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My Dreams Are Better Than Brussel Sprouts (But You Wouldn’t Know It by How Often I Avoid Them)

2010 November 10

136 - Picky EaterOne of the things you learn pretty quickly when you’re trying to write a novel in a month is how to keep plugging along whether you feel like it or not.

Another thing you learn is how surprisingly hard this is, even when you’re working on something you love.

The irony is that I’m a pro at plugging along when it comes to my job. I never “feel” like going in every morning (of course I don’t), or staying there for 8 hours, or doing any of the individual things I’m required to do while I’m there. But I’ve learned to keep going, day after day, in spite of that. Why I can’t do the same thing for my writing—something I truly love and daydream about while I’m stuck at work—is a mystery to me.

The one and only explanation I can find for the difference between my self-discipline towards work vs. writing is that with my job, I don’t have the option not to do it. This is because I like to eat and be clothed, and as long as I want to continue doing both of those things, showing up at work is non-negotiable. Whether I feel like going or not is irrelevant.

My writing, on the other hand, is the opposite of necessary, strictly speaking. No one is demanding it. My general physical wellbeing isn’t dependent on it. The only reason I have for doing it is that I really, really love doing it. And apparently that’s not enough motivation when I have the option of watching The Big Bang Theory in my PJs instead.

Forcing Yourself to Do the Things You Love

The trouble is that after using up most of my energy doing the things I don’t want to do, I rarely feel like I have enough left at the end of the day to give to the things I do want to do. I feel spent. I feel like I deserve a break. And as fantastic as writing is once I actually sit down and start doing it, it’s still work. And I am lazy. I didn’t fully appreciate how much before now, but since taking on NaNoWriMo, it has become abundantly clear. I am oh so very lazy.

But my dreams deserve better than that. Since work is non-negotiable, using it as an excuse for why I’m not pursuing my dreams is a copout. My tiredness after work isn’t what’s keeping me from accomplishing the things I want to accomplish; it’s me. I haven’t valued them enough to put in the work for them. Or I haven’t ridden myself hard enough to live up to them. Probably both. Either way, I’m just beginning to realize how much I’ve been missing out on as a result.

I might have to force myself to sit down and start, but once I do, I realize Oh, hey! I really like this! That’s right, I remember now! It’s sad and strange that this is how I operate, but that’s what I have to work with, so I’m working with it. No one is going to hold me accountable for my dreams except me, so I’d better start being a better taskmaster.

But You Like Writing, Remember?…

I’m not above tricking or bribing myself. It isn’t admirable, but the inertia I’ve built up over years of letting myself off the hook isn’t going to melt away overnight—and in the meantime, I have a novel to write. So, I set myself goals and rewards: Just write 2 pages, and you can have a yummy treat. (If I’m lucky, I’ll get so involved in what I’m writing that I’ll turn out 3 or 4 pages before I even remember the treat.) Or: Tonight, just write a paragraph of character background. You don’t even have to tackle the story. (If I’m lucky, the character sketch will lead to some brilliant plot point, and I’ll be so excited I’ll spit out several pages on it.) It’s like getting a 2-year-old to eat his brussel sprouts. Only the brussel sprouts are actually M&Ms, and he loves M&Ms. But he forgets this, so every night at dinner you have to coax him into trying one before he remembers he loves them, and then he devours the whole plate. So I guess my self-discipline is like a 2-year-old with Alzheimer’s. Yep, that sounds about right.

(Don’t ask me why you’d want to coax a kid to eat M&Ms every night for dinner. The metaphor is a bit sketchy, but so is my writing process. So I suppose it’s rightly fitting.)

Analyze Me! (Seriously, Because I Totally Don’t Get It)

What do you think? Have you ever had trouble getting yourself to do the work for something you actually really enjoy? Do I just not want it enough to make myself put forth the effort, or is it far too easy to let your dreams slide in the day to day grind? I’d be curious to see how other people weigh in on this!

 

Image: Clay Bitner

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  • Victoria

    This is very like me. I have always had the problem of not wanting to do anything after work, even since work was school! My Mum always used to say ‘You’ll enjoy it when you get there’ and make me go to Brownies. Or ‘I’ve paid for your dancing classes until the end of the term, so you can’t quit before then’. And then the end of term came and I didn’t want to quit, because I enjoyed it!

