A Compendium of Monday Motivations

 In All About Writing

We kick off the year with the five top Monday Motivations of the last year while Richard seeks fresh motivation.

New Year’s Motivation: A declaration of intent

Beginnings are the sweetest things. You stand at a threshold – of a year, of a marriage, of a life – and anything and everything seems possible.

The infant in its crib could become a Nobel-winning physicist, a brilliant lawyer, an innovative entrepreneur, a loving father…

We stand for this week, and perhaps another week or two beyond this, on the threshold of a new year, which, like all its predecessors, is filled with the heady perfume of possibility. We could, this year, make that trip to Iceland… or the Antarctic… or up the coast of Norway into the southern reaches of the Arctic Circle…

A blank page is also an invitation of the most beguiling kind. What words could we fill it with! What original invention! … continue reading


Monday Motivation: The pulsing heart of your next story

I want to think about passion today. That irrational, unmanageable force within you that urges you to do something possibly mad and whose consequences you can’t and don’t and won’t weigh.

Think of someone with depression so overwhelming that their passion for annihilation drives them to leap uncaring to their deaths.

Think of someone caught in the coils of love or of lust – who can always tell the difference? – who will sacrifice everything to be with the object and the subject of their passion.

And think of a writer in whose breast booms the need to tell a story… continue reading


Monday Motivation: Respect, bro

Today I want to pay my respects to those of us – those many millions of us, around the world – who in some way or another wield the written word in the course of our daily lives.

I’m not talking about the megastars – the Stephen Kings and the Ian McEwans of this world, who win the big prizes, and head the best-seller lists.

No, today I’m addressing those of us who write… anything. Technical manuals for mine processing equipment. Advertising copy. Corporate newsletters. Academic papers. Creative fiction that we know will never be published, but that we can’t stop ourselves writing because that’s what we are, we’re writers… continue reading


Monday Motivation: You can’t write hotly about hot things

John Banville is the author of fifteen critically acclaimed novels one of which –  The Sea – won the Man Booker prize in 2005. Until he turned to writing novels fulltime, he was a journalist. But whether journalist or novelist he understands one critically important feature of compelling writing.

I heard him speaking in an interview on the BBC. His interlocutor was quizzing him about growing old – he’s turning 71 later this year. “When you’re writing about something like passionate young love,” he was asked, “is that difficult?”

His throw-away answer, brief as it is, contains a piece of advice that every writer should write down and pin to their fridge under a number of powerful magnets… continue reading

Monday Motivation: Doubt is a writer’s best friend

Doubt sits at the right hand of all writers. We spend a day at work, struggling with the challenge of translating our ideas into words on the page; struggling, too, with the perhaps more difficult task of identifying the specific emotions that we imagine our protagonist will experience; struggling to achieve a satisfying balance between the elements of character, plot, description.

And invariably, as we review what we’ve written, we feel that the perfect paragraph we’d sought to write has eluded us. I can’t track down the source of this idea – which seems to me undeniably true – but here’s its essence… continue reading


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