I have assembled notes and little sticky post-its. I am well-prepared to write a seminar paper. Yet I've been putting off starting all day in favor of grading (yes indeed!), working on next semester's syllabus, and working at the nearby food co-op (that part wasn't optional). Finally I've realized that, as I've grown more used to the idea of a professional community, presenting at conferences and all that - and as I've emphasized to my students the importance of keeping an audience in mind as they write - I've significantly diminished my own motivation for writing a seminar paper.
Who's the immedidate audience for this paper? A professor who, I am fairly confident, already has a sense of my intellectual abilities - so the "prove yourself to the prof" motivation isn't there. Am I only writing this paper for myself, to work through ideas about genre floating through my head? That's too idealistic for motivational purposes. I've chosen a topic that isn't directly related to my main research interests, and I can't imagine adapting it into a presentation for my university's grad conference this spring, unless I took the topic metaphorically (which [a ray of hope!] they do tend to encourage). I wonder whether a few of my friends in the class would scoff at the idea of circulating our seminar papers among ourselves, just to expose them to a broader audience? Hmm. Must combine all these semi-motivations into one propulsive force.