    I have no idea why I have so much of a challenge motivating myself to do things after work, but I do, and now there’s no Mum living with me to tell me I have to. And if I tell myself I have to, then it’s even harder to make myself go! However, I have now developed 2 tricks to get myself to go out and have fun after work.
    1. Make it part of my routine. There is no want / don’t want. There is only do. I do this, because I always do this. If I can keep telling myself this, it doesn’t give me the opportunity to decide I don’t want to go!
    2. Talk myself up about doing it. Last night I went to the gym after work by telling myself all day that ‘I’m a strong woman. I CAN make myself do this. I am awesome and will go to the gym!’. And convincing myself that I was strong enough to make myself do it worked – I went! It was closed for refurbishment when I got there, but I did get there. Even if I sulked about it being closed and bought choclate afterwards…

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Victoria:

      I like your tips! You’re right, it’s not easy to find the willpower to get things done when there isn’t someone hanging over your shoulder and making you do them. Even if they’re things you know are good for you oryou know you’ll enjoy, sometimes you still have to really push yourself to make the effort. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one!

      (And don’t feel bad about the chocolate–you did your part by showing up, sometimes you deserve a little treat.) :D

  • http://priusenvy.wordpress.com Prius Envy

    I’ve experienced this very same thing with my punctuality. At work, no matter what I will have 25 students waiting for me outside my door whether I show up – or not! I haven’t once been late to work because, quite frankly, it isn’t an option! I get up even though I don’t want to a get rolling and make it on time every single school day.

    But to pilates… yoga… girl’s night… dates… All the things I LOVE to do, I can’t be on time if my life depends on it.

    Maybe even though it’s something I love, I take advantage of the luxury of being late.

    Also – BWAHAHA! 2 year old with Alzheirmers. Hilarious.

    Good luck fitting everything in and thanks for the tips!

    Best,
    Bridget

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Bridget:

      I so get where you’re coming from. My husband sometimes tells me we need to leave much earlier than we really do, because it’s the only way we’ll be on time for things. (He only does it sometimes, though, so I can’t catch on to the trick and be late regardless.) I like your idea that it’s a “luxury” you can take advantage of when you’re not going somewhere obligatory like work. I think secretly I might have a similar motivation…Definitely something to consider!

      ~Thanks for the empathy, :)
      Kelly

  • http://www.blondeandbalanced.com Amber

    Just found you from PDITF! I love your blog! I’ve already added you to my reader. I sorta wanna start a blog called Amber Calls It Quits now… Just sayin… :)

  • http://runtobefit.wordpress.com runtobefit

    I know exactly what you mean. I started writing a book and got to page 50. I was happy with it and suddenly I couldn’t write anymore. I realize now it’s because I don’t have to do it. It’s not something I get paid for so it is not a necessity. If it was my job I am sure I would have finished it a long time ago. It’s a frustrating process doing what you love, because most of what we love isn’t actually our job. I am sure you will finish it…maybe it’s harder because you want it to be great and greatness sometimes takes time to develop. It just means it will be a great book. And…honestly…who wouldn’t stop to watch the big bang theory…I mean really :-)

    http://www.runtobefit.wordpress.com

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      True that!

      Thanks for the kind words. I think a lot of people have had a similar experience of starting something (whether it’s a book, a hobby, or whatever) and then stopping just because it’s not something they “have to” get finished. One of the brilliant things about NaNoWriMo is that it gives you that impetus to keep moving–especially if you decide to brag to everyone you know that you’re going to do it, so you know you have to get it done or everyone will be able to laugh at you. :)

      I’m v. impressed by your own commitment to training for your 1st half-marathon. I can only imagine the self-discipline it must take to work towards that. Best of luck you to!!

      ~Kelly

  • http://www.elliterate.net Eliana

    “I haven’t valued them enough to put in the work for them. Or I haven’t ridden myself hard enough to live up to them. Probably both.”

    I love this point. You’re 100% right. In previous Nanowrimo’s I’ve done really well and finished my 50,000 words. But when it’s come to staying on top of it after the pressure is gone and the pep talks have stopped flooding the inbox, I’ve just let it slide.

    This year my Nano deserves better than that! I’m going to stay on top of this book after November is over, re-write, edit, do whatever I need to in December and January and February etc. etc. until I can look at that word document and call it a fully fledged manuscript!

