Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

What to Do When Your Motivation Takes a Vacation

(Motivation—everyone needs it, no matter what kind of work you do or dreams you have. Enjoy this guest post about motivation by editor and author Debra L. Butterfield.)

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Sometimes it takes all the willpower I can muster to put my butt in the chair and write.

By day I’m a freelance editor/writer and by night an editor for CrossRiver Media. I’m single and my children are grown, but I still have all the household chores to do.

Work, eat, sleep. Work, eat, sleep. My motivation wants to hop a train to Denver, and leave me behind to the comfort of the couch and a mind-numbing DVD.

Because I’m self-employed, I can give in to this lack of motivation for a day. I justify it by telling myself I deserve a day off. But then a day becomes two and sometimes three.

Do you ever have days like that? Weeks maybe where you lack the motivation to work toward your dreams? I’ve come to realize that “me time” keeps my motivation at home where it belongs.

What Causes Lack of Motivation? 

The day job and family responsibilities can sabotage our motivation faster than a rattlesnake can strike. Here are several other possibilities:

  • Work-life imbalance
  • Physical illness/hormone imbalance
  • Depression
  • Clutter
  • Overwhelm
  • Discouragement
  • Trying to accomplish too many goals at once or perhaps one goal with an unrealistic time frame?

The list could go on and on.

It’s easy for me to work all the time. But that imbalance is one of the first things to trigger a slump.

If you’re feeling unmotivated, take your lunch hour or some time before bed to think about the cause/s. Knowing why will help you take action to fix it.

Sunshine, fresh air, and music motivate me. For that reason, summer is my favorite season, and I take my work outside when I can. I have a quiet time with God every morning as well. Focusing on His goodness and the many blessings He brings lifts my spirit and keeps my motivation intact.

Our culture lauds workaholism, but God didn’t design us for all work and no play. We need to feed our soul with things we enjoy. Take a moment right now and write down 5-10 things that motivate or inspire you. Incorporate those things into your life to spark your creativity and motivation.

How to Move Forward 

Too often we don’t create until we feel inspired or motivated. Consequently, nothing gets created. Instead, develop a habit of regular writing (creating your art), be it daily or weekly. The act of creating will ignite your excitement and motivation.

  • Create a 90-day goal—just one goal.
  • Devise a plan to accomplish it.
  • Review your plan daily/weekly.
  • Work the plan.

Seeing progress toward that goal will inspire and motivate you to keep moving forward. When you’ve accomplished that goal, set another and establish a plan to reach it.

(I like it! Baby steps—that’s how I work best toward a goal. Be sure to check out Debra’s website and published works. She’s an editor I recommend.)

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About Debra L. Butterfield

Debra is the author of 7 Cheat Sheets to Cut Editing Costs, Abba’s Promise, Carried by Grace: a Guide for Mothers of Victims of Sexual Abuse, and Mystery on Maple Hill (a short story e-book). She has contributed to numerous anthologies. She is a freelance editor and editor for CrossRiver Media Group and blogs about writing at DebraLButterfield.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraLButterfieldAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebrasBlog

Books available at Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/debralbutterfield   and at Amazon

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Avoid Body Language Weasel Words–Enter for a Chance to Win a Free Edit

I enjoy the study of body language and never thought I’d suggest anyone avoid mentioning a character’s body language in fiction. But if that body language description is ordinary and overused, it’s a weasel word or phrase as harmful to the quality of the writing as any other.

If it can be misinterpreted, that’s even worse.

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

In the first draft of a manuscript, I often depend on the verb “smiled.” I’m in a hurry and don’t stop to think of a better description for such a common action. Critique buddies are quick to point out that failing, for which I’m grateful, and I correct the problem on the revise. Or I mean to. Reading over my releases, I still see more instances of “smiled” than I am comfortable with.

You may think, what’s wrong with “smiled”?

As far as body language goes, a smile can convey a lot of things in addition to happiness: deception, nervousness, physical discomfort, romantic or sexual interest, pleasure over someone else’s pain. The meaning of the smile changes when used in context with other body language–movement or position of the eyes or brows, positions of the hands or limbs, or whole body stance.

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

Besides, a reader may just-plain-get-tired of reading the same word or phrase over and over. I once edited a political thriller for a gentleman, now deceased. All of his characters—protagonist, antagonist, and minor characters alike—“smiled broadly” or “grinned broadly” no matter whether they were happy about something good or evil or perhaps experiencing a different emotion altogether. After the first few instances, all I could picture in my mind was someone with a big, stupid, toothy grin on his face each time I encountered either phrase. If I had been reading for pleasure, I may have discarded the book.

Merriam-Webster online defines a weasel word as “a word used in order to avoid being clear or direct.” In other words, the use of a word to deceive. For writers, add this definition: a lazy word used because we are unwilling or unable to create a better description. In a way, that’s deceiving—perhaps misleading or cheating—our readers.

Each writer owns a personal set of weasel words—those words used as a crutch to fall back on when we are tired or in a hurry or not at our creative best. In addition to “smiled,”  search your manuscript (or a published novel!) for body-action verbs such as “walked.” More than you would’ve guessed, right?

Choosing more precise body language description reveals much more about a character, his emotions or intentions, and a scene or setting’s mood. As a reader that’s important to me, particularly at the opening of a scene.

Is there a passage from your work in progress that contains a weasel word or phrase to convey body language? Which emotion or intention of the character would you like to express in a better defined and more creative way?

My gift to one reader of this blog post: Subscribe to my newsletter from my website cynthiattoney.com to enter for a chance to win a free body language weasel word hunt-destroy-replace edit of any single 3,000-word segment from your fiction manuscript. After the end of February, I will contact the winner using the email address you provide when subscribing.

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