Mixed Motives

An inspiration piece by K. M. Lockwood

Agatha Christie -
writer of 91 novels,
 not to mention the playscripts.

This month's theme is Motivation and Challenge. I want to break it down into the two parts to begin with, and against all alphabetical protocol, I'll go with Motivation first.

Motive for murder?
Motives are the driving forces that lead to action - as any detective writer knows. The word itself derives from the Latin movere - to move. Related words include [interestingly] emotion and motor. My mind jumps from there to motor skills - and muscle memory.

Bellydancer by Sean Thomas
As a belly dancer, I try to practise moves until they become automatic. I want my sinews and joints to remember how to taksim well, to follow a sequence of moves fluidly. I believe the same applies to writing, both figuratively and literally.

On one hand, practising, creating every day makes its own momentum. On the other, actually using the hands frees up many a creative person. Get marker pens, crayons, felt-tips, chalks - something physical to connect with your younger self. By-pass the cynical adult through motion.


Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya.
 You killed my father. Prepare to die.
'Challenge' immediately summons up a duel in a misty forest at dawn for me. It has the sense of taking on something - it is the language of adversaries. I hear this a lot amongst rather fed-up creative people. Sometimes they mean an abstract concept - but often it is more personal.

Confronting  the Gatekeeper
 from Monty Python & the Holy Grail
We may see many obstacles blocking our way. It's tempting to feel you're outwitting an opponent, you're battling your way against others. It's a favourite storyline after all - the underdog who takes on the world and wins.

But I think this striving and pushing can be unhelpful. Seeing yourself always in opposition to someone else means you are not defining who you are. Like wet concrete inside shuttering - if the planks are removed, it oozes away into a lumpy mess.

Children on the beach at Kasai Rinkai Park
Listening to older and wiser people, I've learned two ways to avoid this. One: challenge only yourself to create better than you did before. Become your own judge. Two: partake in joyful competition. Think of dance-offs or racing to be the first in the water. Don't take it so seriously - mess about with friends. Challenge them with a lightness of heart.

Your two-part task
  1. Get a pen and paper, and a timer. In ten minutes, list as many motives for your writing or art as you can. Don't censor - just write. Leave in all the daft, the embarrassing, the pompous and downright weird reasons.
  2. Read them through. Consider which ones truly move you, and which belong to other people - be they real or your characters.
Child's Treasure Map of Brighton
by P. Fallows
Find your own drive. Explore your story world every day to find more wonders to seek after. Examine it with a magnifying glass, Mountaineer. Cave dive.  Let sharing the treasures you found there be the reason for talking about your work.

K.M.Lockwood is the writing name of Philippa R. Francis. She blogs quite often  from The Garret and gabbles away on Twitter as @lockwoodwriter.


  1. Great idea - totally agree that getting away from the computer to start ideas helps bypass the inner critic!

  2. How have a missed this wonderful post? Thanks KM Lockwood.


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