Motivation. I can be a tricky thing to conquer (especially when all motivation has failed you thus far).
You know in your heart you want to do this (whatever it is) and nothing you say or do moves you forward to do it. It’s rather irritation quite frankly.
For me, I have a couple of things I want to be continuously motivated to do but I’m simply not:
Writing and a Personal Quiet Time
After Mari died writing became cathartic for me. I had constant ideas floating around my head. However, as time went on it slowed to the point that I rarely do it any anymore, this includes this site as well as any fiction writing.
A year ago September I started to have my personal quiet time. It went on and off since then. Then I go sick last August for two months and all motivation to do it again has vanished.
So maybe I should call myself a motivation-sloth since it seems to take forever to find any. (The movie Zootopia comes to mind. Just sayin’.)
I decided to do a search to see if I could find anything on motivation. My exact search terms were “motivation to wrote (yup, typo lol) on a blog.”
The first three listed title were:
“7 Ways to Stay Motivated to Write Killer blog posts”
“How to Motivate Yourself for blogging when you are Demotivated”
“How to Increase Motivation for Blogging”
Because the first two didn’t appeal to me, I clicked on the third one. As I sat reading the article, I was rather distracted by the terrible grammar and poor writing.
The fourth search result, “Time to Write: Writing Motivation,” ended up being a category for this blog where it listed ALL the posts under it for the term “writing motivation.” I didn’t feel like going on a search through all the posts on this website so I closed that tab as well.
The fifth one was called, “How to Find Your Daily Motivation.” I hit the bulls-eye this time.
James Chartrand is the author of this article. He starts off by stating the obvious in bolded letters:
“You know the deal: If you want to get better at writing, you need to write.”
Uh, duh. But I think that’s the point.
How many times have we heard that to develop a habit of writing you MUST do it every day? More times than I can remember. He even goes on to say, “Preferably daily. Preferably at the same time every day.”
Here’s the thing: If you’re already completely unmotivated to write, doing it daily is like, “Um, gross.”
An interesting and, I think, key line for the post reads: “This may be because we don’t stock up [any motivation] properly.”
Fascinating concept. What motivates each of us to do something? Since no two individuals are alike there aren’t any cookie cutter answers.
Here’s what James said next:
“Writing motivation doesn’t come from within. It comes from your secret stash.”
My what? A secret stash of motivation? Well, that sounds silly, right? Not really if you think about it. IF we could somehow keep motivated at all times by preëmptively getting ourselves to get this way, we could then keep it going.
The question is how do we get our so-called “secret stash” of motivation? The author, James, had read a book on this very subject. Here’s something that was pointed out:
“[The] book argues that one of the reasons we fail to develop ‘good’ habits and keep up our ‘bad’ ones is because our bad habits offer us a better reward.”
Say What? My writing doesn’t offer the pure satisfaction in and of itself to feel like a reward? I think we can say rhetorical question because if we felt rewarded for doing it we wouldn’t be asking for motivation to begin with.
If you read James’ full article you will see his example of trying to create a “good” habit but in the end the “bad” habit usually wins because it feels more rewarding in the end.
The problem arises in that we need to see immediate rewards. Not one that can take months, and sometimes years, to achieve.
When it comes, for example, to writing a book, the process does not happen over night. It’s a lengthy process in fact. From the initial draft to the numerous edits alone is a several month endeavor. then add publishing, design and everything else that goes into a published book… need I say more. The reward is holding your published book in your hand.
The point is that writing a book, no matter the length, is a long-term motivation.
James goes on to say, “Your mind starts wondering why it’s doing this daily writing thing. It’s hard. It’s tiring. Some days, it’s grueling – a real chore you’re starting to hate. And it doesn’t seem to have any immediate reward. You’re just going to keep doing this painful daily writing forever and never going to get anything out of it. That’s lousy motivation.”
I couldn’t have written that better. The point is that James is right. If the only motivation we feel is lousy, why would we subject ourselves to write something every single day? That’s why so many of us (myself included) don’t.
As writers we always hear from other writers that we must write every day but no one really teaches how to make that a realistic expectation or reality. Most of us have tons going on in our lives that to squeeze more time out for writing is a daunting task.
What if you could find a way to reward yourself daily when you write? I’m like, “Oh, yeah, where do I sign up? I want some of that.”
The question is can you find motivation through others or within yourself? If you could find it through others you’d already be motivated to write daily. The key is yourself. And not internally either. Something externally. But what?
For one person it might be as simple as a hot cup of coffee. For someone else, a piece of chocolate. For another, getting to watch their favorite show. “Give yourself a motivation you can touch” or see.
Whether it’s big or small, your motivation, not what works for someone else, must be uniquely personal to you and gives you an intense sense of pleasure or fulfillment. If coffee does nothing for you but a piece of Hershey’s milk chocolate does, go with the Hershey’s.
Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom who homeschools all your children. A nice walk outside ALL BY YOURSELF might be the primo motivation you’ve been looking for.
The bottom line is to be reasonable with yourself but to make the reward so good you can’t help but write.
James goes on to list three rules to create your motivation. The first two I’ve talked about above pretty thoroughly: 1. Personal to you. 2. Can be enjoyed IMMEDIATELY after writing.
The third one is key: “It has to be something you won’t do otherwise.”
So let’s say you sit down every night and watch re-runs of Full House. It’s your favorite show. If you know that no matter what you will watch Full House anyway, what’s the point of using it as a motivator for writing? Exactly, it can’t be this way. However, when you say to yourself, “I WILL NOT watch a single episode of Full House until I do some writing today.” This will motivate you to write because you know you want to watch it so bad. You also know you now CAN’T watch it unless you do write.
Now, here comes the best part. “After you’ve used this reward motivator technique for a couple of months, your mind will automatically associate writing in the ‘good’ part of your brain rather than the ‘painful, dreary, daily slogging to be avoided’ part.”
The point is it’ll become so ingrained in you after a while that even without your reward, or maybe the reward is no longer feasible, that you’ll still have that desire to write daily. It’ll become rewarding in and of itself that the once perceived difficulty no longer applies.
Have you used this technique before? If so, what did you use to motivate yourself? If you’re thinking of trying this, what will you use as your motivation?
James Chartrand’s article can be found by clicking here: How to Find Your Daily Writing Motivation