For Deb Susan, Motivation Springs From Commitment

We’ve seen a lot about different motivations this week, and I’ve identified with each of my Deb sisters where motivation is concerned.

Like Deb Kerry, I work better with a buddy and best of all when I have to wedge the writing into an impossibly busy day.

Like Deb Dana, I find myself writing this post at 9:30PM on the evening before it’s due.

Like Deb Kelly, I had to slog my way through some difficult years to get to where I’m sitting now, and although, for me, writing offers release from reality and all its attendant difficulties, I still have my moments getting my butt to the chair.

But I’m committed. (And sometimes, my family says I should be…)

In January of 2010, I realized I was going to turn 40 that summer. (It’s not hard math, and I should have noticed before, but I digress.)

Forty, which for my family’s average means more than halfway through my allotted years.

Forty, and with my lifelong dream of becoming a published author not much closer than it was at 18…or 20…or 35.

That January, I made a special commitment. I would write a book a year until I died, got published, or it killed me. If that meant dying with 65 unpublished manuscripts and some real number of cats far greater than zero … so be it. I accepted the risk.

As of May 30, 2013, I’ve written four more manuscripts – a book ahead of schedule if you count Book 3 of the Shinobi series, which is currently halfway through its third full draft. In that time, the total number of days I haven’t written (or edited, which counts from my perspective) is a number lower than my age.

I don’t write every day because I love it – though almost all days I do. I don’t write every day because I have superhuman skill or motivation. Trust me, I’m hugely fallible and easily distracted. 13D20 ladybug rose

I write because I said I would. Because I made a commitment to the voices in my head. Because “a book a year” is the goal I set and because I’m not a person who likes to fail – even if the only judge of failure is myself.

Not everyone can write a book a year. Not everyone wants to. Not everyone needs to, and perhaps not everyone should. But for me, it’s the number I chose and the one I’ll stick to.

Technically, I’ll have satisfied my commitment in 47 days, when Claws of the Cat releases and I reach that publication goal.

Except that now I’m writing a series. So, happily, I’ll continue to write a book a year – until I tell all the stories in me, until I die, or until it kills me.

Well … or until my family decides commitment is the solution as well as the problem.

What long-term commitment have you made, to yourself or to someone else? How do you keep yourself on track to follow through?

7 Replies to “For Deb Susan, Motivation Springs From Commitment”

  1. Susan – yes, yes, and yes. That’s really the thing for me too. If I hadn’t made the commitment to finally make writing a priority, then I wouldn’t be turning my life upside down and inside out to find the ways to make it happen! And I love your book a year philosophy. Here’s to many more years and many more books!!

    1. Thanks Kerry 🙂 I know, for me, it was the act of making the commitment that gave me the strength/permission/courage/etc to make it happen. Wanting it, to me, just isn’t the same. But once I made myself that promise it became a “real thing” that I was obligated to. Isn’t it funny how that can be enough?

  2. Wow, Susan, a book a year. And you’re still working a day-job? If you’re still working full-time, how on earth do you find the time? That’s my dilemma. Or maybe I have to face the fact that I’m just a slow writer…

    A long while ago I made a commitment not to let fear keep me from pursuing fiction. That I’d go for it one way or another…I have my ups and downs for sure, but I keep coming back to the writing in the end.

    1. Honestly? I steal the time. At least, I did in the beginning and some days I still have to. Over the course of that first year, I taught myself to write in available moments. I used to be the kind of person who needed certain music, and no distractions, and blocks of time, in order to write, but I eventually realized if I waited for perfection I’d never finish anything. So I contented myself with 5 minutes, or 15, and with dealing with interruptions, and gradually my brain learned to work under those conditions. It works better when I get long chunks, which I do more often now, but many days it just came down to forcing out crappy work and knowing I’d fix it in editing. Still does, sometimes.

      Your commitment to not let the fear stop you is SO important. I was terrified of failing, and that was part of what kept me from writing too. My “book a year” promise was partly a response to that also – if I had to write them, I had no time to waste in worrying about it.

      1. I’m trying to retrain my brain to work in shorty allotments too. It’s a struggle, that’s for sure. I’m a sink-into-deep kind of person. I have a hard time skimming over the surface of things, which is how I feel much of the time when I’m trying to cram the writing in a little here and a little there…But yes, revision is king (or queen)…back to it!

  3. I’m a short-term goal gal. A book a year goal would set me off on the ledge. But, a chapter a week? That I can do. And I better get to it. xo

    1. I have short term goals myself – daily and weekly ones, which keep me on track. And you’re right – time to get to writing!!

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