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Hi, Eliana! So nice to meet another NaNoer!

      Yeah, I have to say my biggest concern about NaNo isn’t getting it done, but what I’m going to do afterward. It’s easy enough to tell myself now that I’ll devote the same amount of writing time to my ideas after the challenge is over, but once the lights have gone down and no one is asking me about my progress, it could get tough.

      Please feel free to “writing buddy” me on NaNo (my user name is “kellanya”). I’d love to keep track of your progress! And thank you so much for adding me to your blogroll. I am genuinely touched by the amazing response I’ve been getting and the awesome, thoughtful comments you’ve all been leaving.

      Best of luck to you in your writing endeavors!!

      ~Kelly

  • http://doithalfway.wordpress.com Mama Bear Ping

    If you figure out how to do this, you could make millions.
    I think we all get stuck in the necessities of life and forget about those things that make our hearts sing, that make us enjoy life.
    There’s a saying, “He who chases two rabbits goes hungry.”
    I don’t know what the answer is to generating will power and motivation.
    Cutting out, not adding more. Kind of like a budget for your life. Sometimes to do the things we have to, we make sacrifices. Sometimes to follow the dreams we have, we make sacrifices. And sometimes you just have to take a big ol’ leap of faith that your dreams will take you places that “life in general” can’t.
    That’s probably not the answer you want to hear. But, it’s the only one that seems to work for me.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      I really like that idea of “budgeting” for your dreams. I’m going to try to start looking at my time management that way. I think it could really help me out!

  • http://carabristol.wordpress.com Cara Bristol

    Gloria Steinem once said, “I don’t like to write. I like to have written.” That describes the writing process much of the time.

    There is a huge inertia to overcome in writing; however, the more frequently you write, the eaiser it becomes, although it ‘s never EASY. I’ve written four novels, dozens of short stories, and three novellas. But I also have a file of uncompleted manuscripts that I lost interest in.

    I’ve written a couple of pieces that were pure magic from start to finish. And I’ve written a couple in which I had to squeeze blood out of a stone with every paragraph. Most stories are in between.

    Sometimes I love writing. Sometimes I hate it. But I can’t not do it.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Cara: It’s so comforting to know that even established writers still have trouble with the very act of writing. And you are right on the money with “Sometimes I love writing. Sometimes I hate it. But I can’t not do it.” My feelings

        exactly

      !

  • http://mpaulphotography.wordpress.com mpaulphotography

    I’m the same way – even though I love what I do (I’m an artist) I reach a saturation point at times and I just want to let my brain cruise for a while. I try to remember that while self-discipline is a very good thing, sometimes giving myself a break is good as well.

    What works best for me is to make longer short term goals – e.i. I want to finish this project in, say, 3 months – instead of nagging myself for not working on it “right now.” Some sort of routine, if I can stick to it, is a great motivator as well.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed and good luck with your project – don’t forget that creative activities are sometimes more draining than 8 hours of work, whether you love creating or not.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Thank you for the kind words and empathy! (And thank you for pointing out Freshly Pressed–I had no idea I’d made it!) All the best to you & your own artistic endeavors!

  • http://miracleon32ndstreet.wordpress.com auntbethany

    Totally agree with you…I’m currently student teaching, running a private voice studio, participating in 2 musicals, singing my church choir, and attempting to sleep in the spaces between. When I come home at night (usually around 9:30 or 10) the LAST thing I want to engage in is ANYTHING but sleep…no Nintendo Wii, no reading, no writing, and no going out. I just want to veg out in my PJs and my eat my pint of Hagden Dazs (who am I kidding? By that time, I am even too tired to eat!).

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Phew! I got tired just reading about everything on your plate! I admire your stamina (and ambition!) Good luck and keep it up!

  • http://starlightserenade.wordpress.com Terri

    I’m with you on this! I like to write, but I haven’t seriously done it in a long time, and it’s harder than I remembered. (Also, despite my better NaNoWriMo intentions, watching The Big Bang Theory wins every time with me.) Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Thank you!! I checked out your blog, and I am in complete sympathy w/your latest post. My NaNo count skyrocketed the first week and has stayed steadily at the same spot since then. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I don’t think I realized it would be this not easy.

      But I have full faith in both of us. We can do it–Good luck!!

