Mark Terry

Friday, January 09, 2009

What Motivates You?

January 9, 2009
Yes, along with the video, I've got something to say.

I find this video motivating. I'm not likely (never say never) to ever try to enter an Iron Man Triathlon. Nonetheless, I find the idea of it motivating. Very few people do it, only a minuscule handful of people are "professionals" at it or even remotely competitive about it. It's all about finishing, not winning. What inspires me even more than the elite athletes are the older--the woman at the end of the video is now 72 years old and has completed the Kona (Hawaii) Iron Man Triathlon 7 or 8 times! (Yeah, what's your excuse again?) or so-called handicapped. As the video suggests, there are people in wheelchairs and amputees who complete the Iron Man. What? Somebody with a prosthesis swims 2.4 miles, bikes 112 miles and runs 26.2 miles in one day? What's your excuse for why you can't sit down and write five pages of finished copy today?

For me, this video and the notion of an Iron Man is about limitations.

That is to say, I think our limitations are in our head, mostly. 

I wonder what motivates me as a writer. Is it fame? No. One, most writers don't get famous, and two, what little of the "oh you're an author!" nonsense I've experienced just makes me seriously uncomfortable.

Money? Money definitely motivates me, but oddly enough (although I think this is true for most people) it doesn't inspire me. I write for money, yes, and I'm motivated to write to make money so I can continue to live and work the way I do. Sure. 

Communication? Yes, in an ephemeral way, I think so. It's not like I get that much feedback from my writing (except, possibly, checks).

Some of it is clearly something biochemical. I get pleasure from writing in a way that resembles some low-level drug buzzes, I think. It's not quite physical and it's not euphoric, but there's something that goes on in my brain when I write that involves pleasure. In that respect writing is my drug of choice.

But why the hell keep slamming away at fiction if it doesn't pay the bills and the marketing/rejection process is so unpleasant?

Maybe a part of it has to do with limitations. As the video says, the world is broken into people who say they can and people who say they can't. In terms of writing novels, I can.

So I do.

How about you?

Mark Terry


Blogger spyscribbler said...

I have said many times that if it hadn't been for my particular path, I wouldn't have been a writer. I really can't know that for sure, because it's the only path I've had, but I have my doubts.

For me, it comes down to what motivates me to get through the hard bits. I would have thrown at least 80% of what I've written away, incomplete, if I hadn't needed the money. I wouldn't have written as much, if I hadn't needed the money. The money gets me through my self-doubt, my fears, and my inertia.

To say that money motivates me would be a falsehood, though. Why do I work so hard to improve every day? I'm not inspired by the prospects of a raise. Why do I continually push myself out of my comfort zone, to explore and to try new things? It can't be money, because I'm most likely going to push myself out of my editor's comfort zone, one day. Why do I work so very hard to be different? Again, I'd get more money, most likely, if I were more "correct" than different.

I love story, reading, and writing, probably more than I've loved anything in my entire life. Still, at the end of the day, I guess I'd have to either say "money" or "I don't know."

7:47 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Your post really made me think. Must be that Genius That Is Mark Terry thing. Because my answer is I Don't Know.

I write to process the world and to quiet my brain and whatever part of me that feels like it NEEDS to write. Beyond that, if what I process connects me to others, then that is motivating. And I suppose, there's still a little of that "I hope to win the lottery thing" and that maybe the next book will be it.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Synix said...

I write because I have to. If I'm not writing I'm thinking about what I'll write when I get the chance. Would I love to be paid to do this? Heck yes! It's my ultimate goal, to really have the writer's life, but I'm not there yet. What motivates me to keep going is a little like what you said Mark about writing providing a little buzz, it's pure joy to finish a story or find that one word or phrase that will make a poem work, it's a feeling like no other. When I'm working, I'm working that's who I am, but when I'm writing I'm flying and I can be all the different people I am inside.

2:27 PM  
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