Motivation and keeping focus on your work

Hello everyone!
I wanted to ask you all how do you, personally, find your motivation? How do you stay focused on your work?
Back in 2018 I was working on a story with choice script called “The Soul of God” and it got a decent amount of attention, in fact it got over 700 clicks on my, looking back now extremely short and unpolished, demo. More than that, everyone in the comments were very supportive even in spite of the game being gender-locked and overall it was a delight to be around that thread, in my opinion. This served as a big motivator for me and the desire to see it through fueled me for a while!
However, as life ran its course, I found myself less and less motivated and I became very disapointed in myself when I saw all of those nice comments. At the end of the day, I gave up on the project and never really bothered to update anyone on it.

Now, dumb backstory over, I didn’t mean this little piece to be an attention grab or anything like that, it was more of a way to enlighten you all as to why I’m asking these questions. I want to get back into Choice Script, I even have a more fleshed out story ready to work with, and it is one I am very passionate about, but I am very scared the same mistakes of the past will come back. Obviously I’m a wiser man than I was before, but the thought lingers still.

I’m looking forward to your replies, and thank you so very much for taking the time to read this far, even if you decide not to reply! Love you all!

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Welcome back @Kirumototep.

Beyond the first step of identifying the problem, the next step would be to identify the resources available to help you.

  • A WiP thread seems to be a huge motivator for you. This is great, but as you know, keeping such a thread on track is a lot of work. Can you give yourself micro-goals to complete within the WiP thread to keep it on track … something like an update every other month?

  • Family, friends and colleagues are another source of motivation. Sometimes when the echo chamber inside your head is at its worse, it is better to listen to someone who you love and/or trust completely.

  • The resources available in this community are here for you too. I run a monthly “Writer’s Support” thread, where writers can come together to help each other. Sometimes seeing you are not alone in your fears, struggles and day-to-day life helps.

  • There are smaller contests throughout the year where you can enter and (hopefully) deliver smaller projects. Sometimes these types of activities provide a lot of motivation.

The resources are here, you’ll just need to use them and find out which help you stay motivated.

One of my personal internal motivations is to get the vision I have of the story I want to tell out there, so others can see what is in my mind’s eye.

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Short answer… I don’t.

Long(er) answer, it depends. I might switch to some other aspect or part of the story that strikes to me fancier at the moment, or switch to something else (story related or not; sometimes you just need to do the laundry, too!) completely until I feel motivated again; some days just are more writing days than others, especially when there’s equally important other things that need doing.

And the need to get something done by a deadline is quite a motivator as of itself, especially as long as you have any idea of where you’re going with it (or the subject is something you could form a semi-coherent thing of in your sleep. I believe you’re asking about creative writing, but academic writing is writing too – and there’s none quite as effective motivators for pulling off 8k-word essay out of thin air in ten hours than having an impending deadline, and the course being organized only once in two years) which also is why planning at least the major plot points can be very beneficial even if you majorly make it up as you go (which, incidentally, is pretty much what my non-IF writing process looks like). Also, again incidentally, planning is one of the things you can do when the writing itself feels more like a chore!

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oh wow isn’t this relatable…

I usually do something very simple like listen to music I feel is somewhat connected to my story that I know is going to inspire me, or I start by doodling my charactrs a bit, that usually helps me get in the mood.

Unfortunately I’m also easily distracted and although it’s not like I don’t want to continue sometimes it just feels easier to procrastinate, and day by day this builds a distance between a person and their projects in my opinion. Having said that, not feeling like writing and pursuing a project for a certain period of time is ok and a natural part of the creative progress, and going all out all the time is just going to worn you out even faster.

This is why I think finding a middle ground is very important. As I’m writing my comic, I rarely go a day without doodling my characters, whether it’s dumb expressions, dumb ship stuff or more complex things anything that helps me feel closer to it is important. I might not be drawing the pages right now cause I have lots of things going on with my life and not much time, but these little things help me never really abandon my project and even tho I’m not doing anything of substance, I still strengthen the bond I have with it.

It might not seem like much but if you manage to retain that bond, you’re going to be able to go back to it once you find the strength again. That bond between creator and characters/story/anything else might not be enough to make you get up and actually make time for your project, but without it it’s going to be 100 times harder.

for me at least

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Ah, thank you so much for such a wonderful answer!

Having a goal like updating the game every month, or every odd month, sounds great! I had it in me before that I needed to provide constant updates in regards to the work I was doing, and looking back, I believe it did cause some stress to build up, which led to a rapid decline in motivation…

My friends are very supportive of these misadventures of mine in the world of writing, and they were even helping me get it done at times! I couldn’t and to this day can’t ask for better people at my side!

The resources in the community and contests are definitely news to me, though being realistic, the contests are something I’d problably like to avoid for now, until I’m more experienced!

Thank you again for your reply!

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Oh, wow, this did touch quite some nerves I didn’t even know I had!

