Sunday, January 9, 2011

The motivating power of desire

My oldest started taking violin lessons last year. Before she put a foot in the classroom she was bubbling with excitement. She enthusiastically informed everyone she met, that she was signed up for violin lessons.

It took about two lessons for her to lose interest. She didn't like the violin. It was a chore to get her to practice. I had to physically lift her out of the bed and put her in the shower for her to get to her Saturday class on time, and half the times we were late. She would prefer to clean her room, vacuum the carpet, read a book, and clean the toilets, than to practice the violin.

This semester, after much pleading (ok, not that much), I decided not to waste my hard earned money signing her up for another semester of violin.

Then she tells me, “Mommy, since I won’t be doing violin anymore, can you sign me up for piano?”

Quite naturally my response was a resounding, “Hell no!”

Why would I waste my money on piano lessons when she would just tire of it after two lessons? She did that with ballet and tap, she did it with soccer. She had no stick-to-itiveness. So as a concession to her, I bought her a Casio keyboard for Christmas.

She loved it. She got on it and started picking out tunes by ear, figuring them out on her own by trial and error. Since Christmas, there hasn’t been a day when she didn’t practice or try to learn some new song on the piano.

This morning she came to me all excited. She had figured out how to play “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”.

I listened as she plucked out the tune. Then she looked up at my smiling appreciative face and asked, “So Mommy can I have piano lessons now?”

I contemplated her request for a while, then I said no. You see, I realized that my daughter was very much like me. If I desired it, I was motivated to accomplish it. But the moment it became mandatory, it lost all appeal.
As a kid, I loved to see my sister and her friend crochet. I wanted to learn it, but being left-handed made it difficult for them teach me. I asked one of my teachers who had mastered the craft. She too found it difficult to teach a left-hander. Finally while a teenager I took up an instruction book and taught myself to crochet. It was gratifying. I crocheted one doily and that was it. I was no longer interested. The motivator was the desire to teach myself what others failed to teach me.

When I started writing, it was because I loved it. I wanted to share my stories with the world, so I set about publishing them. And I was so motivated, that I couldn’t wait to sit down at my computer and write. But a few months ago, I decided to take the advice of many of my fellow novelnauts and approach my writing as a job. I set myself lofty goals of writing a certain amount each night. If I didn’t make my quota, I felt anxious, even a little down. My writing was becoming exactly like…a job. It was a chore that I had to do and it lost its appeal. I found myself succumbing to every distraction and finally a month went by when I didn’t type a word.

Over the holidays I decided to forget all my quotas, all my expectations and write like I did before being published. Well whaddya know, I advanced more on my WIP that I did for the better part of the year. That’s the power of desire. It is the ultimate motivator.

What is your ultimate motivator?


Charles Gramlich said...

It's too bad that we always have to keep learning again and again that it is love that motivates us most.

Jewel Amethyst said...

So very true. I think we all know it, but we just have to be reminded every so often.

G said...

My ultimate motivator is proving all the naysayers and the people that don't like me wrong when they say I can't write.

I may only have one short story published so far, but I've been able to keep a blog going coming up on three years, that has on the average about 80 subscribers (not counting the 59 followers)with fresh original content.

I enjoy proving people wrong and I will always enjoy proving people wrong.

Jewel Amethyst said...

You know what G, so do I. I have however never used that to motivate my writing as most people who know me, only discovered that I was an author when they saw my photo in the back of my first published book.

The few who knew me from my highschool days and my family members have said one thing thus far, "How come it took so long?"

Liane Spicer said...

Jewel, getting published and feeling the weight of external expectations is the worst thing that could have happened to my writing.

I'm still trying to get back to the place where I write for the love of it, where I write because I cannot not write and nothing else matters - where writing has not become another 'job' or 'chore' to be done. I certainly identify with this post.

Phyllis Bourne said...

That is one cute kid!

Like Liane, I'm still struggling to get back to my writing happy place.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Good luck finding that happy writing place, Liane and Phyllis. But yes, that pressure to produce is indeed a chokehold.

I've gone back into the "write when I feel like it mode. Fortunately, I have felt like it most days for the past month.