Motivation in writing comes from prewriting, prewriting, prewriting. Motivation occurs when you have done the necessary planning steps so that when you sit down to write prose, you have had time to subconsciously play around with the ideas and you only have to retrieve and type down the ideas, not to think them up. Motivation occurs when you have a very detailed long outline, filled in with citeable notes, by your desk that guides your writing. The citeable notes are short phrases (written in your own words) that remind you to insert the appropriate references into a particular section.This is excellent advice, as it is every time we hear it. (Single freely admits that Boice et al. give some of the same advice). She also recommends that you not write more than 4 hours a day and claims that this will lead to an enjoyment of the writing process.
Here's why I brought up the inner two-year-old. You can make a two-year-old sit in a chair, just as you can make a writer sit in a chair. You can give her a book or something to play with, just as you can sit there with a blank computer screen and no internet. You can even do the old parental "false choice": "Do you want The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Avocado Baby"? Chances are, she'll fall for one or the other. But on some days, she won't. What you can't do all the time is control her thoughts. I submit that your brain is--or can be--that inner two-year-old.
Maybe Brain accomplishes a lot when you're sitting in your enforced writing chair. Maybe you get a lot done most of the time. But sometimes, Brain decides not to kick in then and has a delayed reaction.
Example: Say you've followed Single's/Boice's/Sylva's advice and have sat at your desk despite little productivity that day. You ignore the recommendation letters waiting to be written, the papers waiting to be graded, the class prep--everything. You get in the car (and you're already behind and anxious about it, because you haven't reread the work or graded the papers that are due back to students because of the sacred writing time) and start your 45-minute commute to campus.
Suddenly, your brain comes to life. Ideas are washing over you; it's a Flannery O'Connor epiphany and no mistake. "I've got to write this down," you think--except that you can't. You get to campus and go straight into class. Seven hours later, after you've taught, gone to meetings, and met with students, you have a dim recollection of something transformative that occurred to you this morning, but everything isn't there.
That's why I'm wondering this: can the repetitive action of sitting down to write tame the mischievous two-year-old that is your brain?
And a less frivolous question: does it work to