Over the course of my writing career I have had the opportunity to evaluate what works, and what does, when it comes to motivation for writing. External deadlines, writing contests and word wars/ sprints with other writers are a great way for me to get words on the page. Basically, external motivation.
For example, I have competed in National Novel Writing Month (NaNo WriMo) for over a decade and a half. According to their site, I have written 451,358 words over 15 years of participation. I finished the first draft of my latest novel, The Song of Stars and Shadow, under the pressure of having submitted the first quarter to my critique group, with the expectation for each subsequent part two weeks later.
I was recently diagnosed with ADHD. This, on top of the Major Depressive Disorder that was diagnosed several years ago, may speak to why setting deadlines for myself has not worked for me.
For my last novel, another trick I used was I employed the aid of a Cheer-Reader. She was an acquaintance from a Facebook group of which we are both members. I wrote the story in 4thewords (a site that gamifies writing, another excellent external motivation for me), then transferred my work into a Google Doc that I had shared with her. I asked that she found things she liked about the work to comment on, and generally let me know she was still interested in reading it, so I would know there was someone out there waiting for the next scene.
As 2020 approaches, I’m looking for new motivations to keep me writing. A friend challenged me to the 14th Annual Short Story Challenge. I am intrigued by the format – writers are broken down into heats. Each heat is assigned a genre, a subject and a character that must be included. Top entries from each heat move on to the next (there are 4, total.) Each round new element assignments are made, and the maximum length of the story decreases, as does the amount of time to complete the story. First heat is a 2,500 word cap, and 8 days to write; Fourth/ final heat is 1,250 word limit in 24 hours.
While I may not get past the first heat, I look forward to stretching my writing muscles to meet the challenge. I will still need to find some external motivation to do the edits for Song of Stars and Shadow, but at least for January, I have a plan.