Sunday, December 03, 2006

So That's What I've Been Doing Wrong

Way back when, in 2002 or so, I pulled out a lot of my writing. Scribbles and scraps, notebooks and looseleaf, printouts and typed pages. (Yes, I've written long enough to have typed pages.) I decided I was going to get SERIOUS. (Well, at least as serious as I ever planned to be. I aspire, in my own words, to be a hack.) I joined the SFF online writers group, put up a fiction website and eventually this blog. I got good feedback, participated in the process, and then I just sort of... stopped.

For me writing is the dream that won't die. My holy grail. Sometimes it seems like the harder I try to focus on it the more difficult it becomes. Then I try to ignore it and little signs and arrows pop up.

While following a backlink on my main blog for a silly post about a nerd test, I found a blog called BlogSchmog to poke around in. Lo and behold, he had recently posted on creativity. It was a summation of advice on creativity from Gaping Void that he had separated into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. From the very first point under The Good I felt like I had pulled a big, flopping carp in my boat and I was saying, "Hey, doesn't this fish look familiar?"
3. Put the hours in.
Oh yeah. Right. I was supposed to do that.

So why didn't I?

I'm sure I have all sorts of good excuses. Gotta pay the mortgage. Gotta take care of the pets. Gotta... Gotta... Gotta... I've read from some of my favorite writers that they actually hate writing but, as the saying goes, they love having written. When they have the time they also hide behind a list of gottas to keep from having to sit down at the computer and actually PRODUCE something. (We can't all be Scott Adams and Nora Roberts who keep to their regimented schedules like they were earning merit badges.)

But excuses aren't reasons. Somehow those other writers do find a way to settle down and produce something. They find their motivation.
Sir Alexander Dane: You're just going to have to figure out what it wants. What is its motivation?
Jason Nesmith: It's a rock monster. It doesn't have motivation.
Sir Alexander Dane: See, that's your problem, Jason. You were never serious about the craft.

Of course all of this got me thinking: how can I find my motivation? I recently took the Clifton StrengthsFinder (a nice little write-up of the strengths is at the bottom of this page) which I think illuminates two points for me.

First, we can't all be Scott and Nora (they are probably blessed with a deep rut in the Focus talent) nor should we try to be. I am not blessed with Focus in my top five talents and I would be highly surprised if it made the talent list at all. I think that it is a non-talent which means when I'm pressed to use that approach it morphs into a horrible, ugly weakness. It doesn't matter how much you try to "teach" me to Focus, I just don't get it. Not over the long haul. This is particularly amusing since a good bit of my job requires giving Focus to my organization. Things go along swimmingly until I get distracted. For me Focus is not natural. It is not easy. It requires energy and drains me. Why do I do it? Because someone has to. And my second rated strength is Responsibility. I was the 12-year-old who said to her parents "Someone has to be the adult around here." My catchphrase is, "I'll take care of it."

Second, I need to focus on own my strengths. Obviously, based on the above discussion I would be a much more prolific writer if I had a contract to fulfill or depended on writing to pay the mortgage. This sort of motivation has served me well in "having a job" but certainly doesn't make for rushing off into the unknown.

No solutions, I'm just thinking for now. But I've got to find a way to put the hours in.


  1. we are even... I really like your writing. And I knew Don Clifton while he was developing strength finder. jake