Anger, Fear, or Joy?

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.

37 thoughts on “Anger, Fear, or Joy?

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  1. Interesting and timely post. Well written and relevant to the political mood in the US. I think there is probably a lot of motivation out there today as a result of NY’s events last night.


  2. Thanks Sheila! We live in interesting times. The prevalence of anger and dissatisfaction in our country is what originally inspired me to write this. The story about our family trip of our founding fathers popped into my head for a lighter touch~


    1. Thank you so much!
      Whenever I start to panic over what I am going to blog about, I get out of the chair and live. The best stories come to me when I am out getting some exercise while enjoying the Colorado sunshine, or running errands!. Then there is always the photo-essay!


  3. I agree with you Suzie. For me it’s the joy. Anger is a powerful motivator too though, and it does sometimes help get the words to come, but I usually end up spending more time revising the long awkward,and rambling sentences…and deleting the plethora of curse words.


  4. Great post, Susie! I am motivated by all three, depending on the day, what else is happening in my life and what stage I’m in with WIP. Boy, do I know the feeling of being at the computer so long I forget to eat, and when I stand up my butt feels like a pancake!


  5. oh my gosh. I just loved this.
    I’m with you–the time just DISAPPEARS when I’m writing. An hour flies by. It’s my passion and my joy to write.
    Sometimes my motives are off, though. I’m not thinking about my readers when I write because: I want to “educate” aka, “rant” about a topic. I want to be famous. I want to get an income. -Those are the three main motives that I struggle against. They can be useful sometimes, when I’m dreaming of the future…but they aren’t good foundational motivations.


  6. I think it comes from any strong emotion, be it joy, anger or sorrow. They all move me to write. I just need to direct it to the right scene. I didn’t know how to take the poll because you didn’t have a button for “all of the above!” 🙂


  7. I used to get so wrapped up in my writing that I’d burn supper. These days I’m more diciplined but it’s definitely the joy of writing a story that keeps me going. Thanks for the wonderful post, Susie!


  8. Fear is not a big motivator for me, because I tend to shut down. I also tend to do the same with anger… Walk away or avoid.
    I went with joy for the same reasons why you said it was your favorite motivator. If I like something, I will find the time to do it… read about it… be inspired by it.
    Great post!


  9. Thanks for a thought provoking post. It seems we are living in times similar to those of Washington. Anger provoked him.

    I don’t write well when angry or afraid. I need to be focused on my intention of the book and the moment. I find what I write and how engrossed I am depends on the book and where I am in the story. beginnings are usually easier for me to get lost in. I hate endings because that means my characters are soon going to leave my live.

    great post. thanks


  10. Thank you Louise! I only write well when I am relaxed and focused. Anger doesn’t suit me either.
    I know what you mean about your characters. I guess that’s why some write sequels.
    Thanks for reading~


  11. Hi Susie, now that I have to choose between the three I’d say Joy is the #1 motivator for me. Although my MCs don’t have much to be joyous about, at the core they are joyous. My antagonists are angry, so I use that energy when acting out their motivations.

    Very thought provoking!


  12. Susie wrote:

    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.

    That — and stories like that — are what motivate me; because that’s the kind of discipline it takes.

    Just incidentally, I was in Boulder last night, at Pasta Jay’s. Did you walk by and wave?


    1. Nope! We were there on Sunday for birthday lunch for my son! You probably saw my body double. Hahaha!
      I wonder if we would recognize each other….If I was in that situation, I probably would have gone inside.

      Slumming in Boulder huh… ; )


    1. Thanks Miss Demure for stopping by!
      Joy and compulsion are good! I would have to admit to a bit of compulsion as well!

      I am using the NaNo meter, but am not doing Nano. It would have been too much pressure and I have too much to keep up with! I probably won’t finish until December.


  13. Such a great post! Joy definitely motivates me, too. My husband told me the other day how cool it is to see that I dig writing…unlike the suffering writers who pain over every thought and word in the movies. LOL Not that our jobs are easy, of course… But I do love the process.

    I also relate to those days where time flies. The sun goes down and hubby comes home to find me in the dark…and loving it all. Have learned the importance of breaks and rest, however! 😉 Thanks for the fab insight!


    1. I am so glad you could relate!
      The only time I wrote something that was really depressing and brought me to tears was about September 11th. I prefer to stick to my 300 sunny days and write dark paranormal stuff with a twist!
      Thanks for reading!


  14. Great post, you and my wife should get together and go bowling…LOL!!! I think you two would get along fantasticly. It was almost as if I were reading something my wife would write.
    I’d like to say that joy is my biggest motivator… but with the anger issues I have, (unfortunately) I seem to get more done when I’m stewing over something that has upset me.


  15. Everyone is motivated differently! I am not clear headed when I am angry so I generally wait a bit before doing anything I may regret.
    That is so cool that I have a writing double out there!!
    Thanks for reading!


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