By guest April Erwin
When Mary asked what my topic was for this post, I had a few notes outlined but nothing solidified. I read them off to my sister, Angel, (my sounding board for EVERYTHING) and then announced, “How about, ‘Finding What Drives You’?”
Angel nods seriously and responds, “That sounds good, but I find it highly amusing that the girl who procrastinates writing so much is going to tell others how to find their drive.”
“True…” Angel never holds back the truth, which is why I count on her opinion so much. “But, this is what I’m feeling led to write about and I already have these ideas…”
“Well, maybe it will help you find your drive, too.”
Ouch! That stung a little. Not because she was mean, but because I saw a kernel of truth in it. Did that stop me? Nope. I messaged Mary the topic and then promptly put off writing the post a little longer so we could deal with all the graduation and birthday hub-bub in our house.
If you’re like me though, writing isn’t all about having your fingers attached to a keyboard. Once an idea gets in my head I fiddle with it constantly. During one of these internal writing chats with myself, it occurred to me: Drive and Motivation isn’t always the same thing. Before you roll your eyes and scoff, give me a moment to show you.
Drive is the thing that urges or compels you to do something.
“Would you eat a cricket?” This was the challenge written across a food blog post I recently saw. UGH! Eat a cricket? NO WAY! I realize in some parts of the world this is nutritious and normal, but me? I’m a pizza and cheeseburger kind of girl. Then I remembered a challenge from some co-workers about 15 years ago.
My boss had purchased a tiny bag of Nacho cheese covered deep fried grubs. They were about the size of a grain of rice, but you could tell what they were. It was a novelty purchase to show all the guys and see if anyone was man enough to try one. Not one of them would. Not even the boss that bought them. Out of nowhere I surprise everyone (including myself) with “I’ll eat one.” Surprised, they finally handed me one. I ate it – whole. Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to chew. They were all rather impressed and shocked. So was I. I’d just ate a nacho cheese covered fried grub no one else would, to prove a point. I can do anything.
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I’m competitive. I like to be challenged. That takes boldness. So how does that translate into my writing life? How can I be bold in some areas and so timid and shy in others? I’ve always been a kind of contradiction where the only time I was bold was when I had something to prove to someone else. But what happens when there isn’t anyone to prove something to?
When I began writing my first book, that need to prove I could do it was what drove me. I had testimonies that I felt called to write, but unfortunately they weren’t always what drove me. Once I’d completed Missing Pieces and published it, that challenge to prove I could write a book was gone and there was no one to compete against, or push me to try harder. I had to find a new and better reason to drive me.
My second published novel, Dysfunction Junction, was actually my third to write. I had worked for a long time on Justice Burning, but finally put it on a shelf. Now I had a new story on my heart that I couldn’t let go of. I had testimonies that I needed to write and felt God saying I had a message that could touch someone, if I would complete the book. I felt compelled to write it.
Here is where I began to see the difference between drive and motivation. My drive to tell Kianna’s story was in the feeling of necessity that I complete it. My personal testimonies with God helped to encourage that drive. Did I write like crazy and not procrastinate? No! (I invite you to laugh hysterically with me.)
Motivation is the inducement or incentive to greater effort, a reward offered for increased productivity.
I had to find motivation regularly to get my butt in the chair to write. I read a lot of articles on how to find motivation. I’d set rewards for myself or challenges, sometimes they worked. Sometimes they didn’t. Often though, I would build up my motivation by leaning on what drove me to begin with; the urgency to write and share stories for God. I found the best way for me to do that was to pray. Keeping up a dialogue with God about why I felt driven to write this project and praising Him for giving me the opportunity and strength was important.
You would think after seeing the success of Dysfunction Junction published, I’d be jumping right back in to the writing pool and looking for my next contract. I didn’t. I wrote a bit, but it took a critique partner suggesting I submit Justice Burning before I did. My contract was offered within 24 hours. (I about fell out of my chair.) Thirty days later, it’s published in e-book and paperback and I’m being asked when my next book will be coming. Good question. Let me rev up my drive again and see what I can do.
For me that’s what it takes every time, with every project. It’s a choice. I have to choose to dig deep and find that drive inside, the urgency that compels me not to give up on writing even though it’s really hard work that takes a lot of years to see come to fruition. It’s the proverbial rock I cling to when writing waters get rather stormy. Then when the drive is stirred up, and I find my story inspiration, I still have to choose to keep that drive alive and find ways to motivate myself. (A good swift kick in the pants by my big sister helps.) Sometimes I just need the boost to push past procrastination. Other times I need a much deeper acknowledgment of what drives me.
Today let's talk about what drives you?
Focus on knowing what really drives you and ask your friends/family to remind you when you struggle. Finding what drives you will keep you going when your writing stalls out.
What is the deep seeded, compelling urge that keeps you coming back to the keyboard?
Do you have a testimony? If you haven’t defined that in your heart and mind yet, then take the time to pray about it.
I’m giving away 1-Dysfunction Junction e-book, 1- Justice Burning e-book, and 1-Justice Burning autographed paperback. Three prizes, three winners. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.
Justice Burning released April 24th and is available now in print and e-book.
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School counselor and graphologist, Morgan Daryl inherited her Grandmother’s farm. Ready for a fresh start, she leaves a tragic past behind to move to Justice, Missouri.
An explosive fire at Morgan’s school triggers a series of escalating fires throughout town. At each fire, the arsonist leaves a note. Can Morgan’s graphology training help?
As Aidan works to catch the arsonist, he struggles against a growing attraction to Morgan. Can Aidan learn to trust Morgan with the investigation and his heart?
April Erwin is the author of suspenseful and humorous inspirational contemporary stories that reflect her faith and the life motto created with her sister and best friend. A lifelong resident of Independence, MO, April loves living in her hometown surrounded by family and her Cocker Spaniel, Buddy. Raised in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she's thrilled to achieve her dream to become a writer and use that to witness of her Christian faith. She holds an Associate in Graphological Science, the study of handwriting analysis, tutors dyslexic and reading challenged individuals, enjoys photography, is a singer/songwriter and records original music with her sister, Angel. Also the author of Dysfunction Junction and Missing Pieces, Justice Burning is her third published novel.
Twenty-six and never been kissed. That's about to change...
Finding true love these days feels impossible to Kianna Ravencamp, only dysfunction surrounds her. Her sister’s married to an abusive husband and marriages she’s admired for years are falling apart. Maybe relationships like her parent’s don’t exist anymore. She dreams of true love and a family, but she’s never even been kissed.
For her birthday, her best friend gives her a journal and dares her to follow her dream of songwriting and vocal lessons quickly follow. Kianna’s finally dared to dream big… if the three men in her life don’t get in her way.
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