See this? That's my kitchen floor after lunch yesterday. The photo doesn't do justice to the scope of the mess Thing 1 and Thing 2 created. There were noodles covering about a five foot radius (I am not exaggerating). It took me 45 minutes to clean up. The best part? I had just mopped less than 24 hours before. My clean floor was a disaster once again.
They're in that phase where they refuse to let me feed them but they don't quite get all the food in their mouths when they do it themselves. They can't use utensils yet (though they try). Thing 1 also has this quirk where he picks up a bite and throws it on the floor, picks up another and eats it, then picks up a third and throws it on the floor. He picks and chooses what bites to actually consume. He'll also spit out whatever he's eating and throw that on the floor if something more appealing is presented to him. The result is a giant mess.
It's hard to find the motivation to clean when I know it's just going to look like a train wreck minute mere hours after all my hard work. Sometimes--like yesterday--I wonder, "Why do I even bother?"
I think writing is a lot like this. It's hard to be motivated to write when I feel like the first draft will just be a train wreck. Sometimes, I feel like the twins. I want to write. I have the desire to write. But sometimes I doubt my ability to write. I frequently feel like I'm feeding myself by hand and making a huge mess on the floor because I don't quite know how to use the proper tools yet. And that kills my motivation. I don't want to spend hours doing something that's just going to end up in the trash. I don't want to waste my time if I'm not good enough.
The comparisons don't end there. New ideas pop up, and therefore they become more enticing. Like my son, I want to spit out what I'm working on in favor of something else. That leaves my hard drive riddled with half-finished projects.
While writing, I also have a problem with thinking, "Will this scene even be in the book in three months?" It's hard to turn off your inner editor while writing the first draft. And it's hard to write knowing things will end up getting cut. Editing feels a lot like picking and choosing which bites the reader will devour, and tossing the rest on the floor.
NaNoWriMo is over, but my novel isn't. I really want to make one last great push and finish the first draft of Wishing on Baby Dust by the end of the year. The problem isn't time; I can make time. It's motivation. Right now, writing feels a lot like work. I'm at a hard place in the book, where all the characters are hurting. I'm exhausted from NaNo. I would rather sit around and watch TV. I'm tired. Those excuses aren't working for you? No problem; I've got more.
But ultimately, all those excuses don't matter, because none of them serve my end goal: to publish this novel. So how do you overcome problems of motivation? My kids aren't old enough to understand bribery yet, but if they were you can bet I'd use it. I think it works for adults just as well as children.
So bribe yourself. Find ways to motivate yourself. Maybe denying yourself something until you've met your goal--like that new book you've been dying to read--works for you. Maybe rewording yourself works--you can read one chapter of that new book for every chapter you write. Maybe it's something else entirely. Find what works for you, and use it to boost your motivation and increase your productivity.
Me? I'm more into the rewards than punishments. When I finish this novel, my hubby is going to take me on a date, sans kids, and I am going to order whatever I want off the menu. :)