through old manuscripts, and watching movies gives me the much needed kick in the pants.

    Your post reminds me of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s quote…”A goal without a plan is just a dream.” Writers are dreamers but having a plan is what makes us writers.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | June 4, 2014, 1:11 pm
  6. My characters get up to bad things too – especially since with ADHD I have several projects going at once and once accidentally wrote the same story (main event-wise) twice. Life does interfere (try a child with cancer) but don;t make my mistake! Always told myself – when I retire—- well – it’s a lot harder to write when you are in your 70s! I am beating out a schedule of what to do each day and talking the beagles into allowing me time at the iMac. Feisty characters – you gotta love them.

    Posted by Donnamaie White | June 4, 2014, 2:16 pm
  7. Afternoon HH..

    Glad to have you back!

    I’ve been blocked since nano….nothing is up there. My characters have moved to Alaska, the plot line is gone, pfft. Life interfering with my imagination. Hate that.

    Hoping to get back on board myself soon – but realistically, I’m betting a few more months yet before I’m going to feel ready….

    Take care my friend

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | June 4, 2014, 2:30 pm
  8. Oh yeah. THIS is what I’ve been dealing with. NOT writer’s block, just a sort of “why bother?” miasma that’s been fogging my brain. I’m hoping it was just a side effect of winter blues, which hit like a Mack truck this year.

    Your post was an eye-opener. Thank you!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 4, 2014, 2:42 pm
    • This post and your comment was a great eye-opener for me. I’m in the “why bother” mode as well. Now if only I could figure out how to care again and write. At least I’m not alone. TY for sharing, Becky.

      Posted by Mercy | June 5, 2014, 3:44 pm
  9. Hansel, this is such a timely post! I’m about 2 thirds through a first draft and I find myself in a similar situation. My characters are hanging around, waiting for me, and I don’t really care. Unfortunately I’m a plotter, too! At least that means that I know where I’m supposed to end up. It’s just getting there that could be tricky…

    Posted by Laura Medlock | June 5, 2014, 3:01 am

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