Motivation and Self-discipline

January 11, 2014 at 10:28 am | Posted in Health, Mental Health, Writing, Writing and Life | 12 Comments
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I have a friend who has all the daily tasks and responsibilities involved with her grown-up family and grandchildren, as well as her friends, that I have.

This friend has taken on the challenge of posting a blog entry every day since two months ago. And she is meeting that challenge brilliantly.

NaBloPoMo icon for January 2014

NaBloPoMo icon for January 2014

My friend also works four full days a week at a demanding job. Being an age pensioner, I no longer have to work for a living so, theoretically, I have more time and energy for writing than she does.

One of my goals is to write at least one (just one) blog post each week. But I am having trouble maintaining the effort I need to achieve that goal.

What is the difference between my friend and me?

I think there two differences, both of which relate to what my friend has and what I lack: motivation and self-discipline.

I used to have both of those in abundance. I was a school teacher and principal in a remote area of Australia. I maintained a household whilst working long hours –and  usually for six days a week. I got up early and went to bed exhausted every day.

busy-bee

When I retired from teaching and discovered writing, I was unstoppable. I wrote short stories, both fiction and memoir, I wrote poetry, and articles about various aspects of writing. I entered writing competitions. I wrote two children’s novels and a longer Y.A. novel, and began a second one.

Now, I can barely write more than a page or two in my journal. Why? Where have my motivation and self-discipline gone to?Missing motivation

I have so much that I want to write: to finish my second Y.A. novel; to write my fiction and memoir stories, my poetry, my father’s life story; to write articles for the magazine I publish and edit for my writers’ group.

The past year has been difficult in several ways, and I have been emotionally and physically drained by it. But I don’t know if that is the reason for my lethargy and my current procrastination.

No Excuses

I don’t want to make excuses. And I also don’t want to give up my writing. I have a lot to say, much to pass on, and I don’t want all that to die.

Somehow, I have to find what is holding me back. I have to regain that strong motivation and self-discipline I used to have. I have to find a way to again become fully engaged with my dream.

DO IT

P.S. I wrote this in my journal. Then I realised I have actually written a blog post! And, in doing so, I have my target post for this week! Well, it takes all kinds, doesn’t it?

Have you gone through a similar experience of losing motivation and self-discipline? If so, how did you regain them, and the rhythm and energy to write again?

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12 Comments »

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  1. I know what you’re talking about Linda. I’ve experienced it quite often as well. I’m not sure what causes it, but for me I’ve discovered a couple of things about it that have helped. Firstly, not to chastise myself and load the expectations. The moment I do this it seems to get worse for me. So, secondly therefore, I recognise it as a kind of a season I’m going through, in other words, there’s a naturalness about it. Thirdly, as I let go of wanting to change it, it seems to have a life and time of its own and begins to slowly restore itself in me. Yes, I help it along, but I think it has a momentum of it own. I’ve just found this helpful in those moments of lethargy.

    I admire your friend and you as you described all you did as a teacher and principal, but I suppose there are contexts that impose themselves on us and we just have to be motivated and disciplined, we have no option. Maybe, just maybe, we’re at our best in such contexts, I don’t know, but that’s debatable isn’t it? Strength Linda.

    • You write words of wisdom, Don. I think that many of us have too high expectations of ourselves. We think we can keep going forever at the same pace. That does put pressure on us to perform and pressure of guilt when we don’t.
      I will endeavour to lower my expectations and allow myself to let go and let the natural flow assert itself.
      Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

  2. Your news years resolutions for the year. You should write them down as a writer would and pin them up where you can see them so that they aren’t just passing reflections as a lot of my thoughts are!

    • Thank you Paul – I do understand the need to record the things you want or need to do. It is so easy for them to be pushed to the background otherwise.
      No resolutions though, just goals. I had already written them down as a poster before I wrote this blog. Now I have to remember not to put pressure on myself to achieve them – just to do the smaller things that will work towards them.

  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself Linda but don’t forget to record even half a page a day and most important of all – get out of the house!

    • Thanks Debbie. As we discussed the other day, I will make a real effort to keep a record of what I do write, how many words per day – and getting out of the house is my best strategy for actually getting my writing done.
      Thanks for your support. It means a lot. 🙂

  4. I’m struggling with self-discipline and motivation as well. I won NaNoWriMo and then I petered out. I desperately want to finish my novel, but work just drains me. I think the only thing I can do is leave work at work (which can be hard) and live my life.

    Or maybe I’ll just reward myself with cookies every time I write a thousand words. 😉

    • Join a writers’ group Sophia, if you haven’t already. In the last week, I have met with several members of my group and have received lots of support. I have also got back into my novel and am excited about it.
      The biggest thing I have had to do is to START writing and not over-think things.
      Today, three of us got together for a “write-in”, where we just wrote, talked a little about any issues with our writing, and had a couple of15-minute sessions where we wrote as quickly as we could to see who could write the most.
      With self-discipline, it helps if you have someone to push you along, someone who cares, and will even go along with you.
      Yes, stop thinking about work and leave it there. When you are home, work out what is most likely to motivate you to write. Cookies after each 1,000 words sounds great – but I’d make it after every 500. 🙂

      • A writer’s group is great idea! Thanks for the advice. I will get myself in the chair and writing today.

  5. My motivation has been tested lately since I’m finding it so hard to attain a reasonably-sized readership. Luckily I enjoy blogging, and that gives me an outlet for my creative energies– an outlet that doesn’t involve me in the stress and commitment of writing a book. Having a break from writing frees me up, allowing me to take on new challenges. I’m in the early stages of learning to drive, and currently studying for the DKT. 🙂
    I think that enjoyable exercise helps to foster motivation and get the grey matter ticking over. My favourite is swimming, but walking in pleasant and diverting surroundings is also wonderful.
    You need to focus on *why* you want to write. That’s an important first step. Then make your plan, setting realistic goals. Never overwhelm yourself. Allow for changes.
    Hope that helps! Best of luck, Linda!

    • Thank you Margaret. I think so often about why I want to write. It is just a part of me – something I need to do. In the times that I cannot write, I get really down about it, but the only solution I have found that works is – JUST WRITE! Not as easy as it sounds, but very effective. 🙂

      • Yes, sometimes one can sit down to write without really knowing exactly where they are heading, and the ideas just flow. That’s one of the great things about writing. It’s such a wonderful outlet for creative energies. 🙂


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