A carrot vs stick imbalance

So I’ve spent the last week, since my huge whinge-fest in my last post, trying to find the momentum to begin moving my various projects forward again. I think at least part of why I’ve been having such a hard time is a preponderance of stick and a dearth of carrot. Since early this year, I’ve been working on some really big projects. A 103K novel (Strain). A 93K novel (Saugatuck Summer). I think Risk Aware came out somewhere about 75K. 40K and still going on the mystery. Two other novels begun and past the 10K mark already.

The problem is that none of these projects have been yielding tangible results, especially the ones I’ve already completed (Strain, Saugatuck Summer, and Risk Aware.) I dunno, maybe my inner 6-year-old believes she deserves a lollipop for every day of effort or something, but the fact that I had over 250K worth of writing just hanging in limbo, completed and yet not out in the world, felt very unrewarding. I know I’ve had smaller projects produced in the interim, but for some reason (probably due to my own neuroses) those don’t feel like they count.

The good news is, some of that is being resolved. I’ve had a couple people (namely my editor, Sarah Frantz, and the marvelous Leta Blake) help me with brainstorming which wasn’t so much about the results of the brainstorming so much as it was about the “oh, somebody cares!” boost, so I wasn’t feeling quite so much like I’m slogging along all alone. I’ve seen the cover art for Strain (ALMOST complete,) worked on a blurb and excerpt of Strain that is going in some swag we’re having made, and edits will begin in the next week. So, bottom line is, I’m getting a bit more carrot this past week, which helps. I feel more enthused about my WIPs than I have in a long time.

But I’m still not writing. I wonder if the problem might not be inertia. My biggest fear when I started slowing down on writing was that I was going to lose momentum, because boy does that “objects at rest tend to stay at rest” rule apply to me. So now I’m at rest, and somehow I have to begin all over again with motivating myself to write. I’m having ideas, I’m having more enthusiasm, I just still haven’t managed to make it across that line from inactivity back into activity.

Of course, part of the problem could be that my sleep has been all messed up the past couple weeks due to some trouble I have with my hip, so I’m pretty much exhausted and in an effort to combat the other sleep issues, I’ve cut out caffeine and now I’m in withdrawal as well. *sigh*

At any rate, things are looking up, somewhat. Amazing what just seeing some results, or some movement toward results, can accomplish.


Filed under Musings

4 responses to “A carrot vs stick imbalance

  1. Sarah_Madison

    A carrot and stick imbalance, I like that. 🙂
    I think there are a couple of things at play here. First, you’ve done a tremendous amounting of writing this year already. It doesn’t feel like it because, as you said, they are still in a state of limbo.

    I don’t think it is unusual for writers to go through a period of lying fallow after finishing a project. The trick is not to let it go on too long, but I do think it is necessary. There’s a time for exercising creative muscles and for letting them rest and recharge too.

    The other thing is that sleep deprivation, chronic pain, and simple exhaustion are the kinds of things that have a huge impact on creative energy. We might be able to work our day jobs under such conditions, but creative energy is a bit fragile compared to say, getting the bills paid.

    I had to give up caffeine too. Not only was it starting to affect my sleep but it sent my BP skyrocketing. One 12 oz soda: BP 145/90. No caffeine: BP 116/74. So I can sympathize!

    It sounds like things are moving forward though, even if right now they are only eddies in a slow-moving stream. And you’re right, a good review, a new cover, some great feedback–all of this can really jumpstart a flagging motivation! Good luck on your projects!

    • Your point about sleep and pain affecting creative energy is a valid one, and one I tend to overlook when my inner critic is sneering at me saying “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” I need to remember to factor that into my thinking.

      Luckily my BP is fine, but I’ve been 4 days without caffeine now, and I may just get over wanting to die soon. Hopefully the more things continue to roll forward, the more I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things.

      Thank you!

  2. How did I miss this post? I do care! Very much! I hope that you are feeling better about everything and merrily typing up tons and tons and tons of words. ❤ If you need another phone call, or just want one, always feel free to poke me or nudge. I truly don't mind at all.

    • *hugs* Thank you. Sorry this took so long to reply to. My lack of motivation (coupled with a god-awful sleep deficit and now topped with a case of the con crud) has extended to letting any all all social media and correspondence slide by the wayside in favor of doing brainless hamster-wheel stuff.

      I am bound and determined that this week I am going to get back into the swing of things. If you have any suggestions on how to do that–because telling myself “turn off the brainless clicky-game and go write” doesn’t seem to be working–I am all ears. I dunno, some form of accountability might be necessary? NaNo seems like it would be perfect for that, but I’m very meh on the notion of doing NaNo this year. I have plenty of projects in the works already, as you know, I just can’t seem to make myself actually do them.

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