  • http://bethhull.wordpress.com bethhull

    I like what Victoria said above. Even a two-year-old responds to routine. If you make a habit of writing, it will be easier to get going each time. It’ll start to feel weird when you don’t do it.

    I do chores while my two-year-old is awake. When she’s sleeping, that’s when I write. Naptime is MY time. If only I could get to her take longer naps….

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      I agree. I think I’m going to need to start scheduling writing time just like I schedule chore time and everything else.

  • http://cyberhomewrecker.wordpress.com berettaluvz26

    I’m in exactly the same place with my writing. There’s too much going on to distract me… husband, cable, internet, facebook, cats. It doesn’t seem to matter that all I have to do to be able to focus on my writing is go in the spare room and shut the door.

    My biggest demotivator is starting a new story. I’ve always been terrible with beginnings, so that keeps me from starting anything new. However, I’m trying to blog more often. At least I’m writing something, ya know? I know what the rewards are for writing, and I know that I can write some publishable if I just DO IT. But it’s so hard to get over the laziness and the this-isn’t-good-enough mentality that I’ve developed.

    Good luck for the rest of the month… you’re already a third of the way done!

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Funnily enough, my writing would also be aided by going into our spare room and shutting the door. But it’s so quiet in there all alone w/my thoughts that I usually bring our laptop out into the living room–where I have husband, dog, and TV to distract me. Self-sabotage, perhaps? :P

  • travlingirl

    gosh it’s like you read my mind and wrote it – scary. but good to know i’m not the only one who does this….i think i could do the things i LOVE to do but then i’d be up till 2 0r 3 a.m. every night and wouldn’t be able to get up to do the thing i HAVE to do….great post, congrats on for being FP! i’ll need to find out more about this NaNo you all are talking about….

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Thank you! I would highly recommend NaNo. It’s a kick in the pants in the best possible way.

      p.s. “good to know i’m not the only one who does this”–I feel the same way about all you awesome commenters. It’s so comforting to know you’re not alone!

  • http://rtbtaketwo.wordpress.com Maureen

    OMG. I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this post today. I know EXACTLY what you mean. Thank the Maker I’m not the only one out there who struggles with this. But your post is very encouraging. I think I’ll print it up or something and keep it where I can see it. Maybe it’ll motivate me to get off the internet and actually start writing or doing the other creative things that I love to do.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Aww, thank you! It means a lot to me that it’s helped you!

  • http://pltprincess.wordpress.com pltprincess

    ” I haven’t valued them enough to put in the work for them. Or I haven’t ridden myself hard enough to live up to them.”

    For me, there is also no truer statement. But I firmly believe it’s because I only consider them dreams. It’s when I value them enough to make them actual goals towards which my mind focus, for which my drive can find the time and effort despite life happenings – that’s when it becomes, if not effortless, fruitful. Once I add true desire to that which I love, the encompassing need for the end result seems to be all the drive I need to fit whatever into my life despite my natural inclination towards lazy.

    I, however, don’t always find or can’t always sustain true desire and so, have unfinished manuscripts, half-done projects, even an jewel of an iPhone app just lingering around the house. All awaiting completion. And I have wonderfully fullfilling dreams about what could be some day!!

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      I completely understand that! Best of luck from another who is “naturally inclined towards lazy.” :P

  • http://evelyngarone.wordpress.com Evie Garone

    Good luck to your writing endeavors. I’ve started working on two books and I started real strong, but I’ve since tapered off. Every once in a while, I get phsyced again and go at it like gang busters then stall again. It’s on & off. I’ll try to write after this.

    evelyngarone.com

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Every little bit helps, even if it’s only a paragraph or two here or there. One thing I’m learning is that even if you work for 10 minutes a day, it makes a difference. If I let myself take more than 2 days off at a time, it’s an Olympic event trying to drag myself back to my writing. Best of luck!

  • http://talesofasojourner.wordpress.com Abby

    That is a great post and so true! I wonder sometimes if somewhere underneath it all we’re secretly worried about failing, and failing, or not doing well, at something you care about is much better than failing at something you’re not so invested in…

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      I think you hit on a crucial point there. I think it’s definitely one of the things that keeps me procrastinating as long as I do.

