This morning I woke in a funk and the last thing I felt like doing was any kind of exercise. Seasonal allergies are kicking me senseless and so are the antihistamines that I take to combat the itchiness. They make me tired (yes they’re non-drowsy) and extremely irritable. My hands have been achy and my thumb joints sore (shelving books is hard on the hands!) The last thing I wanted to do was put on my running shoes or hit the yoga mat. Ever have mornings like this?
Experience has taught me that I will feel better if I don’t give in to the feelings and instead get moving. I hauled my body out of the chair and onto the yoga mat. And I did feel better after stretching.
People wonder how I find the time or energy to write. Good question. How do we find motivation to be creative, stay healthy, exercise, or chase our dreams? To get off the couch and do what we know will make us feel better or satisfy our deepest desires?
I’m not an expert by any means but here are a couple of tips that keep me going.
- This morning I chose to exercise but because of my low motivation and sore body, I decided to do a much slower and shorter exercise routine. I listened to what my body was telling me. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point of actively paying attention to me. If I’d chosen to push it, I may have quit or convinced myself that I didn’t need to exercise. Sometimes slow and easy is the way to go. Write one chapter instead of ten because that’s where your mind is at. Choose one meal to eat healthy. Walk one block instead of ten. You are then one chapter, one meal, one block, closer to your goal instead of pushing unrealistic expectations and ending up frustrated with nothing to show for it.
And then a good day will come along and you’ll shoot for the moon and what happens? You actually grab it.
2. After years of hit and miss, I’ve also learned how best I work. I like deadlines. They are like silent challenges that spur me on. So NaNoWriMo is perfect for me. But schedules and outlines make me feel claustrophobic and brings out the perfectionist. The tape in my head screams Failure If I don’t stick to the schedule. This is never productive
Pantser, that’s the kind of writer I am. What is that? It means I write by the seat of my pants. I do not follow an outline. I know the basic story I want to tell and where I want to end up but all the things in between I let the story/characters dictate. I’ve tried and tried to outline but it gets overwhelming and starts to feel like work and I freeze up. I’ve embraced the pantser in me. This is who I am as a writer, no point fighting it. What kind of worker are you?
As I wrote this it dawned on me that my pantser traits translate into how I work best in a non-writing sense too. I’ve tried to set daily goals or schedules but I never follow them and end up feeling like a loser. As with a story outline, scheduled days don’t motivate me. I end up worrying I won’t do it right and then get nothing done.
You may be different and what works for me doesn’t work for you. The idea is to know yourself and how best you work. What motivates you to stick with something?
3. Finally, I love storytelling. Escaping into my imagination has saved my sanity over and over, especially during this pandemic. Writing is not work for me.
What do you enjoy? Find something you love and are passionate about and then pursue that. Motivation can be built in to working on something we love. It’s play.
To find the motivation you need take it slow on the days it hurts, know yourself and how you work best and then keep going. Trust yourself. And don’t forget to play.
PS Life comes in seasons and if at this point, all you can do is get up and get through the day, I want to assure you that’s okay. I have lived through those season too. Take care of yourself and rest.