Growing up with the last name of Early, I developed an irrational fear of being tardy. Every joker who hollered, “Hey, Early, you’re late!” burned that accusation a little deeper into my brain, where it still waits to sneak out and torment me. So deadlines scare me. I can use them to my own advantage to a certain extent. I schedule my top priorities on my calendar. At the end of the day, I hate to see anything not checked off because I’m afraid I’ll hear that nagging voice in my head. So, yes, fear can be a great motivator. Up to a point. I get overwhelmed from time to time; I find it harder to focus on my own writing toward the end of every semester. A calendar filled up with deadlines creates anxiety, which leads to resentment. Resentment turns into rebellion, and writing becomes an obligation, even drudgery. I have to drag myself to the page, and it’s much easier to find something else to do that seems more urgent.
Opportunity is another great motivator. Every mother who writes learns to fit her creative work into the cracks between family obligations. When our sons were little, I started carrying a small notebook around with me everywhere. I jotted a few words at a time in those notebooks, and I wrote short poems and picture books I could carry around in my head. As the boys grew more independent, I found myself with longer stretches of time. My writing opportunities expanded. I’ve collected a drawerful of those little notebooks, and I still carry one everywhere I go. But now that our sons have both headed off to college, my days are more open. I can consider more expansive topics. I’m writing novels. And I’ve learned that the more consistent I can be with my writing habits, the more actual progress I make. (Who would have guessed, right?) So I try to build opportunity into my daily schedule. I get up in the morning and head to the notebook or the laptop in my pajamas. I get up when my husband does, while it’s still dark out, before my inner critic wakes up and starts barking. Lately I’ve moved from my desk to a loveseat to start my day. It feels cozier there, more inviting. Under a blanket, my coffee cup on the windowsill next to me, I feel safe. I can focus. I can sink into my work.
When I do that on a regular basis, when I get to the page first thing often enough and regularly enough, a magical transformation takes place. Some gear shifts in the universe. The work starts to call to me. When I make opportunities and my head is clear of fear, fun bounces into the picture. Exciting new ideas burst into my head, and they all seem doable. I dream about my work in progress. I wake up in the morning eager to find out what happens next, and I can’t wait to get to work. These are the best days, the ones worth struggling for. Joy is the best motivation of all, the one that keeps me (as Esther says) going-going-going.
The TeachingAuthors are six children's book authors with a wide range (and many years) of experience teaching writing to children, teens, and adults. Here, we share our unique perspective as writing teachers who are also working writers. Our regular features include writing exercises (our"Writing Workouts"), teaching tips, author interviews, book reviews, and more. Click here for detailed information about our "Writing Workouts." For our individual bios, please see the "About Us" page. To contact us regarding reviewing a book on the craft of writing, see the section below labeled SUBMITTING BOOKS FOR REVIEW.
New Edition of Rosa, Sola by Carmela Martino, now in paperback and ebook
Recent Release by a TeachingAuthor
More than Enough (Dial) by April Halprin Wayland, illustrated by Katie Kath
Poetry Friday Anthology for Science featuring TWO TeachingAuthors
Includes poems by April Halprin Wayland and Esther Hershenhorn
A 2014 TeachingAuthor Title
Girls of Gettysburg (Holiday House) by Bobbi Miller
A 2013 TeachingAuthor Title
Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football's Make-Or-Break Moment (Carolrhoda) by Carla Killough McClafferty
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The individual opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other contributors to the blog, nor do they necessarily reflect the opinions of any of our publishers. We encourage our visitors to try out the tips and advice shared here. However, please do not copy any information without the written consent of the person who posted it. Thank you.
The individual opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other contributors to the blog, nor do they necessarily reflect the opinions of any of our publishers. We encourage our visitors to try out the tips and advice shared here. However, please do not copy any information without the written consent of the person who posted it. Thank you!