it’s the doing that kills you



I have a motivation problem.

This could apply solely to writing, and it undoubtedly does apply to writing in some ways – it’s coming up for four weeks since I last wrote anything. But largely, this applies to Life In General. I have a problem with motivation. Specifically, I have a problem with maintaining it: oh, I’ll gladly take on all number of hobbies, challenges, pastimes etc. I’ll take them on with great enthusiasm and pour myself into the task. I’ll watch myself improve and I’ll take pride in that. I’ll probably show off a bit, too, because I do that.

And then it just….fizzles out.

I’m not sure why this happens, but it happens with almost everything I do. Japanese lessons – I studied for almost two years, and then lost the will (in my defence, I was struggling to afford the classes, but…) Sewing plushies – I made a couple, bought a load of sewing kit, and then found myself utterly unmotivated to continue. My personal history is awash with abandoned, half-finished things: the Good News twitter which I rarely update anymore, weightlifting progress which comes in fits and starts. I promised myself at the start of 2017 I would keep a basic daily diary – I did great until about mid-March and now empty pages abound. I promised myself I’d relearn how to read Tarot cards. I promised myself I’d update this blog regularly.

I can’t put my finger on why this happens. Sometimes, it’s because something becomes very challenging and I give up. (I admit to having a problem with this: if I’m not instantly good at something, I get incredibly discouraged and find my motivation crushed.) Sometimes something new comes along and grabs my attention – inevitably another ten-minute wonder. My brain seems incapable of maintaining a level of enthusiasm for anything for very long.

Writing is the only thing I have stuck with – I’ve been writing (mostly) consistently for about five years now. And even that’s a struggle sometimes. I try to form a ‘writing habit’ – writing at lunchtimes, in the evenings, early mornings, take your pick. It never sticks. Sometimes I can go weeks without writing a word. I always think about writing – I’m forever planning stories and scenes in my head. But when it comes to actual motivation, there are a great many times when I find it completely absent. (Says the Imposter Syndrome: clearly you’re not a real writer then.)

I toy with the idea of writing myself a schedule – allocating myself time outside of work to write, exercise, practice Japanese, time on the internet as well as time to relax. I toy with it, and never do it, because oops, it turns out that involves a degree of motivation as well.  It’s frustrating, especially since I can’t work out why I’m like this. Why I dive into something with unbridled enthusiasm only to find it dwindling weeks or months later. And the worst part is, I am incapable of enjoying doing ‘nothing’. I hate it. I can’t stand just sitting around, watching telly – I feel at my best when I am ‘doing’, but sometimes the ‘doing’ is so difficult.

8 thoughts on “it’s the doing that kills you

  1. I think humans like novelty and variety…we burn out on the same old same old. Writing and tarot are both things i think i “should do more of” but in reality i circle back when i need them. Personally I’m good at sitting around day to day XD but i get nervous if I’m not working toward anything for a while – for the last few years, I’ve mostly got that kick from studying for professional exams tho.

    Just recently I’ve been using to at least keep writing possible.

  2. I’m with you on this one, or at least I used to be. Sometime in my mid thirties something in my brain finally clicked and since then I’ve pretty much written or edited every day, the longest I haven’t is five days or so. I still occasionally dabble with my pictures but it’s been ages since I had a flash in the pan new passion. The big change in approach came when I started taking part in Nano, a month of ‘having’ to do it got me in the habit and it seems to have stuck. Admittedly, I am a single forty year old (near enough) with no dependents or social life so I have plenty of time. I’m not sure I’d be able to do so much otherwise 🙂

    1. Forming a habit definitely does help, I think. A friend of mine introduced me to ‘word sprints’, where for 10-20 minutes you set a timer and the only thing you do in that time is write. It’s helped me focus a lot and I should probably go back to it. And maybe NaNo is a challenge worth trying this year too…

      1. Sprints are great fun, although I only really do them during Nano – there’s always a sprint thread running on the Nano Kent FB page. I should admit that I’m a bit of a Nano fan, I had to sit out last year and spent the whole of November pouting.

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