  • deylansmama

    I am presently failing at my NaNoWriMo goal because of exactly what you’ve written. I LOVE to write, but suddenly now that I am really trying to write, I am hit with either a block I can’t move through or so many ideas that I can’t pick a direction. I’ve been really struggling and while I’m sad that you have had issues with it too, I’m kinda glad I’m not the only one.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      I think we’re definitely not alone. From the other NaNoer’s I’ve been talking to, I think we’re in the midst of the dreaded Week 2 slump. But I understand from people who’ve completed it in the past that things really do pick up in Week 3 if you can just keep at it. Take heart, and godspeed to both of us! :D

  • http://talesofasojourner.wordpress.com Abby

    ok, I meant much WORSE than failing at something you’re not so invested in! haha! sorry bout that!

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Understood. :)

  • http://envirosoup.wordpress.com Michelle

    Reading your post was like listening to my daily inner diaglogue. I constantly struggle with finding motivation after the 8 to 5 grind to put effort into things I want to achieve. I get home, work out, make dinner (the “musts” for my survival and sanity), and then somehow become distracted in the latest book I picked up from the library or an episode of “Chopped” on Food Network until falling asleep. My writing and educational endevours routinely fall to the wayside.

    However, in my case, I think my missing motivation stems more from my fear of failing, of venturing outside my comfort zone and trying something new. It’s way easier to get lost in someone else’s words, than put myself in the director’s seat and construct my own, right?
    But, thankfully, I stumble across things like your post every once in a while that remind me I’m not alone in this struggle, and begin again. So, thank you. And best of luck!

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Thank you, I feel the exact same way. Best of luck to you, too! We are not alone!

  • http://www.faeriemagic.wordpress.com Shannon Sullivan

    Yes, this is definitely a characteristic I have had to apply to what I enjoy as well as my “working life” although I am trying to get the two to merge more and more together. Not easy buy plugging along. I have put forth more effort in the past year than the previous ten years of my life in bringing more of my dreams into reality. I guess the difference now is I just thought if I dreamt of something it should just happen and didn’t realize it would take as much hard work to bring dreams into reality. It is worth the journey but man do I have to imagine a drill sergant pushing me all the time. ;)

    Thank you for sharing with us.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      “I guess the difference now is I just thought if I dreamt of something it should just happen and didn’t realize it would take as much hard work to bring dreams into reality.” That’s an excellent point. I think so many of us hope that good things will just come to us, without realizing that sometimes our dreams take a lot of hard, nitty gritty work.

      I heard a quote once (I wish I could remember from who) that I’ve always liked. It went along the lines of: “Stop waiting for your ship to come in; swim out and meet it!”

  • http://nghiand04.wordpress.com Nghiand04

    :L

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      :D

  • carleennimrod

    I enjoyed your post–honest, real and inspiring as well. I think a lot of people struggle with the very same things in the pursuit of their dreams, me being one. What has helped me is the accountability of friends/family and other like-minded people (other writers or artists) who are also working on projects. It’s helpful to either schedule work-time with other creative types or ‘employ’ friends/family to be your personal taskmasters to make sure you do the things you love and get them done on time.

    All the best with your writing!

    ..Car…

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Thank you, you too! I like the idea of assigning someone to be your taskmaster. I’ll have to try that some time!

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    I hear ya!

    I actually have to teach myself discipline. It took a while and it is still a struggle, but I am doing it. My first book will be done by the end of the month. My novel is a little more complicated than a nonfiction devotional, but the deadline for the rough draft is this year.

    I wish I had a book contract. I’d be more disciplined. I work well with deadlines. LOL

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Congrats on the progress you’ve made so far! I understand the need for deadlines. If it weren’t for NaNo, who knows when I might have picked my story back up again?

  • http://mentalissues.wordpress.com mentalissues

    I feel like that too. I’m lazy to work. I’m even lazy to take care of my kids, but I do it because I love them.

    Considering I just told off a client that I don’t want his business any more, I might be fired in the near future. I have my reasons to tell him off. Let’s say over 10 years of unproductive business with him, I’m calling it quits.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Understandable. Sometimes you just have to call something quits if it isn’t working. I wish you all the best and hope things work out for you!

  • http://daizysueb.wordpress.com/ Tanya :)

    Have you ever read the book the War of Art by Steven Pressfield? It’s all about this! I’ve done some blogging about it on my friend’s blog Inspiration for Creation. The first post will be up tomorrow with exerpts from the book.

