How to Stay Motivated When Your Biggest Fan is Your Mum
“There’s this gnawing sense as you type your script: “Maybe I’m just doing this. Maybe this is just for Mum. Maybe she’ll read this and no one else will…”” – Screenwriter/Director Shane Black
It doesn’t matter if you’re a screenwriter, a novelist, a blogger or a journalist. If you’re a writer, there will have been a time when you’ve sat at your desk with your head in your hands and wanted the ground to open up and swallow you whole. That’s the fear of failure. The fear of going unnoticed. The fear that your Amazon page will have one review from Mum, Uncle Bert, Aunt Maggie and nobody else. You have to get past that if you want to get anywhere in writing.
I’ll be 100% honest with you: my biggest fan is my Mum. She likes every Facebook post, she has reviewed my books on Amazon, and she will continue to do so because she loves me and wants to encourage me to keep going. Sometimes you need that, and sometimes you want to grab strangers in the street, shove a paperback version of your novel in their mouth and scream: “BE MORE LIKE MY MUM!”
After you’ve been released from prison/rehab, you can sit back down at your writing desk and deal with the fact that success comes in a variety of ways, and that book sales, Facebook Likes, Retweets and all of that crap means absolutely nothing. The only thing that matters is the work, so concentrate on that and forget everything else.
“Wow, this book is amazing, son. No wonder you’re ranked 1,898,732 on Amazon!”
It’s a cliché to say “If my book reaches one person, I’d have achieved something” but it’s true, and if you didn’t think like that you’d probably blow your brains out when you look at your Amazon book stats and they’re saying “Good luck with your mortgage”. The second you start thinking in terms of book sales and monetary terms, you might as well give up. The majority of overnight successes took over a decade to get there. Never forget that.
How do you stay motivated when your biggest fan is your Mum? Here’s how I do it:
Self-improvement – Look to improve on every project, whether it’s a novel, a screenplay, a blog post or an article. You should never stop learning, or wanting to improve.
Create a plan – Nothing motivates you more than knowing you have three feature screenplay ideas in your bottom drawer. Let those ideas percolate and the adrenaline will push you through your current project.
Talk about it – This blog is my way of working through my own issues when it comes to this whole writing game. Use your own blog as an opportunity to vent, brag and generally babble on about your hopes and fears. You’ll quickly find that there’s plenty of others just like you, and that’s a good feeling.
It’s all about the long haul – There’s no better feeling than looking through your past work and realising how hard you’ve worked at it and how far you’ve come. If you’re looking at writing as a long-term gig, you know that it might take you 10 screenplays or 15 books before you see the benefits of your hard work. But it’ll be worth it, so keep punching, Champ.