Saturday, February 4, 2012

Motivation? Have you got yours?

  By LoRee Peery

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light upon my path.” —Psalm 119:105

I can thank my mother and early school teachers for creating in me the love of words. Words motivate me to treasure God’s words in my heart. And, words can motivate me to write words of my own.

What motivates me to write? The love of words draws me deeper, and to ask questions. I search for the purpose of life, and a happily-ever-after for the characters I create, based on their spiritual growth as they seek the Lord’s will in their lives..

We hear a lot about motivation, especially regarding our characters. As a romance author, I need to discover what motivates my hero and heroine, what drives them.
So what exactly is motivation?

According to Webster’s it’s “a systematic and scientific analysis of the forces influencing people so as to control the making of their decisions.”

As a Christian, I have scriptural principles regarding motivation. I must serve the Lord wholeheartedly and I sometimes fear I have failed in my productivity due to laziness, my own mediocrity, or my lack of studying craft. But I still strive for the attitude of perfection so I won’t embarrass the kingdom of God. In all that I do, I should believe that I am working wholeheartedly for the Lord (Colossians 3:23), trying to please Him rather than the people I come in contact with.

Rodale’s Synonym Finder, which I use instead of a thesaurus, lists motivation as a synonym for the noun motivate (also incentive, inducement). I could say, “no duh” here.

Motivate as a verb lists many words that pull different mind pictures: move, prompt, actuate, incite, provoke, prick; rouse, arouse, stir up, excite. And the vernacular: turn on, set on fire, kindle, enkindle, inflame, fire up, light a fire under, get going or moving; instigate, start, trigger, bring on, cause; cause to do, make do, impel, drive, force, railroad;  propel, push, shove, give a kick or boot; spur, prod, goad, egg on, urge or urge on, encourage; coax, wheedle, cajole, twist around one’s little finger, manipulate, influence; persuade, talk into, convince, bring around.

Whew! Get the picture of how I can get lost in words?

The most challenging for me as a writer came from If I Can Write, You Can Write by Charlie Shedd. It’s probably one of the first books on writing I purchased. He asks the reader/writer: What are you burning with?

Answer this question for yourself. When you write from a caring heart, the writing is not such hard work. You’ll also write with greater clarity and be more helpful to your reader. Next questions: what is first among my concerns? What do I care most about? What’s number one on my agenda?

John-Roger and Peter McWilliams refer to motivation as a WANT or a Heart’s Desire in DO IT! Let’s Get off Our Buts.

Motivation is the reason why a character does something (no duh again). Motivation must arise from a combination of the character’s personality, physical and psychological characteristics, past experiences, and moral nature, as well as from the specific situation in which he happens to find himself. When the character’s motivation seems real or plausible, his action seems convincing; otherwise, the plot may seem phony or arbitrary. —Laurie Henry, The Fiction Dictionary

I have several more quotes on motivation, a topic often found in writing character-driven stories. For this group of words, I’ll close with another quote from the foremost Author in the world: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and My Redeemer.” —Psalm 19:14

Sage and Sweetgrass, book 3 in the Frivolities series, is scheduled for release February 24. (LoRee would love for you to check it out.)


  1. So, is anyone else out there snowed in today? We woke up to a world of heavy white, tree limbs down, and snow continuing to fall. As long as the power stays on, I love to be snowed in. And we have a couple grandchildren here to keep us busy.
    Thanks for the spotlight, Shirley.

  2. We had our snow a couple of weeks ago. It's beautiful today. We can see the Cascades, which still have plenty of snow.
    I think it was Flannery O'Conner who said she wrote to answer questions. Sometimes the motivation of my characters is to find answers.
    Ann Gaylia

  3. Good point, Scribbler. I enjoy the search for answers, but I have never been one to ask "what if?."

  4. Well said, LoRee! Words definitely stir up something positive in me, as I'm sure they do for all writers.

    Sorry you're snowed in...but isn't it beautiful???? :D

  5. It's sunny here in Oregon today. We even have our door open for a little while. Now, that's one way to get motivated.

  6. I LOVE the snow, especially when the male cardinals come to the feeders. I always think of the blood Jesus shed and sinners being washed pure white. Thanks for your visit, Delia.

  7. Great post, LoRee, and I'm nearly finished with Sage & Sweet Grass (I've been blessed with a pre-read!) it's marvelous, my dear! God bless, and keep up the great work.

  8. Oh, thank you, talented Marianne. You are a blessing to me.

  9. LoRee... I have discovered a close look at motivation to be one of the keys to finding out who you are, and where you're going. Both in "real" life, as well as fiction. But oh, what an illusive thing to get hold of sometimes! How often do we find ourselves struggling with something confusing, only to ask, "Why am I doing this?"

    It's the same way with creating characters. I can come up with plots, and character-traits, etc. But when I get to the "Why would they even do that?" It suddenly becomes very clear why they should (or shouldn't) do it. But it's strange how easy it is to overlook motivation until you come to a dead-end somewhere, and then have to figure your way out of a worse hole than if you had made it part of the creative planning in the first place.

    Hey, maybe we should have an idea court. "Nope, that's one's out... no MOTIVE."

    Oh, yes, and I love being snowed in, too. It gives you permission to avoid all those outside things that interfere with amazing peace and quiet. Great time to bake cookies, too. Blessings and congrats on SAGE AND SWEET GRASS... I'm really looking forward to reading it!