Previous research has devoted a great deal of attention to describing the long-term patterns and relationships among trait-level or situation-specific variables. The present discussion extracts kernels of wisdom, based on the literatures on language anxiety and language learning motivation, that are used to frame the argument that choosing to initiate communication at a particular moment in time can be conceptualized as a volitional (freely chosen) process. The result is a degree of willingness to communicate (WTC) with the potential to rise and fall rapidly as the situation changes. Previous research based on both qualitative and quantitative methodologies is described that demonstrates the complexity of the processes involved in creating WTC. It is argued that methodologies must be adapted to focus upon the dynamic process of choosing to initiate or avoid second language communication when the opportunity arises.