Trying to get motivated!
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
What do you do when you need to finish a job you really don't want to do but need to finish? I am trying to get motivated to finish my book project once and for all..by June if possible as my husband is retiring and we are selling our house, scaling way down and moving into a fifth wheel. I'd like to put this project behind me but I want to finish it. Maybe I will just start on Monday and try to work one 2 pages per week........so hard to start again..but I do have some ideas rolling through my head.
Also, I need to do something with all my paintings, etc......ugh!
I'm a "productive procrastinator" sometimes - I check a lot of things off my list but it often isn't the thing I'm supposed to be doing! To start on it there has to be something else on my list I don't want to work on lol. I'm getting better though.
I like that you set a deadline for yourself, that can help get things done! Can you break it down into smaller chunks, so you can hit little milestones and feel confident about your progress? For example, if I'm building a website, my checklist for the day is smaller parts like design the menu, or pick out the fonts. Then get one page done. Once that momentum gets going it's easier to keep moving! Just focus on your smaller goal of 2 pages a week and don't feel too overwhelmed by the whole project at once.
The hardest part is just to start. Talk yourself into sitting down with it for just 25 minutes, see where it leads! If this project is meaningful for you to finish, then you will make the time. You can do it!
I know that feeling. The hard part is the beginning. If you get over the starting block, then things normally start to flow quite naturally.
To me is like forcing myself to do sports or start a diet (I suck at both things...) or not to drink the fifth coffee of the morning. I regard it as a pure act of self-control - and I take pride in being able to exert self-control.
With my kids, we talk about the “nutty horse” and “the clever rider” who live in our brains (we all ride, so we know what that means!). The nutty horse is easily scared and bolts away from everything.. He doen´t want to do work. He wants to eat apples and oats all the time and sleep in the shade. He is a big and strong animal, who could overpower us so easily. But we have a clever rider in our brain who can train it, control it and make it do his bid. He is small and not so strong as the big horse, but he knows what is best and is so much more clever! And if the clever rider controls the nutty horse, they form an unstoppable team.
That´s how I talk to my kids, but funnily, the image helps me too. What I want to say, I guess, is that sometimes you just have to force yourself to start - just purely do the “right thing” even if you hate it and you don´t feel like it and you would rather do something else altogether. The “flow” of things normally takes over very fast - 15, 20 minutes, as @carriecopa suggests, and then you´re over the block and you should be sailing.
I have faced this in my job as a minister having to produce a new sermon every week for the last 34 years (and as I've worked at improving my art skills I have constantly been struck by how much the writing process is similar to producing a piece of art). After all these years, I can't say I've solved the motivation problem -- and in fact I am writing in this forum instead of working on my sermon right now! A couple of things have helped me deal with it better over the years, however.
I choose a short amount of time that seems manageable (ten minutes, for example) and sit at my desk for that amount of time every day even if I just sit there. I even use timers. Most often, once that short time is up, I can keep going because it's the start that's tough.
I have a "writing hat" that I put on only for writing. I sit at my desk, take a deep breath, and put on my hat. And when I'm done, I take off my hat. It's simple and silly but it helps get me into that mode of thinking.
Like @smceccarelli, I created a visualization of a creature that is tempting me to not write and when I am sitting at my desk feeling unmotivated, I actually imagine that creature sitting on my desk and I talk to it convincing it that I won't listen to it.
Of course, the one thing that has worked without fail is having a Sunday morning deadline when I have to get up in front of people to preach and the fear of standing there without a sermon! So creating a deadline with public consequences would be the best motivator. Give all of us in the forum a date when you intend to post your work so that we'll all be looking forward to seeing it and you'll be embarrassed if you have nothing to show us.
One side consequence of my writing procrastination problem, however, is that I get a lot of drawing done while I'm procrastinating over writing so maybe you just need another thing you want to accomplish and you can play the two off one another!
@smceccarelli really like the horse/rider analogy, excellent! Love your work, btw
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
@carriecopa Great idea to break it down. I am actually thinking of trying to do one or two pages a week. I'm startin gtomorrwo so you can take me to task on it if you don't see anything by the end of the week :-) Although I might re-thumbnail it first so, it would be thumbnails this week, not pages.
@smceccarelli Looks like ou need to write and illustrate that book :-) Thank you fo rthe mental image and the analogy!
@demotlj Great ideas! Love the writing hat concept too. Thanks for sharing your system. If I give myself weekly deadlines, maybe I can get this thing done!
Obligating yourself somehow—yes, with a deadline—but to someone, might work. Get your husband involved, or some friends from your writers group, and have them check on you each week to measure your progress. But if this project has become something you don't want to do, then you have to find a way to turn it into something you do want to do. No amount of pushing by friends and family is going to motivate you on a personal project or self-published book unless you, yourself, fall in love with it again. Instead of the work involved, maybe focus on the end product. Keep your eyes on the "light at the end of the tunnel".
You mention re-thumbnailing. You will also have to come to a point where you allow the work to be finished, not perfect. Maybe watch Jake's video again on the subject. Again, not sure if this is about the Uncle Carl book, but what I saw was pretty good. No need to redo anything, just move forward and allow this to be a stepping stone to better work in the future. I know it is "easier said than done", trust me. But you may find that you like the end result as it is now.
Good luck! : )
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
@tombarrettillo Thanks Tom :-) It is the Uncle Carl book. And I have watched jake's video again. Love it! That's one thing that keeps me going. My main hurdle is that I am tring to figure out how to do the text. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I am going ti start right this minute. I'll post here as i go but won't be able to take anymore critiques :-) If I do i'll fnd something t change again and it will start all over! Ha! I think what I have learned from this is that I have to make the final decisions, good or not, to make my book. It's kind of liek th story of the man, the boy and the donkey.
Good advice, everyone!
What motivated you to start the project? Did you have anyone in mind you were writing for (e.g. a niece, grandchild, etc.)? Maybe it would help to imagine someone reading the book, and how much they would appreciate it. I come up with ideas & motivation much more easily when I think of the person I am drawing for, like my nieces and nephews.
Another thought is to check on your creative bank account. Spend a little time with things that inspire you (just make sure to set a time limit!).