    I know that sounds like a terrible plug and not addressing your post at all, but really it’s very relevant!

    http://inspirationforcreation.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/ordinary-to-extraordinary/

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      I actually just finished reading that book, and I loved it! I read it as preparation to get me amped up for NaNoWriMo.

      Someone in an earlier comment mentioned the need to have a boot camp instructor to keep them on task–that book kind of felt like that for me. The short, passionate chapters were an excellent kick in the pants. I’ll have to check out your post on it. :)

  • http://mindstride.wordpress.com T

    I’m so glad I found this– I can relate so much. I’ve spent years trying to work out why I couldn’t sit down to complete my manuscript. Luckily, buckling down and participating in Nanowrimo has helped me learn a lot about how to get myself to sit down and actually write, as well as how to get around the distractions and obstacles that began to discourage me. Just in actually setting some time aside to write, the process has gotten easier.
    Great post, and good luck!

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Ah, a fellow NaNoer! No one understand the challenges and discipline of writing quite like another NaNoer. :P

      Good luck to you, too! It’s an intense challenge, but so worth it!

  • http://fundmydreams.wordpress.com moreira100000

    I feel the same way when it comes to my job. I never feel like going in every morning I don’t like staying there for 7 hours, i feel trap and i also feel time is going by. while i could be outside making my dream com true.this why i created a page called fund my dream.look .please look at my page and tell me what you think.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      A very interesting idea! If we could all support each other’s dreams (literally), the world would be awesome.

  • http://avaaston.wordpress.com Ava Aston’s Muckery

    I have read a lot of blogs this month about the discipline of writing since it is the 30 day writing challenge going on, but your was the best so far!!! Good work and worthy of being Freashly Pressed.

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Ava:

      Thank you so much! The support I’ve gotten on this post is incredible. You readers are all amazing!

      :)

  • http://aj81writing.wordpress.com aj81writing

    For as long as I can remember, writing has been a passion of mine. In fact, it has been the only passion of mine that’s been constant throughout my life. I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I just couldn’t get past 20 pages. I would tell the story I wanted to tell, and neglect all the other stuff – like character development, setting etc. About a year ago, I got an idea for a story which, for the first time, could fill at least 400 pages. I did the character charts, described scenery, made notes on what would take place in each chapter. Now I have about 100 pages, the beginning and the end – but no middle! Even now, when I’m between assignments (I work as an office consultant), and I have all the time in the world, I get stuck in front of the TV instead of writing. I hate to see the days pass while my novel lies dormant. I’m questioning my commitment, and my talent. Maybe my passion isn’t my future? But then, can you give up on something you’ve been passionate about for over 20 years? What’s left? Getting up and going to work every single day without that passion?

    The best advice I’ve gotten regarding writing was “Don’t wait for inspiration. It’s not just gonna come to you. Writing is a job. Treat it as such. Put in the hours, and inspiration will come. Just keep writing.”

    I was inspired by your blog post. Thank you.

  • http://morningtear.wordpress.com Ia

    Congrats on being “Freshly pressed”!

    Very good entry, and I think you have illustrated how a lot of people function, not just you. And I wouldn’t call you lazy, it’s just the way life is… Also, as you write in your “about me”-section, it is about finding those tips and tricks that work for you! Good luck with it all! :)

  • http://lamwagon.wordpress.com Rachel

    My problem is actually not getting what I have to get done at work because I spend too much time doing what I love to do – putting together photo albums or blogging. But back to your question. I think your 3rd option, “it’s far too easy to let your dreams slide in the day to day grind” that gets me the most. In other words – procrastination, something most of all people are guilty of. I take piano lessons and I work out, both after work. There are days where I give up on myself, but most days are better days. The way I motivate myself is to think about the end results: “how great would it be if I learn Jim Brickman’s piece by next month…” or “if I do my 1/2 jog today I will sure be able to eat like a pig this weekend!” I want both badly enough I usually just tell myself, “Just do it…once I start it’s usually not so bad.”

