March 25, 2010

Disappointment as a motivator

I am revising per my critique partner Rachel's (very thankfully thorough) notes and the agent from the conference's notes on my first 10 pages. Where are you with your WIP right now?

I've been thinking about what motivates me:
  • My passion for writing
  • Disappointment in myself if I don't finish
  • My family's disappointment in me if I don't finish
2/3 of my motivators are disappointment, which stems from fear. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think, I won't be worthy of other people's good opinions of me if I don't finish my book. And what is worse, I fear, I won't be worthy of my own opinion of myself if I don't finish.

I'm a doer. I make things happen. I have a strong work ethic. I feel that's the truth. I feel my family believes that of me, too.

If I don't finish, I'll have failed to meet those expectations. And trust me, the majority of the expectations I think my family have of me exist only in my head. I know they would be disappointed if I gave up, but their opinion of me would not be nearly as harsh as I imagine. In reality, Bear and my family support and believe in me in ways most people could only dream of.

But people having faith in you is scary. It means you could disappoint them, and you don't want to disappoint people who have such strong faith in you. It's a bit of a vicious cycle, especially if you are setting goals that are beyond your control.

And that's the wonderful thing about my goal - it hangs on my finishing (as in, having an agent-ready manuscript and querying) - not my being published.

Many times rejection is not based on your ability, talent, or finished product, but personal taste, trends, economics, timing, and a bajillion other factors that are completely beyond your control.

So I'm comfortable with my goal because completing it is up to me and me alone. Only I can disappoint myself in this endeavor. Only I can disappoint my family. Not an agent or publishing house. Me.

It's all up to me, and therefore, I know in my heart that I will rise to the occasion and disappoint neither myself nor my family.

But I'll tell you one thing...

The fear keeps me on my toes.

What motivates you? Is disappointment a factor?

7 comments:

Joseph Rooks said...

Book recommendation:

"Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us," by Dan Pink.

Also read his previous book, "A Whole New Mind."

Kayeleen said...

I am motivated by the fact that I love writing. And also, I want to have something I can feel proud of. I'm not a quitter. I'm a finisher. And I deserve to feel like I can do something amazing.

The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

Oh my, your outlook intimidates and awes me. And I'm throwing it out now, if you ever need a 'pep talk,' it's kind of my vocation. Just in case you feel swallowed alive by your fear of disappointing, as I most certainly would.

And yet, it's awesome that you are a doer. It's the hallmark of an admirable brand of confidence.

In answer to your question: to be honest, I don't need motivation to write. I'm not motivated by love of it, or passion for it, or need to see my story out there. I need to scrape up motivation to do everything else in life. Writing is just part of who and what I am.

Erik said...

I wish I were a doer...

Southpaw said...

It's funny I never really thought about what motivates me. I just write because it makes me happy.

Krispy said...

I have a huge fear of disappointing people, and that tends to keep me on my toes too. It's amazing that you turn it into such potent motivation though. Sometimes it works like that for me; other times, I crumble under the pressure. :P

I definitely wish I was more of a doer, and I'm working harder to be that way. I just have a very bad tendency towards procrastination.

Abby Stevens said...

Joe - thank you for the recommendation! I will check it out. :-)

Kayeleen - I agree 100%. I want something concrete (a finished manuscript in hand) to feel proud of. You do deserve to feel like you can do something amazing, and I know you can do it!

Blue - (should I call you Blue? Your first name? What do you prefer?) It's kind of funny to hear you say my outlook is intimidating. Most of the time I feel like I am just barely climbing a very steep mountain. I try to remember that even a baby step every day will get me to the top eventually! I may just take you up on that pep talk one day.

Sometimes I wish I could be the way you are - so many writers simply breathe it, but I'm just not one of them. I'm definitely a writer second (to what, I'm not sure... lol). I see it as a passion, but more of a career I am passionate about rather than a way of life.

Southpaw - Sometimes introspection can really trip us up... if you've never thought of it, it's probably a good thing.

Krispy - I definitely have my days where I feel like a total failure. I don't think having strong motivation protects us from that - what I think motivation does is make us get up the next day after a very bad one and keep going. And oh boy am I a procrastinator. I don't think being a doer and being a procrastinator are mutually exclusive. You can be (and many of the very best writers I've met online are) both!

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