I’m not proud of my writing process.
I’m not inspired to do good work. I’m primarily motivated by punishment and negative reinforcement. Are you aware that punishment and negative reinforcement aren’t the same thing?
Punishment is when you do or don’t do something and a bad thing happens. Like I drop the ball on a deadline and my editor yells at me (ha. I’m not successful enough to have an editor unless you count Mary.) or I miss a due date and my professor docks my grades.
Negative reinforcement is actually something you want. The “negative” refers to the taking away of something. It means that something you do stops something bad. In experiments involving lab rats this can mean that pushing a lever will make a shrill noise go away. In my case it means that Mary stops nagging me or I stop feeling guilty about making promises to people and letting them down.
If I go throughout my whole life never being good at bowling, I’ll be ok with that. I can bowl without reserve, nonchalantly flinging that ball down into the gutters, coming in last with a score under 100. But I cannot face the possibility that I will not be great at writing. I want Lauren Hudgins to be a recognizable name, one belonging to a damn fine writer. The terror of failure makes me a procrastinator, makes me give up before I start. If I have a fresh idea for an essay or short story, I put it off, thinking I could do it more justice later when I’m a better writer.
I entered an MFA program because I wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t writing. I need the threat of bad grades, disapproval, and self-loathing to keep going.
Rather than working out of zeal and passion, I work out of fear. I write when the fear of what will happen if I don’t write overcomes the fear of writing something terrible.
6 thoughts on “Demotivated Confessional, Demotivational”
Great post! I’ve heard that fear can stand for false evidence appearing real.
To find your voice, you MUST exercise it! And i follow well-cherished advice called “Shitty First Drafts” (http://bit.ly/sh1stdrafts) which i think you will enjoy. It’s from Anne Lamott’s “Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” (http://amzn.to/12yCVF4) where she talks about fear as well.
Wow. That’s some serious self-awareness 🙂 Like very much.
I second ownyourpassion’s words. You’re a great writer now and I can’t wait to read more!
Lauren Hudgins you are a damn fine writer! You’re doing it 🙂
Fear is useful, but at its core: it’s a primal emotion driving one to survive.. It sounds to me that you want to do more than just survive (pass your class), you want to thrive (be exceptional). I would suggest something: do something that’s hard for yourself when it comes to writing. Take a risk, write about an uncomfortable subject, set an uncomfortable deadline. Greatness doesn’t come from fear, it comes from facing your fears and overcoming them.