Saturday, 1 August 2009

Writing Full Time In Your Spare Time - pt 3

Last time I ended with a question: How? How do you find the motivation to write when you‘re working full time?

It’s taken me a while to get back to that one, because frankly I have absolutely no idea.

This week, I did 4 hours writing Sunday and 3½ hours Monday. Sounds admirably consistent, except for 2 things: 1)I was day off Sunday, and worked all day Monday; 2) I actually did 3½ hours writing Monday, as opposed to 4 hours staring at the laptop and occasionally sighing.

I wish the fired-up motivated Monday me could tell the shiftless, struggling Sunday me how he does it. The truth is, some days you’re in the mood, and it all flows, and some days you‘re not and it doesn‘t.

But I do write when I don’t want to, and that counts for a lot - if you only write when you‘re in the mood then you have a hobby. It’s all very well saying you shouldn’t force you muse (man,) but you have to put the hours in. Ok, there are times when you need a break, when you need to get away from it. But I always try to err on the side of carrying on, however hard it is.

The key word here is professionalism. In the day job, I sometimes feel tired, de-motivated, frustrated, bored. Sometimes, you’ll be stunned to hear, I don’t want to be there. If you have job that doesn’t at least sometime makes you feel this way, then you are very, very lucky. Please e-mail me your address so I can kill you, ear your skin to your job and take over your life.

The point is, I never, ever say “fuck it, I can‘t be bothered with this,” and go home and watch a DVD instead. I’d have to check the company’s disciplinary procedures, but I’d probably be sacked if I did. But when I’m writing, I do sometime say “fuck it, etc…” Why? Because when I‘m writing I’m my own boss and frankly I’m a bit of a soft touch.

So that brings us back to the original question - How do you find the motivation to write?

You just have to decide to do it. Then do it. It’s as simple and as hard as that. Apply bum to seat. Write. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes.

Some people are more naturally driven. Anyone who’s ever met Adrian Mead wouldn’t be surprised that he managed to write while doing two jobs 6 days a week - the man’s a positive mountain of energy! But the idea that some people can do it, and more specifically, the idea that you’re not one of them, is dangerous. If you think you don’t have the motivation, then you won’t - it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

A wise man once said, “Do, or do not. There is no try*” Now objectively, this is not true. You can of course, try and fail. But subjectively if you believe that you will succeed, then you’re more likely to.

I’ve had a bit of competition success lately, and I’ve also started writing more - I’ve got back to doing 20 hours a week consistently. These facts are probably not unrelated. But of course I had to find the motivation to write the script that did well in the first place.

Which brings us back to sitting down to write - once you get into the habit of writing, you get better at it. Then you get some good feedback, it motivates you, and you build up a bit of momentum. The more you practise, the luckier you get.

So you have to find that initial motivation from somewhere - passion, ambition, revenge, competition. Believe that you have the choice. Believe that it is in your power. And if you don’t believe it, do it anyway!

* alright, a wise muppet.