All Aboard! Here’s a list of the cheesiest motivational quotes ever! Just kidding!
No matter what task you are taking on, habit you are trying to break or routine you are attempting to establish, motivation is sometimes hard to come by. When you lose that wind in your sails you feel disheartened and discouraged to carry on. To add to that ebbing frustration, you hear from the mountain top all of the sure-fire ways to get back on the horse that seems to fail you as well. This only deepens the hopelessness.
I am not going to be some kind of snake oil salesman and tell you that I know the solution to the problem of lost inspiration. There is no tried and true way that works for everyone. But one of the things that I can offer you is perhaps a nudge in the right direction out of the pit of despair you have fallen into. So try taking these steps before, during or after a bout of inspiration and motivation.
Step 1 – Admit that you are flawed, just like everyone else.
This seems useless and will only worsen your condition but I want to take a second and dig into the root of some of our discouragement as writers. We are constantly surrounded by the idea of overnight success, masters of an art and the perpetuated idea of ‘naturals’ amongst our peers. This publicized idea pushed by the media to sell product is incredibly detrimental to our own self-image. Along with the harm it does, it is also a bold-faced lie. All ‘naturals’ or ‘overnight successes’ had to work hard at their craft to get to where they are. They have flaws, issues and bad drafts just like you. So take a step back, admit that you are not perfect and be kind to yourself. Practice makes perfect not perfect never practices.
Step 2 – Accept that Motivation Comes in Many Forms
The idea that motivation needs to be in the form of a poster, cheerleader or life coach is absurd. We are all wired differently and find our motivation coming from multiple sources of emotion. There can be positive motivations such as doing it for the kids, for the lifelong dream or a promise you made someone. There are also more competitive and sometimes negative motivations such as spite, a desire to do better than a peer or a race to see who writes the most words. While most people will say that the negative or competitive ways are not the way to go, I disagree. Every person has a right to be motivated by whatever gets them to create. Think of how much art out there would not be if the angry painter hadn’t been trying to make a statement, hm?
Step 3 – Seek out Inspiration that Works for You
You could read a thousand motivational books and still find nothing that gets you going. I have found that my inspiration comes from a movie break or from falling down a Pinterest hole. Images are what do it for me. Perhaps for others it is listening to music, taking a walk or going to a favorite spot in the city. During those down times, experiment and see what draws a creative reaction from you. Sky’s the limit and there really is no wrong way to seek out your inspiration.
Step 4 – Hoard the Inspiration
This step is for when you finally find that gusto again. During your good days take note of the environment you are in, the type of things that inspired you and maybe even take five minutes and gather up a few notes, pictures or otherwise to be used on those off days. Having things on hand that you found while you were incredibly motivated can sometimes revive that feeling. So hoard that treasure trove of inspirational pictures, motivational quotes and notes of thoughts that will keep you going.
Optional Step – It is Okay to Take a Break
If you find yourself worn out, exhausted and just plain unable to handle seeking out that motivation or the work it is okay to take a break. This isn’t me saying that you should stop and do nothing ever again, but taking a reasonable short break to recoup before trying again is incredibly important!
If you follow these steps in whatever order you think works for you, I am sure you will find some way to get back up in the saddle and continue on your creative work. It’s not easy and as a fellow writer and artist I understand those bad days and hope that this helps you through them.
Good luck this month if you are taking on the NaNoWriMo project (and even if you are not) and may inspiration find you wherever you go!