You are definitely right about some days being a no good for writing! This one stung quite a bit, looking back, I really did push myself to try and get things done proper even though I just wanted to do something else, like hang out with friends…It’s like I told myself I couldn’t do it unless work was done.

Deadlines and other types of writting seem like a curious idea to explore! I don’t tend to really write much academicaly, but It is something to consider indeed!

Thank you for such an eye opening reply!

This! All that you said resonated with me aswell! I indetify the most with the bit about going all in at once. That, most likely, helped in burning me out…

I did have my own, uh, off-writting inspirations, let’s call it? The same way you have your drawings, I’d blast music with my friends and we’d imagine the world of my story, and the lore behind it all! It was so fun, and it felt like a mini dungeons and dragons session, in a silly way!

Even with this, however, I think I didn’t bond enough with my work. Burn out made it seem at times like I didn’t really HAVE to write, procrastinating like you said seemed far more attractive, and overall it seemed like I was subcounsciously badmouthing my own piece.

Oh man, I didn’t expect to have a reply that made me nostalgic like this one did, ahaha!

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I feel like the problem is that the thought process goes way faster that the writing process so while we love thinking about our stuff actually sitting down and slowly writing it sounds less appealing.

don’t get me wrong once i start writing I can’t stop all day, it’s so fun, but it’s all a matter of deciding “ok, right now, pencil paper, sit down, do this. now” yk?

Oh the imagery I see when I listen to music is dope but just seeing it move and taking form in my mind is already so rewarding that sometimes it feels like “I don’t have to start working right now in order to feel good about my project… I can do it later…” and the reward seems to come on its own without really having to put it out there on paper…
Until… you realise you can’t really share what you are creating in your head. realising this is healthy but sometimes it’s too late and the fuel you felt while listening to the songs or doodling ad stuff has already been burnt.

this is all autobiographical and is also helping me realise things as I’m wrinting this post. I hope this can help and not only sound like a rant lol

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For me, it really helped setting up a tumblr for my WIPs! I was scared at first, thinking about how I will manage a whole blog, but it proved to be a really amazing experience.

People asking about the plot, the characters, certain scenarios- it all helps me flesh out my stories and the nice messages keep me motivated. Seeing the friendly reactions also encourage me to write snippets/sneak-peaks on my own. Of course it hasn’t been all sunshine, I had to face many problems as well (due to misunderstandings and such), but all in all it is a worthwhile experience.

Also, I feel some kind of obligation when people support me, even though they are mostly understanding and know that writing isn’t always easy. So rest assured, the people reading and liking your work will wait patiently until you are ready to write again. Only knowing that there are people supporting you no matter what, helps me keep myself motivated.

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Oh yes, a thousand times yes! I couldn’t have put it better myself! All I can say is thank you for sharing! A lot of what you expressed was swimming around in my head but I just couldn’t really find words for!
I’m very happy that you’re finding this usefull for yourself aswell, because It’s been very inspiring so far reading the replies!

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Yes! The expectations of others was a very big motivator, indeed!
The idea of a tumblr - a blog - for the work sounds intriguing! In all honesty, I can’t see myself doing it, not right now at least, but It sounds so interesting and it might prove worthwhile in the future!

Thank you so much for your input!

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Hi there!

I have both ADHD and OCD, so I can somehow relate. I’ve had little writing projects before - purely for fun - that I had to let go, and I honestly can’t ascertain which part was due to my own laziness and which part was due to my condition. I’ve been scared for a while after that. I felt like everything I am was crippled and that I have no chance of being successful in writing.

But I tried again. I found a way of writing I was most comfortable with, and themes that I was very passionate about. Once I found that, I’ve finally managed to do well. I completed film scripts and short stories, and it was so refreshing.

And then this. After stumbling into IFs, I realized that this is something that my ADHD brain would be very good at. Splitting branches and significant choices - that’s basically how my mind works, and it’s an amazing feeling to get to do it.

I’m pretty sure I’m rambling again, but I just want to say that if it’s something you’re passionate about, head on straight even with the doubts. You might have to take a break along the way, but passion can never be faked. It will always be there with you even after the mistakes that you would do in the future. I mean, we’d all make stupid mistakes anyway whatever we do, so why not go with the ones you’re passionate about? :wink:

I think, the most important thing to remember here is that while motivations from others would come a long way, it is still your own decision and passion that would allow you to turn an opportunty into something great.

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Thank you so much for sharing!
I agree, 100%, that passion is a very strong factor in the creative process, and more so in the old motivational department! I realise now that I wasn’t as into my project as I could, and It was a project that was more loose than I’d like to admit. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it! And I believe to this day that It’s a story that has much potential, however I can admit when I see my heart and soul weren’t totally into it…

Having said that, I do intend to turn this new story into a Choice Script game! It is a story I’ve carried with me for a long time, I just never thought about turning it into a playable thing!

