Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Internal versus External Motivation

No, I'm not talking about character arcs, which is an entire post in itself. I'm talking about your own motivations as a writer, be they external (e.g. editor deadlines) or internal (e.g. desire to hit the NYT Bestseller list). I've always responded really well to deadlines, whether self-imposed or other-imposed. I knew I needed to finish revising (okay, re-writing) the second half of my book for a writing retreat I'm attending this week. I finished yesterday with two days to spare, but as excited as I am about the retreat (my external deadline), that wasn't the only motivation behind my late nights this week. 

Last week, I mentioned my obsession with Shiny New Idea. I was so motivated to start it, but wouldn't let myself until I finished my "old" manuscript. Last night, I literally hit the "compile" button in Scrivener (coolest program EVER) for my old document, then opened up a new one and wrote the first chapter of SNI. The internal motivation to get my new idea on paper is what helped push me through the torture of a bazillionth revision (only a slight exaggeration) of my last ms. I get so geeked out over first drafts that I'm going to enjoy this time while it lasts...after all, I know that first revision is just around the corner.

What about you? Are you motivated more by external or internal factors?


  1. I'm motivated by internal. I'm just so driven to write right now that I don't need to make external deadlines.

    Hopefully some of my manuscripts will get signed soon and I'll have external deadlines... :)

    Great post!

  2. Yeah, I'll take that kind of external deadline any day! Good luck w/ the writing. :)

  3. I can only work on one thing at a time. And since I don't really have any external motivators, I guess I'm more internal. For now.

  4. My motivations are definitely external when it comes to sitting down and write - whether it is a beta reader sending a feedback or a friend asking me about a WIP (or their own WIP), talking about specific stories (not writing in general) miraculously opens up documents and has me tapping away on the keyboard.

  5. External works for me. I was a newspaper features writer for years and know the rigidity of the presses. Being in crit groups helps me keep up the external deadline. If you want feedback, you gotta write.

  6. Wow! I wish I had that kind of internal motivation. That's rare for me, although I do think an awesome SNI might work. Mostly I'm motivated by the external. I hate to let other people down, lol. Myself... well, I can wait.


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