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You Need Motivation Too

Jen here:

Here at Pencildancer, we’ve been following the theme of Goals, Motivation, and Conflict. GMC is writing shorthand for the needed ingredients in a book. We spent January covering goals from different aspects, and now in February, we’re discussing motivation.

While the other Pencildancers are talking about character motivation, I’m talking about your motivation. As a writer, it’s a long, hard slog. There are not a lot of pats on the back along the way. Writing a whole novel takes a long time, not to mention the learning curve. So how do you stay motivated to keep writing?

What’s the why?
One thing I’ve been hearing a lot lately, and pondering myself, is asking why you want to reach this goal. Think about any goal you have. What’s the point in reaching it? What will you feel like when you arrive? Sometimes that’s the thing that will pull you through when you’re down, discouraged, and disappointed.

So why do you want to write this novel? What will you feel like when you’ve finished it? Does it matter if anyone ever reads it? The answers to all of those questions will go toward your motivation.

Find a friend
Just like with many things in life, writing is easier when you have a buddy. Another writer will understand when your hero doesn’t do what you want him to do or you don’t really like your own heroine. They understand the process, the disappointments, and the isolation. And they can help you celebrate your wins, no matter how small, because they know how hard-fought they are. We have that among the Pencildancers, but there is a reason events like NaNoWriMo (writing a novel in a month while a bunch of other people are doing it too) and writers groups like ACFW are so popular. If you don’t have a writer friend, join a writing group to find one.

Reward yourself
Would you work for no paycheck? It depends on the job, but most of us wouldn’t. And while writing isn’t a full-time job for most of us, the process of putting in the time, making progress, and setting goals are all things that deserve to be rewarded. When you structure your goals, make sure you have set milestones that are reachable and can be celebrated. Take a break to reflect on your journey and how far you’ve come. Then reward yourself with whatever makes you feel good: a massage (for those tired shoulders at the computer), clothes, some time to yourself. Or the good old standby: chocolate.

This is the last week to enter the giveaway to win one of four books by the Pencildancers.


Please sign up for our newsletter on the form in the sidebar to the right. You'll be entered in a giveaway to win one of four books by the Pencildancers. Our newsletter subscribers will get special content from us several times a year, including writing tips, notices of giveaways, new releases, and other information we think you will be interested in. As a subscriber, you will have access to all of this information before our blog readers, and some of it will be exclusive to newsletter subscribers. 

Motivation or Get Moving


Diana here:

Motivation is a critical part of your character’s make-up. When you’ve done the fun work, what they look like, what’s their occupation, and favorite food it’s time to create problems for them.
You should have your goals for each character by now. If you don’t, go back and do them.

Here are some posts that will help.


Done?
Good, your character goals are mapped, but what makes them want to achieve them?

Or the writerly term is;
What motivates them?

Think of motivation as movement instead of inspiration. What gets your character off the couch, away from their desk, or off social media?

The power of that motivation has to be strong enough for them to accept challenges beyond their comfort zone.

If your genre isn’t action oriented, this might be a struggle. It’s much easier to be motivated if your child is kidnapped, a murder happened in your kitchen, or you’re being stalked than if your goal is to marry the girl next door.

You need a goal for every scene, that means a motivation for every scene.

Think about yourself for a moment, ask these questions:
What’s a goal you desire?
Why do you want it? (motivation)
You’ll know you are on the right track when you begin the answer with BECAUSE.

Because your character wants to have a family
Because your character wants to save her best friend.
Because your character because she wants to save her home.
Motivation is the carrot that hangs out there urging your character toward completing the goal.

Let’s break it down.
We’ll use the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, starring Kate Hudson.

Goal: finish the article on losing a guy in ten days that works in real life to win a bet with her boss

Motivation: she will get to write substantial stories that make a difference
Andie Anderson, the character she is willing to become someone else to win the bet BECAUSE she no longer wants to write fluff articles.

That’s a powerful motivation. It doesn’t involve bullets, kidnappings or stalkers. She goes against her sophisticated nature to being manipulative, almost insane, to get what she wants. 

It may not look like motivation when she puts women’s products in her boyfriend’s bathroom cabinet but it is BECAUSE she hopes it will get him to break up with her within the time limit set by her editor.

Tweet this: Motivation is the BECAUSE in your hero's life.
Tweet this: Every character needs motivation. 

Please sign up for our newsletter on the form in the sidebar to the right. You'll be entered in a giveaway to win one of four books by the Pencildancers.Our newsletter subscribers will get special content from us several times a year, including writing tips, notices of giveaways, new releases, and other information we think you will be interested in. As a subscriber, you will have access to all of this information before our blog readers, and some of it will be exclusive to newsletter subscribers.



Goals: How to Find out What Your Characters Want

 Liz here.

You know your characters must have goals in order to drive the story forward. Without them, your characters will wander across the page with little purpose and no direction. You won't capture your readers and keep them reading if they don't know what the goal of the story is. 

But how do you figure out what your characters want? What makes a good goal?


1. Get to know your characters. This is a key to discovering their goals. If you don't know them, you can't figure out what they want. Spend some time with your characters. Fill out a character chart, which includes their appearance, job, living situation, family, spiritual walk, and so on. Sit down and interview them. Ask them questions that will lead to them revealing to you what it is they want. It may sound crazy, but until you start calling your kids by your characters' names, you don't really know the players in your story.

2. Figure out the end. To a pantser, it's strange to come up with the end of the book before you write a word, but it's necessary. Where do you see your character ending up? If you see him running his own restaurant, you've found his physical goal. If you see her happy and healed after a miscarriage, you've found her emotional goal. If you see him coming back to the Lord after a hard time, you've found his spiritual goal. The place your character ends up is his goal. 

3. Think about the message of the book. Each story you write should have an underlying theme. In Snow on the Tulips, it was courage. In Daisies Are Forever, it was redemption. The theme of Remember the Lilies was forgiveness. The theme gets to the heart of what the character wants. Cornelia needed to put aside her fear and do what was right, despite the circumstances. Gisela needed absolution from her guilt and a chance to do something good. Irene had to forgive all those in her life who wronged her. The theme echoed each of their emotional and spiritual goals. Even their physical goals. For example, Gisela attempted to right her wrongs by bringing her cousin's children to safety. By choosing a theme, you can help focus the character's goals. 

4. Start writing. In the character interview, your hero may have told you what he wants. But is it truly, deep down, what he desires? Sometimes, the only way you can be sure is to write the story, if you're a pantser, or to outline it if you're a plotter. As the book progresses, you'll take that journey of discovery with your character. They may think they want one thing, when they truly long for and need something entirely different. You heroine may think she needs another drink, when she really needs God. Your hero may think he wants to own a restaurant, but what he truly desires is freedom from his boss. Those things may be revealed to you as you go along. That's the fun part of writing, what makes you get up in the morning and put words to paper. It's enough to make a writer giddy ;)

Keep a list of your character's goals taped to the top of your computer or in a prominent place on your desk. Remind yourself of each of the goals as you sit down and write that day. Figure out how your characters are going to take a step toward achieving that goal in that scene and chapter. They should fail along the way, but by having something to work toward, your characters will drive the story forward and engage the reader. 

How do you discover what your characters' goals are?