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Getting to Specifics - The Motive Center
January 28th, 2005
10:00 pm


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Getting to Specifics
Dan wrote:

...OK, I can visualize my problem... now what?

Maybe that's another entry, or maybe it's in the book, but I find that what I need is concrete advice, even of the "tips and tricks" variety, if only to get me pointed in the right direction. It's all very well to say "You have no activity to get you to/through the blocks"; but I need (and maybe this is "help" of a sort) is some idea of what activity I need to be doing.

If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; if you teach him how to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime. But if you only describe the fishing equipment and how the pieces fit together, he's just going to start gnawing on your leg.

Fair enough. The key here is how you set goals for yourself, and the Problem-Solving model helps identify which things you do spontaneously, and which you have to do consciously instead. Especially since Influence-motivated people (that's you, dude--I know you) are not as good at intutively setting challenging-but-attainable goals as the Achievement motivated.

I do indeed have some suggestions in the book, but what the hey, let's brainstorm a bit here.
Probably one of the best things you can do is build a regular rhythm of writing. The more regularly you write, the less likely you are to stop--it becomes a habit. Several ways to do this:
1. Set regular goals for yourself. Some people can write every day, some can't, so don't think that way--set relatively frequent but manageable goals. Toni used to write 600 words per day for four days a week, with a fallback goal of 2400 for the week. Others write every day, or every weekday. You have two main variables here: frequency of session and amount. Write a mere 200 words every day and you'll have 72,000 words (a novel's worth) in a year. I know a doctoral student who set herself a goal of one sentence a day, due to massive writing fear. She didn't stop at one sentence, but that was the most she could face. Some blocks can be worn down this way.
2. Build associations. One classic cure for writer's block: only sit at your chair when you are writing; the second you stop, move away. After a while, sitting down generates desire to write. Thanks, Pavlov! But this is hard to do when you spend time at the computer for other reasons. Some people use totems, lucky items, whatever. Superstitions that work, work.
3. Engage other people to help, either a writing group or online readers. Knowing you are writing for someone can help propel you. Research indicates that a public declaration of a goal increases the chance of accomplishment by 25% or more. But still set a goal for how much to write a week--goal-setting improves odds much more (+78%). Lots of groups on LJ. I'm eccentric in my patterns because of travel, but I'll read.
4. If you overcriticize yourself ("the watcher," that nasty internal editor), which could be a Personal Block as well as negative anticipation, what some people do is to write in a way that they can't see what they are doing. Dictate, turn down the screen, or (as one person I saw did) put a pad in a garbage can and write longhand, so you can't read the prose, just write it. (The can was clean.)

Just a reminder--goal-setting isn't arbitrary. You have to find a goal that is a balance of challenging and attainable, and be willing to shift it to keep it that way. If you get better, raise it; if something major happens to get in the way, lower it.

There's more diagnosis possible here, of course--what kind of block? But here's at least a few suggestions. Hope this helps a bit.

Current Music: Mind Games

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:January 31st, 2005 12:22 pm (UTC)
That's more like it. 8-)

Seriously, that's the kind of helpful "tips 'n' tricks" thing that I am looking for -- a quiverful of things to try to move myself off the starting block.

But I always thought of myself as more Affiliation than Influence motivated. Oh well, you're the professional....
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Date:January 31st, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC)

Multiple motives

I didn't say you weren't Affiliation motivated (I think you probably are), just that you definitely were Influence motivated. Everyone has all three; it's a matter of degree. Your reading choices largely support Influence as a major motive, incidentally, in case you hadn't checked that out:

Thriller/spy novel = Influence
History, biography = Influence
Mystery - depends on the kind. Hard-boiled = Influence; puzzles = Achievement
Large-scale world SF = probably a mix of Influence ("big" worlds are usually also epic stories of conflict) and Achievement (interesting things you learn)

I also love those "history of small things" books--I think of them "odd corners of history." I read them on planes a lot. The way you describe them relates to influence, too: "the significance in world events" is a giveaway.
Date:February 1st, 2005 08:01 am (UTC)

Re: Multiple motives

Well, you certainly have me pegged. You psychological types, with your penetrating insights into personalities...

Actually, I like your motivations scheme, always have, even though I sometimes wonder if it leads to a kind of "everything looks like a nail" approach to thinking about people.

What would I have to read to reflect my Affiliative motivations?
[User Picture]
Date:February 1st, 2005 08:13 am (UTC)

Re: Multiple motives

Yeah, I definitely don't want to oversimplify people. What I like about motives is that there are a small number of things that interact in complex ways, but it isn't all about motives. Motives are basic, deep drivers, which means they are a long way from specific actions and behaviors. I see motives as helping to group complexities of people into larger and useful patterns. For that matter, Henry Murray identified forty-some motives, most of which are simply irrelevant to most people most of the time. The big three are the most common, not a comprehensive set.

One model I used in a previous life is the "Iceberg Model" which put motives at the bottom (hard to see, hard to develop, very deep), then put traits over that (like attention to detail, introversion, intelligence), then self-concept (social role and self image), before you even got above the water! That to me is a fairer view of motivation's place in the person.

Affiliative people like reading stories (or for that matter watching movies) about people in relationships, which could include romances or Jane Austen. Some writers blend all three, like Dorothy Sayers; what I find interesting about hers is that she kind of moves between motives from book to book. Five Red Herrings is a classic train-schedule mystery so aptly parodied by Monty Python, and most appealing to Achievement motivated people as a puzzle, though she has some great characters. Gaudy Night, on the other hand, is all about growing up and having a relationship, and is strongly Affiliative and Power oriented.

Incidentally, most people assume the Affiliative are "people people." I don't. I think Influence people are even more so. Affiliative people might be more concerned about whether they are liked; Influence motivated people think about how to work with the other person. You're an engaging and charming guy, but that is more commonly found in the Influence-motivated than the Affiliative!

Date:February 1st, 2005 12:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Multiple motives

Aw, shucks.
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