The Compelling Key To Motivation for Writers

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Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to turn your attention to some task, and just do it? No hesitancy, no obstacles, no self-doubt, no excuses? Discover this compelling key to motivation for writers.

We all face internal resistance. We want to act, but there is a little demon within each of us that floods our minds with uncertainty, and we take minimal action or no action at all.

Sadly, it has been my observation that this resistance to creative action starts in childhood.  All children are massively original, but parents and teachers don’t pay attention to their proud works, criticize it or grade it.  Children begin to doubt their ability, and resistance to creative action becomes a significant feature of their life that lasts into adulthood. Artist Pablo Picasso put it this way: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

You can overcome creative resistance by retraining yourself through the process of motivation.

Three Kinds of Motivation

There are three kinds of motivation, or at least what people think serves as motivation. They are:

  • Passive
  • External
  • Internal

Let’s look at each of these.

Passive Motivation

Compelling Key To Motivation for Writers - passive

Passive motivation is when people think inspiration comes in some passive way, like “waiting for the Muse to speak.” When you are not a motivated writer, you can always blame the Muse for not talking to you.

That, and saying, “I have writer’s block” are two legendary ways of saying, “I’m a lazy person, so I’ll just be passive and wait for the Muse or the Universe—or whatever—to speak to me.”

Over the years, I have come to believe that so-called “Writer’s Block” is an invention of writers who need to add drama to their lives. I discuss all of this in detail here.

So-called passive motivation is not motivation at all. It is excuse-making. It is certainly not a key to perpetual motivation.

External Motivation


Compelling Key To Motivation for Writers - externalExternal motivation is when you depend on some outside influence to motivate you to write. You look for some reward outside yourself to keep you going. Of course, history is filled with authors who needed “rewards” like alcohol and drugs to fuel their writing careers. That’s external motivation at its worst.

Stephen King said he was in such an alcoholic and cocaine-induced haze that he doesn’t remember writing Cujo.

You may think you need this kind of motivation is cool, but think again. It’s tragic, really. King said he did dope because of his fear and anxiety. He thought he’d lose his creative spark if he got sober.

Many writers suffered by using alcohol and drugs as a motivational tool. Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson, two modern, successful authors, were big boozers and they both used guns to blow out their own brains.

Will alcohol or other drugs motivate you? Not really. You’ll need to feed your addiction, so you’ll probably lose interest in writing.

There are more subtle forms of external motivation that are less likely to destroy your life.

  • For example, you may promise yourself the piece of pie in your fridge if you complete 500 words.
  • You may allow yourself to watch your favorite TV program or a movie if you meet your writing goal. Or deny yourself pleasure if you miss your target.

These are examples of external motivation. You bribe yourself to take action. You have little joy in writing that you must reward yourself with some kind of dangling carrot.

External motivation works sometimes. But often it doesn’t. Sometimes these types of external motivation get in the way of genuine motivation. Again, this type of motivation is not key to perpetual motivation.

Internal Motivation

Compelling Key To Motivation for Writers - internalInternal (inner) motivation is the gold standard. Nothing is better than inner motivation. It’s not a trick or technique or a temporary inspiration like you get from a motivational speech or article.

What is this inner motivation? It’s the white-hot heat of your inner desire. Everyone has a tiny spark of motivation within them—that’s why you’re reading this.

When you have this internal motivation, you’re not like that railroad engine climbing the hill you probably read about in the child’s story. That engine kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  That’s more terrible mental conditioning for children like I mentioned before. It plants a seed of doubt. Kids naturally think they can, but parents and teachers are always signaling that they do not measure up to expectations. Kids “hope they can,” but the fear of failure is embedded early.

Internal motivation is different. Internal motivation does not say, “I think I can.” Internal motivation says, “Hot damn, I got this. Everyone stand back and let me do my thing.”

You must fan the spark of creativity within you into a wildfire. Inner motivation is a wildfire of desire.

Maintaining Internal Motivation

How do you get that kind of motivation as a writer? Inner motivation comes when your thought processes work for you, not against you.

Remember, thought processes are happening inside your brain, not outside. Part of that process is the pain and pleasure receptors in your brain.

You settle for the excuse-making that comes with passive motivation or the stimulation you get from external motivation because there is more pain for you in writing than pleasure.

Weird? Yes. But true.

You need to get a hefty dose of what you perceive to be pleasure to kill what you have been taught to think is the pain of writing. That’s the core cause of the resistance you feel. Passive and external motivation used by writers are nothing more than pain-killers.

Compelling Key To Motivation for Writers - pleasure balance

Internal motivation is perpetual when you get more pleasure than pain from writing. It is the pleasure of creating that sustains us all. It is up to you to change your own inner balance point. It is the most compelling key to motivation for writers.

Your motivation to write, or accomplish anything else in life, becomes an inner primal drive. It’s like the ones all humans have for food and sleep, a sense of safety, friendships and sexual intimacy, a sense of purpose—and then self-actualization—the fullness of who you are as a person.

These are all things within us—and we must include motivation in this. It is not external. If inner motivation is not primal to you, you must change that.

To fan your spark of motivation and turn it into a raging fire, you start associating good feelings with your writing or other tasks.

Writing is a joy when you do it right. It’s easy to have a high level of motivation when you have joy in your work.

Reprogram your thoughts. Think differently by exercising an act of your will. Change your mental and emotional state of being. As you write, surround yourself with

  • Positive thoughts and self-talk
  • Pleasant fragrances
  • Music that’s not loud or angry
  • Pictures of people and places you love
  • Anything thing else that brings you joy

That’s how you build and reinforce your internal motivation. It is not a matter of, “I have to force myself to get this done.” You say, “My creativity brings me joy and nothing can stop me from expressing it.”

Find the Joy to Maintain Motivation

In summary, let me say that if joy is at the core of your motivation, you’ll have the focus and determination you need to succeed. That is the key to perpetual motivation.

Sure, there all sorts of external influences. Money is a big motivator, isn’t it? But that can’t be the core of your motivation. You must change your thought processes, your brain chemistry so that you act from the motive of joy. Allow yourself to be surprised by joy.

Would you like to learn more about motivation? I have a discounted entertaining, educational online course you can take.


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