    So keep plugging along because you can only finish your novel that way. Not sure how long your novel is. But if you write 4 pages a day, you’ll have 120 pages by the end of the month ^_~

    -Rachel

  • http://bucksaver.wordpress.com bucksaver

    I enjoyed your post and am inspired to push forward myself! I am in a similar struggle with my regular job that sustains me and writing which in essence also sustains me, but not as tangible? I’m going to hold myself more accountable, thanks. Sprouts and M&M’s, great analogy, too. Finally, congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Keep up the great work and good luck with your novel!

    http://bucksaver.wordpress.com

  • http://www.paintingskiathos.wordpress.com yvonne ayoub

    I don’t believe there’s a single creative soul who can’t identify with your situation!
    As an artist, it’s something I struggled with for years; trying to juggle a full time job, raise children and hold the family together while the muse was tugging at me on all sides. For a while I tried to be clever and apportion my time to the second: work and family by day, painting at night, WELL into the night and in very poor light. The result? Lots of poorly executed work and a VERY frustrated and grouchy Mum in the morning! I didn’t like myself much then, I’d turned into a control freak, an unfulfilled, full-of-resentment wannabee supermum, whose major enemy was the clock on the wall.
    Then one day it stopped! (the resentment, that is, not the clock!)
    It suddenly dawned on me that I was fighting a continuous battle that I had absolutely no hope in winning (a bit like housework!) What’s more, it was mostly self-made; I’d set the rules, I’d aimed for perfection, no one else seemed remotely bothered when I let my ‘standards’ slip a bit. Cushions on the sofa were no longer constantly plumped. Gourmet meals were no longer the order of the day. The family survived! In fact, they even pitched in more, unbidden (unHEARD of!!). With time on my hands now that I was free(er) to paint, I couldn’t get inspired at all. I too felt lazy, useless, dried up, finished…..
    Then ever so slowly, creativity returned, all by itself. I began to find it in the most unlikely places, when least expected. I eventually came to realise it was all about ‘letting go’ and ‘letting it come to YOU – not you chasing IT’. When its ready it will. You just have to be in the right frame of mind to receive it. Its something that can’t be forced….in my experience anyway….so Good Luck! You write brilliantly! I wish you well. Yvonne x

  • Grace

    Your website is so cool!

  • http://asilisis.wordpress.com asilisis

    Hey! I definitely understand how you feel. it seems the busier I am at work, the less I get done in my personal life, the less motivated I am to work, and then the less motivated I am to write… It’s a horribly viscious circle.

    I came to the realization that the path to success isn’t a path at all, it’s a theme park (check out my blog post about that, if you’d like) and it’s up to us to ensure we get through each ride in order to complete the theme park and thus have acheived success!!

    However, as you mention, its keeping motivated that’s the hardest part. Some of my tips are to carry a notebook with me EVERYWHERE and write whenever I have a spare moment. Another one is to write during my lunch break (cuz I’m at work and feel like I should be working… writing = work, so it makes some sense to me at least).

    hope that helps! Good luck attaining your goal!

  • KitKat

    It’s like you are in my brain. I feel exactly the same way. I love to write, but at the end of the day, it is work. One of the reasons I started my blog was to get into the habit of writing more often. The blog is just my random thoughts with no guidlines about what I have write about. So far, I have been writing on it fairly regularly, which has led to my creative juices flowing a bit more on my other writing projects. So far, so good.

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  • http://lamwagon.wordpress.com Rachel

    In response to KitKat,

    I think Kelly has gathered many of us kindred souls together here. Similar to KitKat, I started this blog as a way to practice writing, to connect and to be heard. I don’t know where it’s taking me, but without a solid career plan, I can only stick to my current job + blog on the side and hoping to the lottery :p Good luck to all who aspires to attain some kind of goals through writing!

    -Rachel

  • http://weatheringthejourney.wordpress.com chickendinner

    A fellow NaNo-er AND Freshly Pressed! Congratulations, you have your hands really full now! You can do it. Just 1667 words a day… plus life.

  • http://thejamminjabber.wordpress.com thejamminjabber

    That cute little Asian girl is NOT having it!

    Also, no good novel was ever written in one month.

    • http://weatheringthejourney.wordpress.com chickendinner

      “Also, no good novel was ever written in one month.” ROFL!!!! of course not. No one who does NaNoWriMo even aspires to write a good novel in a month. The idea is to get words on paper, because no one who writes a good novel does it by keeping all the words in their head. 30 days gives you a challenge, a deadline, and doing it together with other people makes it more FUN! Then revise, revise, revise… You might pare it down to the best four words of the next great novel, which never would have seen daylight if you weren’t willing to write badly for a month.

