Desire and Motivation

Much like the discussion of talent vs. hard work, the topic of desire vs. motivation is one that many writers debate.  Which is the more important, they ask. Can you create desire? Can you find motivation?

Hearkening back to my writer’s block discussions of recent posts, I’ve been thinking about these two important elements in writing quite a bit.  I’ve reached the conclusion that they are equally important, but that motivation has a greater bearing on results. Yes – there are those who will argue the other way, and those who will say you can’t have one without the other.  I respectfully disagree, but then, I’m only relating this to my personal experience. 

Let me begin by confessing (as if it comes as any surprise to anyone who knows me and/or who reads this blog occasionally), I am notoriously lazy. Somewhere in my DNA is a strand of chromosomes that belongs to a garden slug.

 Much as I love the outdoors, much as I enjoy being sociable, I am perfectly content to sit at my computer working, or sit on the sofa with a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook and a big bag of yarn.  I like being productive, but I like doing it with minimal effort.  How’s that for conflicting concepts.

For reasons which I won’t rehash in this post, the productive part – in so far as writing is concerned – has been somewhat lacking this month.  Part of this, I have come to acknowledge, is that I am seriously lacking in the motivation department.  My desire to produce is there, my desire to be successful is there.  In fact, my desire to be successful is causing me enormous stress because of the lack of motivation I’m feeling.

I realized this after a comment from my husband.  I was discussing a book I had recently finished reading.  It was a young adult novel, and it was well-written and fairly enjoyable.  I know the author personally, though I’d not go so far as to say we are friends, and I commented to my husband that I was pleased with the success the writer is experiencing.  Then I said, “The Deepest Blue is as good as this. Maybe better on some levels.”

My husband turned to me and said, “You are ferociously competitive; do you know that?”

“Ferociously?” I asked, a bit incredulously.

He just nodded.

I am competitive.  I am ferociously competitive.  Typically this helps to fuel my motivation, but lately it has failed to be enough. 

I am pleased for this writer’s success – genuinely so.  The world needs great books for kids, and I celebrate my writing friends’ successes.  I’d also like to celebrate mine. See the conundrum?  It is difficult to be successful when one is not being productive. Argh.

Yes, the desire is present.  I know what I want, I know what I have to do to have it, but at the moment, making those things happen is much more difficult than usual.  It’s not so hard when the motivation is present and the desire is lacking. (Here’s where certain people argue with me – you know who you are!).

As I mentioned, I’m lazy.  I don’t have much desire to go to the gym or to get up and use my Wii and do yoga.  However, I am motivated to lose some weight and to get healthier, especially since I spent nearly eight weeks combating pneumonia.  So while I do not desire to turn myself into a sweat mass of flesh, I have the motivation to do it.  When I am on the treadmill, with the incline set to 30 degrees, hiking at a pace that would kill a horse, it’s not because I like it and desire to do it – it’s because I am motivated to get back into the cute clothes I had when I weighed 20 pounds less.

I once heard Kate DiCamillo speak on this same topic.  I had the pleasure of meeting her in Vermont when I was there for my Master’s program.  This same discussion came up and she said – to the shock and amazement of many there – “I don’t like to write, but I do like having written.”  This is motivation vs. desire.  She was motivated to get out of the terrible job she had, she was motivated to become and author, she was motivated to tell this story – but she did not desire going through the process.  It was her own version of my treadmill.

So I am looking for my motivation again.  I know it’s around here somewhere, it’s just buried under crap that’s piled up in my office.  It may be hiding in the laundry (in which case, it will be missing for quite some time – I’m lacking laundry motivation, too). I will find it, and once that switch is flipped back on, I will get back on track.  Until then, if you see a lost bit of motivation lying around, give me a call.  I’ll be hanging up “LOST” posters with a picture of it on the poles around my neighborhood.lost


One thought on “Desire and Motivation

  1. My wife has saying; “There is no such thing as talent.”

    I always said she believes this because she has hung out with me all these years. In reality, she believes all talent is nutured over long periods of time. I never worry about today or next week, but my motivation comes from the dreams of what I want to be in a decade, and I chip away a little at that each day.

    That approach worked for the doctor and mandolin gig, and golf too. And more important, the long range perspective kept us married all these years. It remains to see whether it will be applicable to my writer hopes, but I am only nine years into that one, so it is too early to say.

    Dr. B

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