Friday, March 9, 2012

Motivation and Creativity

Lately I've been trying to motivate myself to start writing again. It's something that's important to me and that I love, but it's also hard work and it's one of the first things that gets pushed to the back burner when life gets out of control, because it's something that doesn't _have_ to happen. But often, the longer I go without writing the harder it is to get back into it, so I find myself trying to come up with elaborate motivational schemes.

My latest thought/scheme has been along the lines of, "If you write and can actually publish something and make some money, adopting again won't be quite such a financial burden and Jacob's more likely to agree to do this again." This is directly related to me not being able to stop looking at all the faces of waiting children and my heart breaking and wishing I could rescue all of them (which, obviously, I absolutely can't). Unfortunately, this was not really a great motivator. I mean, it is in theory, but in reality it failed dismally, as do most of my motivators.

It turns out that adoption is very similar to pregnancy for me in that it does bad things for my creativity. As much as I try to think about my stories, when my mind wanders it pretty much always heads to EE, not to a fantasy world. And I realized this is the problem with almost all of the things I've tried to use to motivate myself -- they're all about the other things I can do if I write (big things like rescuing orphans with the money, or just little things like having more computer time if my writing's done).

It turns out the only motivational techniques that actually work for me are those that are inspired by the actual writing, not by external factors. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to figure that out, but it's a new concept for me, and I've been writing for years. (Apparently, I'm kind of slow. I blame it on having 3 little boys who run me ragged. I used to blame it on having three toddlers, and before that I blamed it on pregnancy. Kids are really good for some things.)

I do know how I came to this realization, though. It came because I had my first sale from my etsy shop this week. (Well, my first completed sale. A friend tried to buy some cards from me a little while back, but I still haven't gotten back to him. I'm sorry, Ben! I promise I'm not deliberately ignoring you! Just, you know, managing to do so anyway, because I'm kind of a crappy friend like that.)

Anyway, back to my etsy sale. The purchaser wanted 16 sets of hair clips, expedited, so I went and got the color ribbon she wanted and then spent a while the next day gluing the ribbon on and finishing them. While I was doing this I realized I probably ought to charge a little more for what my items -- I was making up the materials cost just fine, but not accounting for the time required very well.

I mentioned this to my husband and he said I probably shouldn't up the price yet, because after all, it was my first sale. Most businesses lose money at first, and if I really wanted to make a go of it I should keep my prices low to begin with until I got established.

This conversation kind of freaked me out. I mean, I like making cards and hair clips sometimes. It's nice to have something to do with my hands while I'm watching TV or a movie. And it's nice to make something, complete something, that isn't immediately destroyed (you know, unlike most of my work (laundry, dishes, cooking, picking up toys, etc, etc)). But I only started my etsy shop because I don't need all the cards or hair clips that I make, and it's a way to pay for the supplies I use to make them. This is a satisfying idle pastime for me, not a business. And I freaked out because I realized there's no way I want this to be a business. I like making the stuff sometimes, but not that much, and I don't want to be constantly getting orders and needing to make things for people. I would go crazy.

But it made me realize what I _would_ like to make a business for myself -- writing. The thought of _needing_ to spend my days making cards because I was depending on the income left me almost shaking, but the thought of needing to spend my days writing because I needed the income had me excited. I mean, I've known for a while that I love to write and that I'd like to someday be able to make a career of it, but for the first time the other things involved in making it a career (like marketing, etc) sounded kind of exciting, because they would mean I could spend my days making money by writing!

Apparently this was the motivation I needed, because I picked up my work-in-progress (WIP) that's closest to done and started re-reading so I could work on finishing it. Then I got slightly frustrated that it was taking me so long to read through it, but I stopped before that went to far to think about the reason. I mean, I knew I had almost 70,000 words written, but since I figured this book would end up being about 100K words when I started it I still felt pretty far from the end. But I picked up the novel I'm currently reading and did a quick estimate of word count on it, and a quick estimate of how many pages my WIP would be if it was printed similarly to the book I'm reading -- and guess what? It would be a 250 page book already. No wonder it's taking me a while to read back through it! And that information made me excited -- seriously, I already have 250 pages, I can totally finish this thing!

And so even though this is ostensibly a blog about our adoption, I'll probably start talking about my writing some here, too (at least for now -- maybe sometime I'll start my own writing site, but not yet). Writing's what I'm thinking about today, so that's what I'm writing about. I'm sure I'll talk about adoption again tomorrow, though!

No comments:

Post a Comment