There have been nights when my poor husband Danny has come home from work and found me in the same position as when he left; still stooped over my keyboard. After promising to finish in a few more minutes, I have often typed for another hour. Giving up on being served a home cooked meal, he sauntered across the kitchen and opened the empty refrigerator.
“Were you planning on eating tonight?” he asked politely while staring at the empty shelves. What he really means is, “When are you planning to go to the grocery store so we can have a proper meal?”
I get so absorbed with writing that I forget to check the time and the day slips away.
Some would say that I have found my passion, but I think there has to be an internal combustion engine driving that passion called motivation. When I looked up the word “motivate,” I found the definition:
(v.) to provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.
Impel? Another verb: 1. to drive or urge forward; press on; incite or constrain to action. 2. to drive or cause to move onward; propel.
Ooh! I really liked the synonyms: inspire, stimulate, encourage, persuade, provoke, arouse, influence, and prompt.
It occurred to me that since I began writing earlier this year, I’ve had no problem motivating. But what motivated me? What is the secret potion that keeps me banging away on my keyboard for hours every day? I deduced that the key ingredient in the concoction likely included an emotion. I posted a simple question on Facebook and Twitter. “What motivates you? Anger, fear, or joy?” The wide range of answers included, “My wife!” (Would that be fear?)
When our family visited Williamsburg, Virginia, we attended a living history tour and learned that the Revolutionary War headed up by gallant George Washington began with anger over English bureaucracy. George was disgusted by pigs that ran wild and fouled the water in Winchester, Virginia. He wrote legislation which was passed in the Lower House then in the Upper House. It was sent to the Governor and then carried by ship to the King of England. More than a year later, the “Clean Water Bill” was signed and the townspeople penned up their pigs. It’s a good thing that George was motivated by anger. If our founding fathers hadn’t gotten pissed off about pigs (among other things), we could be still under the power of the English Crown.
Personally, I don’t motivate well when angry. My frontal lobe is activated which shuts down my creative energy and reasoning power – and it is not an attractive look for me!
Fear has motivated many over eons. After all, fight or flight is the most basic human instinct. If my only goal was to blog and build a writer’s platform I would say that I was fearless. However, I exude a healthy amount of fear every time I think I may not finish my book. It motivates me to turn off the internet and set a total word goal for the day.
This brings me to joy. -Ah joy! It’s my favorite of all motivators. I really enjoy writing and expressing all of the crazy ideas that used to float around aimlessly in my head. As an artist and illustrator I have found pleasure in this new way to create. In place of a paintbrush or ink to capture an emotion through a portrait or landscape, I use words. I find descriptive expression through characters in a story to be as vivid as any painted canvas.
Understanding what motivates us is important in order to define the right conditions for accomplishing our goals. Read the newspaper’s political commentary if anger inspires you. Set goals so there is a deadline looming and fear will nip at your heels. Pour yourself a full cup of coffee, sit down near a window and allow your imagination to run wild. Let joy embrace you.
Just remember to go to the grocery store once in a while!
Now it is your turn to vote. Explain your choice in the comment section and then stop back later in the week when I post the winner!
My son Kelly and Danny role played in the living historical tour about “Pigs Gone Wild”
All photos by S. Lindau
A special thank you to Juleigh Muirhead Clark from the Williamburg Library for the Pig Law link.