Friday, April 28, 2017

The Gentle Parenting Philosophy that Will Help You Enjoy Writing Again

I'm a huge fan of the gentle parenting philosophy. One of the GP pages I follow on Facebook had a post discussing summer guidelines for kids. You've probably seen these. They look something like this:

One of the comments on the photo created an aha! moment for me. Someone pointed out that this strategy only serves to makes screentime the holy grail while it makes everything else into a chore that stands between them and the prize. Things like creativity are inspired and should never be treated like a chore.

The gentle parenting philosophy points out that intrinsic motivation is always better than extrinsic motivation. So instead of, "I'm doing something creative so I can watch TV," you get, "I'm doing something creative because I love it."

Which one do you think is going to have better results?

I realized this applies not just to parenting, but to my writing life too.

I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo right now, taking a much more relaxed approach than I have in the past during November NaNoWriMo. My goal for Camp NaNoWriMo was an easy 500 words a day with no pressure to really even "finish." I'm having so much fun writing! I'm falling "behind," but I've written more this month than I have in probably the whole past year. (It's hard with a baby, okay?)

My experience this month is a stark contrast to my November NaNoWriMo experiences. The pressure became too much and I dreaded writing some days. I may have finished the race, but on the other side of the finish line, I felt bitter toward my manuscript. And the worst part? Every time I've done November NaNoWriMo, I stopped writing at all for months afterward because I felt so burnt out.

I write better and more often when I'm intrinsically motivated by my love for writing and my love for my story. As soon as I add extrinsic motivation, the passion dies and my writing life takes a critical hit.

Keep your eye on the real prize. The pure magic that happens when you open your imagination and write. That's it. Don't be motivated by a deadline or your dream of publication. You'll make the deadline. You'll get published. But you'll accomplish those things because you love to write.

Jessie Mullins is a YA writer and mommy blogger. She's been in love with her now husband since before high school, and they have an adorable one-year-old who loves books. You can find more bookish things on her writer Facebook page.

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