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Analyzing Your Motives, part 1 - The Motive Center
October 23rd, 2004
10:49 pm


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Analyzing Your Motives, part 1
Back from a very good workshop in New Hampshire! It provoked some interesting thoughts on motives and writing, some of which I may post here later. I realized that while I have discussed motives here, I haven't discussed (at least in any detail) how to measure them. So I'm going to post a few exercises here, freshly tested.

Since motives are nonconscious (below conscious awareness), you may wonder how you measure these things. There are two ways that work best. First and most accurate: Projective measures, which allow you to project your unconscious feelings and assumptions--like the Picture-Story Exercise, where you look at vague pictures and write whatever stories you want (also known as the TAT). Second, but easiest to use: patterns of your life, focusing on motive-related behaviors and thoughts. See more after the cut...

Motives have been described as "what you think about when you don't have to think about anything." In other words, since they are about what you enjoy, then your thoughts drift naturally into motive-related paths if all else is equal. If you want to try and measure your motives without using a formal measure, here is the first of three exercises you can try:

1. List what you like to do for fun, including writing, and why you like it, if possible.

In other words, if you like to golf, say, do you like it because (a) you like testing yourself against your handicap and bettering it, (b) it's fun to hang out with your friends, (c) I like trying to beat people, or (c) I like drinking beer and driving golf carts like a maniac? You can do the same behavior out of different motives (and vice versa).

If you list "reading," what genres do you like to read? Different motives relate to different genres.

One person in the workshop today said "I see a pattern here! And it's kind of depressing." No, not necessarily. Try not to over-interpret. The key here is to look for the pattern of what makes your activities fun. More later...

(2 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:October 28th, 2004 07:25 pm (UTC)

Better late than never, huh?

(or, look how big of a geek Jami is - and how proud of it she is, too!)

Writing - because it's a chance to explore different aspects of life without having to physically experience them. It's a chance to BE other people for a while. It's portable, lasts as long as I have the patience for, and it's private. I like hearing others' feedback on what I've written, especially when they like it and show me what I did well and what needs work still.

Reading - because it's another chance to explore different aspects of life, with less work than writing, and with another person's view point. It's educational and entertaining at the same time. I like pretty much all genres (although I prefer fantasy, with sci-fi a close second).

Sewing - Watching a project evolve from scraps of fabric and scribbles on a piece of paper to a finished set of curtains or a doll is an amazing thing. It's another private hobby, and one that allos me to explore different creative options.

DDR - it's a challenge to keep improving how well I perform each song. It's a much more social activity, but dancing with other people adds to the challenge. It's addictive, to be truthful, there's always time for just one more song...
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2004 06:57 pm (UTC)

Re: Better late than never, huh?

Hmm...Okay, let me see. Writing is typically associated with the Influence motive, for obvious reasons (you want someone to read it!). Other things you say support this: "I like hearing others' feedback on what I've written, especially when they like it..." Having a positive emotional effect on others is one of the Influence indicators.
Now the next phrase "show me what I did well and what needs work still" could be a mix of Influence and Achievement. Wanting to improve in general is Achievement. But unsolicited help ("show me what I did well") is, again, indicative of Influence.

Reading: all genres doesn't help me too much! But most fantasy is strongly Influence-motivated: the classic Monomythic story of person not knowing their destiny getting a mentor (unsolicited help), crossing a river to new worlds, fighting (impact), carving out a destiny or fame (impact on world), defeating the evil (who is often an evil leader, note, power vs. power), etc. It depends on the fantasy, of course, but most fantasy is about conflict. SF, depending on the type, is usually Influence or Achievement.

Sewing. Hm. Despite being a "private hobby," you imply that you are creating something that is visible, and therefore has an impact on others. It's not just mastering the skill, it's about creating something from nothing--scraps to a doll. I could be off here, or it could be a blend of two motives: Influence and Achievement.

DDR (Dance Dance Revolution? Not the RAM chips, I presume. (I'm pretty ignorant of the details here.) Well, social is usually Affiliation. "Challenge" can be Achievement or Power/Influence, depending on what the challenge is. Is it a challenge to master the performance or to do it in front of others? Are you trying to synchronize with others (which might be Affiliation), impress others (Power), beat others (Power), or improve your performance as demonstrated by doing it better than others (Achievement)? It could indeed be a blend again of Power and Achievement: "improving" Achievement, "performance" Power.

This suggests that your strongest motive is Influence/Power--not a surprise, really, given the writing bias of this group--with a significant dash of Achievement (I should have noted "self-education" is Achievement-oriented), and a relatively small amount of Affiliation. A very common pattern in the published writers I studied!

Correct my interpretations on any of this. The key question to ask is always why is this fun? What makes it fun?

Hope that makes sense!
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