by Tawny Weber
© 2003

Goal, Motivation and Conflict (GMC) some of the most powerful tools in the writer’s toolbox. We might not know exactly how to make them work right, but we darned sure have them on our list to master. After all, we need them to breathe life into our characters, into our story.
But did you know they are just as important to us personally, as we muddle our way through our writing careers?

I’m sure there are great writers who’ve been published without even setting goals. Others who’ve had great success with the simple goal of “Get Published.” For most of us, however, working with goals is an important part of our process of moving from beginner to contest winner to that pivotal goal turning point, contracted author. How do we learn to use goals to our advantage? There are plenty of fabulous Goal Workshops out there, plus articles and books devoted to the art of setting goals. Entire sections of the bookstore are devoted to helping us all figure it out

But, what about that next step? What about motivation? Just like there are writers who’ve succeeded without goals, there are just as many who’ve made it without having to worry about staying motivated. Somehow, they have an inner fire that constantly fuels them. For the rest of us, the motivation to face that blank page, or muddled mess of edits each day is only slightly less intimidating than parading naked through the grocery store.

So how do we stay motivated? What gets us through the long, lonely hours of ripping our soul apart to find the words to do justice to the pictures dancing in our heads? Like our characters, we all have different motivations. The trick is finding them.

A quick search through the motivational toolbox turns up a few places to start. One of the strongest is a support team, a group that you can sound off to, who will encourage or commiserate with you. Your local or online RWA chapter is my first suggestion for motivation. Other avenues include groups like Survivor Writers, where you have to write a minimum of fifteen pages each week or face the axe. Critique groups and writing partners are one of the strongest means of support and motivation, since they often know your work as well as you do. Contests offer further validation, although the discouragement often outweighs the motivation. Another tool I’m fond of is books, go figure. The self-help aisle at the bookstore is teeming with books on motivation, time management, improving self-esteem and personal growth.

What was that last one? Conflict? Yeah, like we need ideas on bringing conflict into our writing lives. Isn’t lack of time, unreliable Muses, real life demands and tragedies, and those ever so derailing rejections enough conflict? I’d say if there is one area we’re amply equipped in – it’s conflict. The trick is learning to either overcome it, use it or simply work around it. Impossible you say? Nope, just challenging. I’ve written through family tragedy, around holidays, and learned to compensate for my lifelong procrastination habit (it still shows up in my avid volunteering, but I’m working on it).

What’s the true key to keeping conflict from messing up our writing career’s Happily Ever After? The right goal and the right motivation. If the goal is one that you are passionate about, one that you believe in – you’re willing to fight for it. If you have the motivational resources to fall back on in the face of conflict, you’ll weather whatever storms life tosses at you and achieve your goals, and your Happily Ever After.

This article was first published in Words From the Heart.

Tawny Weber is an avowed goal junkie who is determined to achieve her own Happily Ever After.