A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a lack of inspiration. This was also a problem of motivation. The poet in me might suggest is a problem of the soul. I have spent the past two weeks attempting to develop a sense of passion for my work again. My solutions have addressed issues of busy-ness, creativity, and motivation, specifically how I attempted to develop each in a constructive manner.
How to Keep Busy
Keeping busy is easy. Being productive is not. Challenge #1 in keeping busy is to make sure that what one does is also, in some regard, productive. Simple steps can help to address that factor of busy-ness:
- Identify tasks that need to be done.
- Pick one according to (a) need and (b) energy levels. Energy constitutes both physical and emotional energy, as well as a regard for willpower and the required effort for a task.
- Allocate a minimum amount of work for a certain amount of time.
That’s easy. Doing that, I managed to organise my bedroom/workspace (the joys of having an office for a bedroom and a bedroom for an office). And doing that, I was able to find materials necessary for addressing creativity and motivation.
How to Generate Creativity
Creativity, unlike busy-ness, is a challenge, and something of a catch 22. The more creative you are, the more creative you become. Thankfully, years of (a) writing and (b) procrastination have taught me some tools for “generating” creativity.
- Write down ten ideas every day. I did not do this every day for the past two weeks, but I did it a couple of times, on days when I struggled to fit anything else in. Many of the ideas are silly, boring, useless, or some combination of the above, but they help in getting the brain working.
- Work on a project you’re passionate about. This is where my room-cleaning became useful: I found the original script for The Rest is Silence, the play I wrote in 2011, that was produced by the Mater Dei Drama Soc in 2012. Finding that led to me working on something related to it, and feeling a greater connection to the project.
- Introduce new stimuli into your life. The pros: new ideas, a new opportunity to release precious neural chemicals, and something new to talk to other people about. The cons: a risk of “wasting” time, the need to place greater constraints on oneself, and the chance of not working. In my case, I watched Steven Universe for the first time, and slightly fell in love with the show.
I found the original script and notes for my play The Rest Is Silence, produced by the Mater Dei Drama Soc a few years ago. The play deals with themes of suicide, depression, and the struggle of identity when dealing with mental illness. When performed in Mater Dei, we sold out of seats, with people even sitting in the aisles. It's a story that's very dear to my heart, and I was so happy (and nervous) to be able to share it with the world with the help of some of my best friends. #play #writersofinstagram #writing #depression #suicide #mentalhealth
How to Become Motivated
Motivation and creativity can be linked. The script for the play helped with my desire to work, and gave me something to work on that I really cared about. However, through writing, college and plenty of experience having to self-motivate, I’ve picked up a few other tricks for motivating oneself when there is no one present to force the work to happen.
- Make a list of the smaller tasks you need to do, and tackle as many as you can in quick succession. Tick them off. By getting smaller tasks done, you can “trick” your brain into believing you are in Work Mode, and that helps to keep working. I sometimes start a writing session by writing haiku, to help get the creative juices going, and tricking my brain into believing it is time to start thinking about words more carefully.
- Remove the distractions of social media. Self-explanatory, really. People are distracting, even when they’re boring. (And a lot of social media is boring.)
- Slightly cheating, but works for long-term projects: get yourself an accountability partner. This person will be the one you check in with, the one who makes sure that you are doing the work you say you were going to. It’s an especially important person to have when you work for yourself, and meed to work to get paid. (This is the beauty of NaNoWriMo. Everyone is an accountability partner. )
- Do something exciting in your work life. Me? I went into Forbidden Planet in Dublin and asked them to stock my books. Now they’re on the shelves with the other Irish small press titles – mostly comics, but with a couple of books of prose thrown in for good measure.
How to Deal With Personal Stuff
I won’t pretend personal stuff didn’t play a part in my struggles to work lately. Obviously, I won’t be giving the details, but I do know one thing about personal problems when it comes to working: learn to recognise how important something is, how much you can do about it, and how much it will actually influence your life if you cannot do something about it. By removing your focus from something that’s on your mind, you can work more effectively. (It also helps to be able to talk to people about something happening in your life, which is why I recommend regularly spending time with someone whose company you enjoy, who you can talk to about anything, and whose good news you can be happy about.)
I originally intended to post weekly here. I will attempt to increase that, especially given I missed a week. In the meantime, I’ll be working on some fun projects, concentrating on some stuff for the future, and trying to keep myself creating. And, of course, I’ll be at the Geek Mart on October 1st, which is always a fun opportunity to see some friends while (hopefully) selling some books and prints.