Lately, it seems I’ve been losing steam, and have had trouble keeping up with writing deadlines. The motivation just isn’t there. It’s the common condition that writers dread — writer’s block.
Earlier this year, I wrote a Goodreads blog post / rant about writer’s block. I noted different writing strategies to consider. However, while jotting down thoughts and writing spontaneously can be great, it doesn’t take into account common psychological aspects. Sometimes the trouble is more than coming up with words. Sometimes motivation is being smothered by an internal force — self-efficacy, or rather, the absence thereof.
At this time in my academic career, I’m taking a human relations class, and I’m being forced to probe inward. Previously, I took an intro to psychology course, which also prompted some self-reflection, but it wasn’t so poignant. I was able to identify why I should get to sleep on time (circadian rhythm tendencies), how to utilize positive and negative reinforcement and punishment (e.g. if you add a stimulus, you may increase a particular behavior [positive reinforcement])… all wonderful concepts, but now I’m forced to confront things I hadn’t considered much before.
One of those things is my tendency to procrastinate. Procrastination is a many non-splendored thing — a close cousin to writer’s block. Procrastination and I are terribly familiar. We’ve danced one too many times, until it’s become a pervasive condition. I delay book releases, homework, language studies, meditation (specifically, time with God), service projects, and any number of other things. Anything that can be delayed, I tend to delay.
Alors… (fr. So…) the question is, how to confront this condition?
I’ve tried asking others to keep me accountable (e.g. “tell me to write, if I get online!”), but that only works for as long as they remember, and I may just avoid getting online where that person will be. Therefore, this strategy is terrible for me, with only a partial success rate. But this is bound to work better for some than for others.
One surprising boon to my motivation is list-making. I’m an INFP personality. Organization and I don’t usually mesh. I like clutter (except in my bookshelf!)… But forcing myself to schedule things out, and compile a task list (on my smart phone, with notifications), serves to keep my priorities in mind. So long as these priorities are scheduled within a reasonable time frame (e.g. not three days for finishing a big writing project, but perhaps two weeks), I have better confidence to finish them.
Also, ensuring my motivations are clearly linked with primary life goals (e.g. becoming an established author), is key.
Another way I’m motivating myself is to increase the urgency of meeting deadlines, and hey, readers benefit as well! This time, the motivator is a giveaway. For an unspecified period, The Detective Games: #1 – Trial by Firefight eBook will be given away at Lulu.com, the iBookstore and on the NOOK! And the next installment The Detective Games: #2 – Beyond Chivalry should see a release in early May, with the giveaway ending sometime around then.
Thanks for reading, and stay strong against writer’s block!
~ Zechariah Barrett