Reading my own reply, and your account of what you have been through, I’ve come to accept that trully loving your work, and, above all, being passionate is a big part in completing it, and It is something that I’ll definitely hold deep when I start climbing the mountain again, so to speak!

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I’d like to state that there’s nothing inherently wrong with just creating stuff in your head and never writing a word if it. I mean, if you want to share it, then sure, you have to type it down at some point, but if you just like creating stories and that makes you happy, and you feel content with that… then there’s no need to stress about actually writing it. (You can even talk about it with your friends without actually writing it, if that makes you happy. You don’t need to become a publishing author if you don’t want to, you can still create.)

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ah yes absolutely!
What I said was only referring to people like me that actually want to get it out but need that push, for me for example not doing it makes me feel hollow in the long run… Because I want to do it! It’s just… procrastination man… I hate it : /

still what you said is very true and I think it’s also something very easy to forget, it’s ok not to write something if just thinking about it is enough for you, don’t let how other people express their ideas pressure you in expressing yours in a way that doesn’t feel right just because that’s how others do it!

Just because other people publish doesn’t mean you have to for your ideas to be good! : D

There are a few things I do either to get or keep myself motivated:

  • If I’m struggling through a scene/section, I move to a different one that interests me more. Writing a-chronologically means I sometimes have to make some edits later, but at least I get some writing on the page
  • I use brackets to tell me what I’m supposed to put in places that I don’t feel like doing right now [CHARACTER A TELLS CHARACTER B ABOUT THING]
  • If I’m really struggling, I make an outline of the scene I’m working on: which characters are in it? Which variables matter? Which previous events will affect this interaction? Chronologically what is going to happen in this scene (complete with splits)?
  • I have found that starting with reference photos and describing the physical scene helps me get started, and then it’s easier to dive into the action

Other things that make the writing easier which makes me more likely to keep working on it:

  • I have a detailed story calendar that tells me exactly what I need to write (also makes it easier to pick a new scene to work on if I get bored!)
  • I also have detailed reference materials (pics, diagrams, numbers about everything, etc)
  • I have a “master list” where I keep links to everything else, record possible ideas for later parts of the story, and make a to-do list for things that need to be tackled (edits to make, features to implement)

I’m not always writing, but I find that working on other aspects of the game (planning, making character boards, even just thinking and imagining!) are good ways to relieve the fatigue of actually coming up with The Words, and that helps me stay motivated too.

When I do the actual writing, I listen to music that is either really upbeat (Blinding Lights on repeat for literal hours) or thematic to help me feel the ambience of the scene. Rainymood is also useful! It just plays rain and thunder sounds, very neutral background noise, good for focusing.

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I’m not a big believer in motivation. For me, discipline includes sitting at the chair even when I’m feeling unmotivated. My motivation comes and goes, but I try to keep moving.

When I was younger, it was easier to put things off because I thought had plenty of time. That helps me too. I tend to hate quotes, but one I like is, “We must choose between one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” Maybe my motivation is not to have the pain of regret? Sorry if this isn’t helpful @Kirumototep

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Oh, I have all sort of rituals. I scroll through TV Tropes, checking out some of the things that are like my own characters, I plan out the big reveals at the end of the story (I have thought of, like, seven different ways to go about it, and I always say “okay, this is the one I’ll go with” until I start thinking again). I also listen to music, like most everyone has mentioned. Hell, I even recently adore a certain song by Beret for one of the story’s canon romances, which I’m 99% sure doesn’t fit the theme of the couple but by God it’s a banger.

They don’t all work, and it’s not abnormal for me to go several days thinking “okay, i need to write” and then going “… but maybe later”, but it’s still stuff that gets me in the mood, and at least allows me to think out a few scenarios for what I want to happen eventually.

I find sharing with others my plans for a story also motivate me, even if it’s only saying “so this guy is named XXX, and he’s an YYY”. Hearing other people be excited, or even curious about what I’m doing is such a nice feeling, and it reinforces the idea that I’m putting my time to good use.

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Ah, your later entries do intrigue me a lot! The first half of your suggestions are things that I actually did, one way or another, so high five for that! But the story calendar, reference materials, master list…those are things that I…I honestly don’t know how I never got around to doing!
Thank you for your wonderful advice!

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No, no, I can definitely agree with what you said!
Sometimes you have to push through, I understand that, and I tried doing it! I think the problem with my execution at the time, when I tried to implement “discipline” into myself, was that I wasn’t taking the game as seriously. In my mind it was more like a side thing I wanted to tackle but hey! If it doesn’t work, it’s no hair off my back, which backfired as I mentioned because I ended up pretty sad when I saw the comments supporting me and thus I sat there reading them knowing I was just giving up.
I think discipline doesn’t come naturally and, for some, like me for example, it’s something that comes either with age or with experience! I’ve had my negative run-ins with discipline in the past, and I’d like to think that now that I’m older that I won’t have the mindset I had before!

Great reply, thank you very much!

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