What Gets You Writing?
It sometimes pays to take things back to basics. So this post is simply about what gets me writing.
I have been thinking about this site, how useful it is to people, and reminiscing on its purpose – why I set it up.
For those who don’t know, it started mainly as a way to get me writing. For a start, I would be writing a post every week. The pressure of knowing the site needed updating, and (hopefully) people had waiting for a post would keep me writing regularly.
I also wanted to help others get writing by sharing what I had learned. Moreover, there would be discussion amongst people who visited the site and sharing of ideas, tips and techniques.
With that in mind, maybe you’d like to get in on the discussion – the comments section is below this post. Perhaps you could encourage your friends to join in too.
The first part – getting me to write every week, has certainly been a success. Get Me Writing has had a post every week (bar one week in Christmas) for the full five years it has been running (not on my own I might add – Craig has helped a great deal, and Dave early on – thanks guys!)
It’s true I may not be writing fiction at all if it weren’t for this blog – I used it as an impetus, and it has encouraged me to keep going.
What Gets me Writing?
So now to the main event! I have learned about myself along the way, including what gets me writing.
These things can loosely be categorised in inspiration, natural motivators (i.e. those things within me that make me want to write), and techniques I employ when I’m not feeling particularly motivated.
The wonderful fire in the mind that begs for escape.
Inspiration is, I suppose, a thing that naturally motivates me to write, and therefore goes in the next section. But it’s a large and diverse enough motivator to warrant its own heading.
Here are some examples:
- Books. Regrettably I do not read enough books.
- The internet. Now here is some reading I do plenty of. I read about all sorts on the internet, but my reading about writing and science tends to inspire the most.
- Restrictions/doing something crazy. I suppose this might be called “playing with the form”. Occasionally I will think of some restriction to place on my writing or some new way of presenting it, which can be incredibly inspirational.
On this blog I wrote about making a story from email spam; I have tried writing in diary form before (like classic horrors such as Dracula; I have had lurking in my mind for a while a story written entirely in toilet reviews, for some reason. I’ll probably never be able to push that one out.
Things that naturally motivate me
I don’t have to force these. They got me writing in the first place.
- Inspiration. See above!
- The creative imperative – That urge to be creative. Creativity has always informed my play – making up adventures, drawing. Even now, though I enjoy some of the stories and characters videogames present, games that allow me to be creative really hook me in.
- The feeling of having written – Sure, this happens afterwards, but knowing how that feels pushes me to write.
- Boredom – This doesn’t happen so much now, but certainly when I was a teen boredom (combined with late nights and tiredness) often led to bouts of impromptu writing.
Techniques for when I’m not feeling motivated
We can’t be bundles of creative energy all the time, but we need to produce the goods!
- Counting words – This naturally falls out of drafting, but I sometimes forget about it. If I know I’ve only a few words to go before I hit a high watermark for the month, that will get me started.
- Goals and milestones – As discussed last week seeing a series of reachable goals laid out can provide a similar kickstart.
- Artificial rewards – To be honest,this plays quite a small part in my motivation. But this is this probably to do with
- lack of discipline (i.e. giving myself the rewards anyway).
- lack of time to enjoy rewards(eg. it’s difficult to promise yourself a two and a half hour film, if you struggle to find that portion of free time).
- The lure of positive feedback – This is noted as “artificial” only because I have to ask for it. But, yes, the knowledge someone may actually like my work and heap praise on it, does motivate me. I am at least a little vain.
- Knowing I only have to do it for 15 minutes – Something I’ve mentioned before and credit to Mur Lafferty (a very useful tip, so maybe tweet it?), although she may have got it from someone else. I tell myself I only have to do it for 15 minutes, and if I really hate it, I can stop. I always go longer though, because starting is the bit I really hate.
Over to you…
It’s good to take a refresher and get back to basics. So what gets you writing? What things naturally make you want to sit down and write, and what do you do to give yourself a kick? Head for the comments below – let’s see if we can build a bigger list.