Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TED Talk Tuesday: The Puzzle of Motivation with Dan Pink

I had a whole blog post written for today, then I read it and deleted the whole thing. I'm blaming my rash deletism on this morning's school rush. On trying to get the kids out of the house. (Well, the problem this morning was that they were already out of the house--playing with neighborhood kids. Not getting ready for school. Or the problem was that I was writing a blog post while my kids weren't getting ready for school....)

Anywho. The first post was boring, so I deleted. Welcome to post two. :)

I'm always looking at and trying to learn from successful authors (you can decide for yourself what kind of success you want to study). For me, success looks like authors who get to keep writing books for their audience.

Successful authors all seem to have at least one thing in common--they treat their writing like a business. Revising without their ego in play. Writing without their ego in play. Well, doing everything without their ego in play. :)

Their business is to write books, so they do so. But writing is still a creative business. We often hear about the muse and writer's block and things that keep us from reaching the end goal.

So, we talk about creative confidence. And now we talk about motivation.

And, in this TED talk, we discover what the business world has missed in their pursuit of motivation. What makes someone do a great job at work? What makes you keep your pen to the page day after day?

What works as motivation might just surprise you.

Can't see the TED talk? Watch it HERE.

Crazy, that rewards dull thinking and block creativity. Did you see that coming?

And, if you didn't have time to watch the whole talk, I'll quote the most important part of Dan's talk here:
And to my mind, that new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses.
And, that's really great news, I think, for writers. Because we are largely autonomous. We don't clock in and out. We might have a support system, in the form of agents, editors, critique partners, but we get to say how, when and what we work on.

For most writers, mastery is built in to the system. We are constantly seeking feedback (critiques) and trying to figure out how to make the writing stronger. Nobody stops after a first draft. We revise. We edit. These are all built into the writing model.

And we have a purpose. Often as writers, we have a brand, and are trying to get across our world view to our audience. And each book has it's own purpose, as an extension of us, of our brand.

So, how can we enhance our motivation? If these things are built in, how do we continue to motivate ourselves?

Well, we make sure that we are giving ourselves time to do the writing. That we are being effective as autonomous bosses of ourselves. That our way toward mastery is always moving forward. Learn another way to fix that flaw in our writing. Seek writing partners who "get" us and our books. Have writing partners whose strengths are our weaknesses. Read books on writing. Use the internet. Take classes. Always be learning. And, remember to keep our purposes fresh. Know who we are writing for. Know why we want this book to be out in the world some day.

And, maybe, as I am on the rote path of finishing up a draft of a novel, I will spend 20% of my time just fooling around on something fresh and new. Because that will feed my next project. Or that will become my next project. Something zany and unlike anything I've ever written.

Do you give yourself 20% time? How do you motivate yourself when you are stuck? Are you surprised that rewards won't help the creative process?


  1. Love this. I've been thinking so much about this as has come across on my blog. This has been further impressed on me by authors that I love blogging about getting back to writing for them, stories they love, with the freedom to be creative and leave the pressures and target audience and branding and all that stuff behind while they're writing. Not easy to do. But I love the idea of fooling around with ideas just for fun, for practice.

  2. Laura--the freedom to be creative can get lost, I think, when we focus too much on the market and the idea of Being Published. But I think it is most important!!


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