Writing Process

Motivation such a fickle thing

Saturday night, I was drafting a research paper for my master’s program on  employee motivation and the effects of non-monetary incentives.  I had been reading a lot of literature on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation mainly by Edward Deci and colleagues (fascinating reads on motivation research, btw).  During the course of my procrastination, I was spouting how the structural constraints of the paper were diminishing my intrinsic motivation to complete the thing.  Basically, I was being a smart ass of the first order, I might actually be a council member of the guild.

But during my tirade while stressing out over a mere draft, I realized perhaps that is precisely the reason I have issues motivating myself to edit.  I, like many others I know, enjoy the act of writing, but loathe and procrastinate when it comes to the editing process.  I believe the reason writing is so enjoyable and easy is because I am intrinsically motivated to do it.  I write for the pure joy of writing and telling  a story.  When I am drafting, I don’t care about external feedback, reviews, sales, or any of that stuff that comes with the territory of publishing a book.  When I am drafting I just want to tell a story.

But once I start revising and editing, it’s not longer about what  I think, but the locus of motivation moves to an external source.  I start thinking about my readers (or future readers).  I become externally driven to fix the writing to entertain my readers, make sales, and get good reviews.  It’s no longer about the internal joy of writing, but it’s about the external motivator of feedback.

Now, to add in the research of motivation, to remedy my reluctance to edit I need to find a way to become intrinsically motivated.  This should increase my willingness and enjoyment of completing the work.  How do accomplish such as task?  I don’t know, perhaps editing will always been driven by an external factor and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  As writers we need to keep our audience in mind.


2 thoughts on “Motivation such a fickle thing”

  1. Oh, that’s really interesting that you feel the locus of motivation moves to an external source when you’re revising and editing. I wish I could help you find a balance between internal and external motivation, which I think is the thrilling tightrope we walk when we write, revise, edit… However, I always think that identifying the cause of a problem is the first step to solving it. So, you’re already on your way to a solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I could leave the editing alone. I envy your ability to ignore it while you write your draft. I’m constantly looking for the right word, rearranging so the grammar is better, checking my spelling, etc. And this has little to do with any reader who might come along. My struggle with this is internal.

    Liked by 1 person

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