Motivation and the Writer, Part 5: Bouncing Back

Since May, I’ve been writing about Victor Vroom’s theory of motivation and how it applies to the writer set. In short, this theory is all about expectancy, instrumentality, and valence.

In my last post, I explained the death of a writer’s motivation as one that is often due to failed instrumentality; that is, when a book has been written and it fails to sell (the means do not lead to the expected end), motivation suffers.

If you need to catch up, go ahead. Read it all here.

Before we can move on to the last bit about motivation (valence, or value), we need to take a look at what happens when…well…nothing happens.

We’re capable of writing that great novel. We have the ideas, the time, the ability. We put our pens to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and we write until we reach “The End.” Finally, after completing our novel, spending time editing it and having it edited, writing another draft or five, we’re at the point where we’ve decided to sell it. We are ready to strip naked our souls and let the world gawk at us.

The problem is, no one is gawking (the novel doesn’t sell).

There are several things we can do at this moment, and one of them involves the delete button. However, I think I would be correct in saying that this rejection of our work is something that all writers have in common. And what were we told about all those other writers who failed at first?

We’re supposed to “bounce back,” right? We’re supposed to try and try again.

Here then is a trait of personality that not all people have. It’s called resilience.

GumbyResilience is that deep quality that allows some people to be kicked around by a cruel life and yet still come back like Rocky or Gumby. Resilient people won’t let failure overwhelm them and suck dry the marrow of their motivation.

What are some of the factors that make a person resilient? How about a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback?

You see, even after the means to the end—the instrumentality of an effort—fails, resilient writers are blessed with an outlook that allows them to move forward in time and not focus on failure.

Simple to do, right? Well, what if you’re not a resilient person? What can you do?

The American Psychological Association (APA) has listed a few tips to help you build resilience.

  1. Make connections (that whole “social networking” thing existed before Twitter, you know)
  2. Help others (nothing feels better than that)
  3. Maintain a daily routine (write, edit, repeat)
  4. Take a break (just not for years…try it for a day or two and take a walk on the beach or in the forest)
  5. Learn self-care (really, if you don’t feel good, you won’t want to bounce back)
  6. Move toward your goals (did you set a goal in the first place?)
  7. Nurture a positive self-view (you are good at what you do; how many people have actually finished a novel?)
  8. Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook (again, how many people have accomplished what you accomplished?)
  9. Look for opportunities for self-discovery (keep learning and learning about yourself)
  10. Accept that change is part of living (we know that, but there are many people who are resistance to change)

There is a lot of help out there to help you bounce back after failures.

The last bit of Vroom’s motivation theory has to do with valence—what do you value?

Until next time…stay strong.

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One comment on “Motivation and the Writer, Part 5: Bouncing Back

  1. Pingback: On Resilience | Guild Of Dreams

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