16 Feb 2011

Driving Me Crazy...Word of the Week

(Motivation noun: desire to do; interest or drive/incentive or inducement. Psychological definition:  the process that arouses, sustains and regulates human and animal behaviour. Etym: From Latin `Motare` to move/shake/stir, from proto-IndoEuropean meuə-)

I've been climbing for nearly two years now. I've been to most of the indoor walls in London* plus climbing in the Peak District, Portland and the Alps last summer. I even went hiking everyday bar 2 days on my honeymoon. I should now add that I'm terrified of heights. Yes, that's right, I'm petrified of being more than about 3 foot off the ground.

So a) how did I end up climbing and b) what the HELL has this got to do with writing I hear you ask. Good questions - and there are two reasons, both questions in themselves - and they revolve around that rather cheesy, management speak-esque word `Motivation` which is the WoTW. Why did I start rock climbing and in what universe could it possibly help my writing!?

Well, the answer to the first question is around what could drive me to the extremes of paying to scare the shit out of myself on a weekly basis. I have one word for you - husbando! Yes, he and I, are complete polar opposites when it comes to interests and personality types. I'm loud, lazy and un-athletic, he, quite frankly, isn't! At some point in our (now) nearly 9 years together, this was going to bite us in the ass a little in terms of our relationship - after all we'd started to lead almost entirely separate social lives outside of work + spending time together. It suddenly seemed to be rather a concern, particular as our wedding was looming at this point. 

In April 2009, H decided that he wanted to try rock climbing and by jove we were going to do it together. I'd like to tell you that I was incredibly enthusiastic and supportive about this suggestion. But that would be an outrageous lie. Still we struggled on, past our `taster session` at The Castle, onto a 4hr intensive climbing course + eventually began weekly climbing sessions. By the time we'd been climbing for 3 months, I think i'd feigned every possible injury bar none in order to attempt to wriggle out of going. These excuses included such gems as "I need to have long nails for the wedding, so I can't climb in case I break one" and also "I have period pain so I can't climb, it's the LAW". Husband was not fooled, and continued with his cause, manfully facing up to the prospect of endless public domestics + coaxing a tearful histrionic wife down from the top of the climbing wall. "Hold on to the rope" and "Let go of the wall" became regular phrases in our conversations. I think The Castle think of me as `that screaming maniac`.  Oh yes, did I mention the fear of heights?

So anyway, fast forward to 2011, we're climbing away, I don't mind getting up early, *and* last sunday I climbed my hardest climb yet (a 6a for those who have a clue about climbing grades) - for which my lovely long-suffering husband rewarded me with Chanel make up!

So what the fecking feck has this bloody got to with writing, can hear you all hoping I might be getting to the point soon. To recap, my motivation for scaring the shit out of myself was to get closer to my husband. And when you're all that stands between your loved one and if not certain death, but at the very least the strong possibilty of broken bones, then trust is at the very heart of your relationship. Learning to let go + trust someone with not just your heart but your entire physical being is the most extreme way of offering yourself to someone. I can absolutely say that husbando + I are closer because of climbing - because he's seen me test myself to my very limits for him (see more on this below) and because I've learned that despite all my fears, I can trust him. So a very powerful driver is love.

The first lesson then, which can be applied to writing therefore, is learning about what motivates and drives you. Look for motivation outside of writing. What motivates you at work, what motivates you and gets you excited generally in life, why do you do what you do? What makes you think hey! that's cool, I want in on that. That's where you're going to find what motivates you beyond all else and will keep you writing when you want to give up. 

My motivation is love and making people happy so that's what keeps me writing! I love entertaining people with my blog, if I've made one person smile or think or most importantly, value themselves a little more, then I am so incredibly happy - that's my job done. And maybe it sounds twee but sometimes that's the only thing that lies between me and not getting up in the morning when the black dog bites.

Second lesson about motivation from climbing is just bloody putting yourself out there/facing your fears. I know I bang on about this - and maybe I'm just really trying to convince myself of this but what's the worst that could happen when you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. It's fucking scary writing + doing this blog + putting myself out there for criticism but how else do we grow + learn? And you know what it's bloody empowering. No one is going to reach out and say `Yes, you're special, I'm going to tell everyone about you + your writing` you need to be your own helping hand. I'm not saying be an arrogant prat but just dare a little more, push yourself a little harder. Add a new, crazy character, put a random plot twist in the book - I ended up with a pivotal scene in my book as a result of this. Have fun, live a little - it's meant to be enjoyable. If you're bored of your writing, chances are your reader will be too! Every time you're scared writing, just think about what drives + motivates you and then ask yourself, "what's the worst that could happen", chances are, it's not going to involve a broken bone!

I know that's been a long post so if you got this far, thanks so much, I hope at the very least it was interesting - I've put myself out there for your judgement. I've enjoyed writing this anyway! Don't forget to tune in on friday for an interview with the lovely Siren of Brixton, plus another guest photo essay, this time from Graffiti Living. Plus I am thrilled to announce that I will be featuring an interview with Gaz Parry - 6 time British climbing champion in a few weeks, check out his blog here.

Thank you and good night

Stupidgirl has left the building

* My fave climbing walls are West One in Marylebone, The Westway in Shepherds Bush and obviously The Castle! Other good places to try are The Arch and Mile End. Enjoy - and let me know if you check them out.


  1. Great piece. I can't tell you how much I admire you for sticking with the climbing.Most of us (or just me?) give up pretty quickly if wwe try something new and we're not good at it immediately. That's another thing to remember: skill has to be developed, it rarely comes instantly and often 'liking' for a task only comes once you have skill.

  2. You should be very proud of yourself - I have yet to conquer my lifelong fear of heights. As for writing, you're doing pretty well so far in my book so keep up the good work and know it is just one way of keeping the black dog at heel, if not completely at bay.

  3. Siren - aww thanks! That's a good point actually. I think in this day + age we have a lot less patience as things move so fast, and so we're a lot less patient with ourselves as a result. We forget that it takes time to learn things and it's not going to be perfect first time. If you're not failing, you're not learning.

    Mum/GiW - thanks!

  4. True, we all have to face our fears, or at least those things we find distateful, like getting up in the morning and going to work (once THERE it's usually OK) But nothing ventured, nothing gained and it sounds like you've gained a lot. but next they'll have indoor rinks where u can run with the bulls, walk on hot coals, or eat from a really, really, messy, gross buffet. This week face the dragon! Next week stare down that guy for the last good seat on the bus! Inspirational!!

  5. Writing is all about delayed gratification and I am completely rubbish at that, so I've had to almost retrain myself. My motivation is making people talk. Making them emote, whether they're angry or sad or amazed at something. I am a feedback whore, so it's no surprise that I only finished the first novel because I was posting it online (not a good idea if you then want to publish).

  6. To experience fear and yet conquer it is true courage. I'd say the fear of judgement when being open about yourself when writing is harder to face down than physical fear - on both counts I have to say that you're one though chick! You probably don'y realise the depth of the resources you have within you to cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

    I find it very revealing that your motivation to write is about pleasing others; it's something of a truism that writers are very selfish, focusing on self expression, to the cost of all those around them. I have some thoughts as to why that may be, but they might be best communicated in a more private channel.

    As always, I'm impressed by how open you are in your writing, it makes painfully aware of how I hide behind a mask of knowingness and irony, both when writing and in conversation. Hmmm, time to go and reflect on things quietly I think.

    Courage mon brave!