For the Sake of Momentum: Unsexy Tips to Help with Motivation
In the middle of the night when I should be sleeping, but am instead wondering where does childlike enthusiasm goes when I really need it, I make the mistake of google searching posts about staying the course. Sometimes I search for posts with a more woo woo emphasis other times I go for something with more of a tough-love-coach-rubbing-your-shoulders-during-a-pep-talk-feel. In either case I’m looking for someone else, a random internet person, to know me better than I know myself at 3am, which is usually not going to turn out well. Any attempt to seek internet wisdom – even this post – is most likely going to take you out of the realm of the solution and plunk you back into the realm of the problem. Nevertheless, if you’re like me and find that lots writing on the subject of getting your groove back tends to make you feel worse rather than inspired here are some tips for finding your way back, especially if your coping mechanism involves reading about getting your groove back!
1. Avoid any writing that starts with a basic physics lesson calling up bodies at rest and in motion – I absolutely cringe whenever some piece of writing designed to motivate me adopts the tone of a ninth grade science class. I never found those classes to be especially motivating, even if they were interesting or useful. When someone starts applying the laws of physics to your stalled project it’s time to close that tab and browse the list of songs that hit number one the day you were born, or broke up with an ex or got your car towed late one night. The information will prove far more useful and music has more likelihood to act as a motivating agent than a canned science lecture.
2. Seek out inspiration from folks doing what it is that you want to do, but choose your inspiration wisely. As a writer it’s not hard to find people who talk about being writers and that’s cool, but I have to be super careful because I know talking about writing is not the same as writing. There are folks who are constantly talking about writing, the various exercises that reinvigorate writing, things they used to write, things they’re fixing to write later and things they wished they had written. Again, all of that is fine, except, well it’s not writing. As a writer who likes to write, I can’t get down with that sort of inspiration. But it can be difficult to parse all of this out when it’s 2am, I’ve run through all the available episodes streaming on Netflix and I still haven’t found that elusive “groove”. The people I tend to be inspired by as a writer are folks who disappear into their creative caves from time to time and reemerge sometimes weeks later with a completed project I’ve never heard them tweet or blog about endlessly. Those are my people!
3. Cultivate a mutual admiration society – My mutual admiration society consists of my mom, my partner and my writing partner Raymond J. While the mom and the partner aren’t actually in my field, they both tend to be very ambitious about their own projects, which are quite impressive. With Raymond J, we’re both writers, pop culturalists and rabid consumers of the best and worst offerings available for streaming on Netflix. Raymond J and I bounce ideas off of each other, pass along half formed concepts the other might be able to fully develop and douse each other in the cheap cologne of unwavering praise and faith. Everyone can use a couple of people like that! The ones who greet your late night epiphanies with rapt attention and enthusiasm even if they sound a little bananas (hey, I’m going to blog about office supplies and nothing else!) to you at the time. Few things more motivating like talking big game with a partner in crime at 11am instead of embarking on another pride swallowing, soul crushing side hustle hunt!
4. Indulge your bitterlicious side (but only for a little while) – Another quibble with regard to motivation writing is – to paraphrase Raymond J – “it relies on the phenomenon of two strangers assuming the best of each other.” I’m sure many fortunes were cultivated and project completed on the wings of good feelings, positive thoughts and state of lovingness, but hey a few other empires were birthed by flexing the old “I’ll show them!” muscle too. Now I’m not suggesting you cultivate your bitterlicious side to Vader proportions, but I am suggesting it’s not entirely terrible if it’s used sparingly – like garlic – when other methods just aren’t working. Bitterlicious is a sometimes food.
5. stop trying to motivate yourself – Sometimes you don’t really want to finish med school, or a novel or even a conversation. Stop trying to make yourself do that which strongly repels you. First, you ought to parse out whether it’s just doldrums or an all-consuming disdain. In cases where it’s the latter there is really no reason to continue. Quitters might not prosper, but, hey neither do fools!