I have many thoughts about Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE and how its theories of motivation intersect with indie publishing. MANY THOUGHTS. So many I have to break this into parts.
DRIVE is about Motivation 3.0 – the autonomy, mastery, and purpose that drives our intrinsic motivation to work, play, live, and create. Motivation 2.0 is your typical carrots-and-sticks – monetary rewards and punishments that supposedly get people to do the things they should. But the research shows carrots-and-sticks don’t work for anything other than rudimentary, routine work. And MOST 21st Century work is non-routine… and thus our creative sides will be unleashed if we just understood Motivation 3.0 a little better and incorporated it into businesses and lives.
THIS BOOK, people… turning my brain inside out.
First off, indie publishing is filled with autonomy, writing is driven by mastery, and the art of our work serves the higher purpose of soul-fulfilling work (as well as interconnectedness with our readers). Seems obvious, yes? And it’s true – being an indie author is off-the-scales Motivation 3.0 work.
Q: I’ve always wondered why writers who are insanely creative in their art struggle so much with marketing – it’s like their creativity instantly dries up. Why?
A: Turns out when you reward creative work with money you drain it of its intrinsic rewards.
“If-then rewards require people to forfeit some of their autonomy.” – Dan Pink
Wait… you mean, the mere act of SELLING my ebooks acts as a damper on my autonomy? The fact that I’m striving after dollars inhibits my ability to be creative?
YES and NO
Pink found that art without limits is most creative; art by commission is less creative; and art with commission but also with freedom was as equally creative and satisfying as unpaid work. And people who are Type I (motivated by the intrinsic satisfaction of the work) almost always outperform Type X (extrinsic motivators) in the long term.
Remember when I said I commission work from myself now? That’s me being a Motivation 3.0 boss who says “I need a work kind of like THIS… now go use all the Autonomy and Mastery you have to make it happen.”
But what about Purpose?
This was the first LIGHTNING BOLT to strike me out of the book (hence, the #1 at the top of the post – there’s more).
Penname writes for money, right? Total mercenary girl. Studies the market like a fiend. Writes just what the readers want. (Never mind that she’s learned to LOVE that work – Motivation 3.0 is never very far away when you’re writing). But there’s a key part of Pename’s work that you might not realize – Penname’s revenue doesn’t go to my checking account – it goes to my own Special Cause. BOLT OF LIGHTNING – that’s the Purpose! I work like crazy to make Penname successful because I want the benefits for my Special Cause! And in a completely unexpected turn of events, the fact that the money goes somewhere else is exactly what unleashes the final leg of that triad. I’ve literally never worked so hard, with such zeal, in my writing. That Higher Purpose DRIVES ME… with the best kind of motivation. Penname’s already got full Mastery going on in her work (striving to learn a new genre and not just write in it, but EXCEL – Penname is in the top 20 authors of her genre)… She’s got tons of Autonomy to make it happen (I’m my own acquisitions editor)… but the PURPOSE is what puts it over the top.
Penname, Mercenary Girl, has an even higher Purpose than SKQ and her works! And this explains at least part of why Penname’s so successful (and driven).
Does trying to make your business succeed (dollars in your bank account) automatically mean you’re working at cross purposes to creativity? I think there’s a danger of that – it explains partly why writers’ creativity dries up the moment they think about marketing/selling. But it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. When marketing/selling is approached as a Purpose-infused project, one with autonomy to try it the way that works for you, and that you strive to have mastery over… suddenly, you’re harnessing that Motivation 3.0 power. The one that unlocks the creativity you need to succeed no matter what market you’re writing in.
SKQ is learning from Penname what truly purpose-driven work looks like.
TL;DR – read the book: http://smarturl.it/DRIVEDanPink