In which you will read that you should write so others can read what you have written.
There are whole schools of thought on the psychology of motivation. They talk about positive and negative reinforcement, stimulus and response. They debate the ideas of Pavlov, Maslow, Skinner, and other scholars of the bisyllabic variety of names. I’ve spent many months exhaustively researching this, and have yet to find a single one of these so-called “schools of thought” on any map anywhere. This is uncharted territory. Come with me.
Carrots and Sticks
The classic illustration of motivational psychology shows a donkey with a carrot dangling in front of it. The idea is that the donkey wants the carrot and will walk towards it. The other motivator is the farmer behind the donkey, ready to swat the donkey if it stops. This shows two modes of motivation: reward and punishment. Setting up systems of rewards and punishments for your writing can be a great motivator. You will need to be creative in creating these, unless you like carrots and have a farmer with a stick behind you.
Cheerleaders and Fans
Who doesn’t love positive feedback? Discounting those people, we’ll move on. Getting positive feedback and encouragement can be a wonderful source of inspiration. I get great joy when I hear that my writing has touched someone deeply. This may be why, in those Robin Hood movies, messages were tied to arrows: to improve penetration. (message for you, sir!) Robin Hood was loved by his people, and that surely helped motivate him. This can work for you as well. Keep in touch with your fans and enjoy their accolades. Soak in the glory and let your ego swell to near-bursting. Social Media is great for this, and has the advantage of allowing you to keep in contact with hundreds or thousands of your fans, and is even faster than arrows are.
Critics and Haters
Not everyone will love your work. Sorry to break that to you. You will hear criticisms, corrections, and complaints. They may range from the polite pointing out of a typographical error in a work to pelting you with profanities for sparkly werewolves or exploding asteroids. This can be a motivator as well, to improve your skills. Save these letters for reference. You can write better the next time, sell millions of copies, and email the critics a picture of you, your novel, the New York Times Bestseller List with you on top, and the big fat check you got as an advance on your sequel.
Friends and Followers
This whole thing reminds me of a funny story. I was recently at the home of another very famous local author whom I consider to be a close, personal friend. He was discussing his writing and a perticularly bad case of writer’s block he was having.
“I’m sure,” he chuckled, ” my fans think I just sit at my keyboard and the words always flow effortlessly. I struggle too! I have days where I just don’t feel like writing. I procrastinate; I work on other projects, surf the web, play MMORPGs, and things like that, even though I know I’m supposed to be writing. The money’s not always enough of a motivator, as terrible as that sounds. I think I almost need someone to poke me in the back with a pencil until I get back to writing.”
At a whim, I snuck up behind him and did just that! Ahh, you should have seen the look on his face when he turned around, saw me, and said, “Who are you? How did you get in my house?!?” He’s such a kidder. He did get back to writing, once the police had finished searching the neighborhood. He wrote a very chilling story about a stalker.
It just goes to show you how your fanbase can really help motivate you.