On Motivation

As the end of the semester draws near, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about this class.  I remember when I signed up, I was so excited to have a reason to write poetry: finally, something to keep me accountable and twist my arm a little into making sure I kept up the practice.  In the past, I’ve found that my writing is one of the first things that gets swept under the rug once I no longer have something (like a class) to keep me on track. Simply put, I have motivation issues. I don’t exercise unless someone is counting on me to do it (hence my current involvement in the fitness challenge). I’m guilted into eating my vegetables because my housemates know I would otherwise forget to buy them. I want to keep writing poetry. I don’t want to lose this groove I’m in. At the same time, I’m well aware that the lazy side of me that says Netflix is easier than writing will probably win out. So I guess my question is this: how do you all stay motivated to keep writing when you are the only one to hold yourself accountable? Do you have any tricks for those periods in life where you know you should write because God, it’s been forever, but can’t seem to make it happen?

5 Replies to “On Motivation”

  1. Sarah,
    I often find myself struggling with the same issue. Particularly when school is in session and we all have tons of work to get done, I find myself wanting to just veg out in any free time I may find. So I guess I do most of my writing (when not required by a class) during the summer or over a break. It seems like a good way to keep my brain active and keep the creative juices flowing. But even then, I don’t force myself to sit down and just write. This may sound pretentious, but I just write whenever inspiration strikes. I literally cannot force myself to write because that always produces empty work. Maybe you can try setting aside some free time to sit outside or listen to music that inspires you to get motivation!

  2. I feel that people don’t give being lazy the credit that it deserves. I am the laziest person in the world, but it’s when I’m lazy that I get motivated. (Is this a paradox?) (A contradiction?) I get most of my ideas while laying on my bed doing nothing. I think that laziness is a virtue for poets because if we weren’t lazy we wouldn’t have time to write anything. I never get motivated when I’m busy because I’m too busy to get motivated. So, yeah I think more people should be lazy.

    db pena

  3. First of all, Diego, all the points to you.

    To Sarah: for me, motivation is all about staying in motion. I have realized that I only ever write after I have done something else, so I’m about as likely to wake up in the morning and just write as I am to go to the gym before classes. I’ve done both before, but it never seems to stay in my routine. To write, I have to first go to classes or work and usually only then, once the major thing for the day is out of the way, can I sit down produce something creative (or exercise).

  4. I think the best way to make sure you keep writing is to make sure you’re sticking to a routine, and to make writing part of a routine. If you’re a morning person, wake up at 8 (or whenever you can give yourself time), sit alone with a cup of coffee, and write something. If you’re a night person, sit down after dinner or before you turn in for the night and give yourself an hour of writing time. If you can set a more or less stable routine and build in time for sitting and writing, you’ll get used to making yourself write, even if you only get good things every once in a while.

    I think the tricks to making that work are: a) having a stable routine and b) holding yourself to writing. I can’t offer any advice on it because I’m struggling to do those things myself, but I feel like setting writing as part of your day, like eating or brushing your teeth, is a way to keep yourself writing.

  5. I think it’s awesome that Evan is able to write in a routine. While I love schedules, I can’t ever just sit and make myself write something, if there isn’t already some idea in my head, it’s just not going to happen. Personally, I am most motivated by things happening in the world around me, I like to be political in my poetry because I’m not too political in my speech. If I see something out in the world that bothers me, strikes me, or is even just really beautiful, those are the things I want to remember for my writing. A lot of people keep lists on their phones, images, line breaks, etc. I keep a list of ideas for poems and just add to them when they come to me. So then when I finally do find a time to sit down and right, I can look back on all the things I wanted to write about when they happened.

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