  • Currie Rose

    Hi. I too am writing a book. When I began in June, I did dedicate several hours a day to it. I set a dead line and my intention was to throw myself into it while thoroughly and powerfully letting the master piece within out into the world. About a month ago, I tossed it out and am starting over. The thing that I have found about my own experience is that when I try to force it out, I feel like it comes from a place of ego and not an authentic place, therefore the words are rushed and what comes out is just crap. Sure, I was productive… but at what cost? My intention this time is to be gentle with myself and let my art flow in a natural way. If I sit down and cannot find my spark, that is okay. When I feel my spark and am in the middle of something else, I will go to write if possible, or I will make notes to remember what got me inspired. For me, my art flows when it feels safe and free to do so and my art hides when I am trying to rush it out….

    Thank you for your post. :)

  • http://www.amywrites.com Amy K. Nichols

    Hi Cordelia. Great post. Have you read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield? I’ve long struggled with exactly what you describe here, and reading this (short!) book gave me a proper perspective on what was happening and why. I highly recommend it.

  • http://lostdmw.wordpress.com lostdmw

    You made it further then I did with NaNoWriMo…a few years ago I said I was going to do it, printed out a sign for my home office door…aaaannnnd that’s about as far as I got :P
    I have the same problem as you…I think you’re right, we just get burned out doing the stuff we have to do and when it comes time to the little things we want to do we’re done for the day. Every day I say I’m going to write…but honestly after I get my son to bed my brain calls it quits on all but the most basic fronts. Most of my blog posts are written on stolen time during his naps just because I feel guilty and like a wuss if I don’t write something once in a while!

    Best of luck on NaNo! Keep us posted.

  • http://dtrasler.wordpress.com dtrasler

    Hi,
    I gave up novel writing after two of them, because it was very obvious that I shouldn’t do it anymore. They say everyone has a book in them, but that doesn’t mean they’re all worth reading. Luckily for me, I discovered that I WAS good at play writing, and after a decade of success, I’m reviewing and consulting on other people’s plays too.

    But I’m very familiar with the frustrations of wanting to write all the way up to the moment you have the chance to start. I have a part time job that involves standing still for up to four hours at a time. I can’t make notes, use a computer, send text messages…anything that might capture the brilliant ideas that flit through my head. On the other hand, I get entire days at home (once the kids are safely in school and the dog has been walked) when I can write. I could write from 9.30 to 2.30 if I wanted. And yet I don’t. New pages have to be dragged out of me, and my hand slapped whenever I try to open Internet Explorer (about every five minutes). I love being a writer, and I love having written, and I love the days when writing seems to happen by itself, when I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the words falling out of my head….But oh how rare those days are!
    Keep going, and congratulations on being freshly pressed!
    http://www.dtrasler.com

  • http://www.chemagnedance.com Chemagne Martin

    Hi Cordelia,

    I’m actually happy that I came across your blog because go through this everyday. I love to dance and design, and little by little I am making my dreams come true…BUT, there are moments when i say to myself ..”take the easy road and just do the 9 -5pm. But, I know I can’t. It takes alot of effort to put your dreams in the forefront, because it can be so easy to forget….It was recommended to me to read the War of Art by Steven Pressfield.Someone else mentioned it in their comments. GREAT book and it talks a lot about what your struggling with. Keep writing, enjoy love it..don’t give up on your dreams!

  • marlowesnymph

    Ahh! This is so me! I totally get where you’re coming from and honestly, I can’t analyze you because I’d be analyzing myself (AKA the impossible). Haha. This is a great post though, thank you.

    marlowesnymph.wordpress.com

  • jule1

    I think this is a dilemma for most creative people. I sing. I love to sing. I take voice lessons. But I don’t practice. I know I would get further faster if I practiced, and my teacher implores me at every lesson to practice (“just 5 minutes a day) but I don’t. Although every once in a while when I do I realize, “I like doing this” and like you, I do it far longer than 5 minutes once I actually get myself going.

    I also like to sew. But do I do it? No. It’s hard to get started. Once I DO get started I enjoy it and often go for hours. But I am resistant to actuallly getting started. When I actually finish a product I’m so elated! I made this! It wasn’t hard and now I have a wonderful thing that is especially created by and for me! It just takes time, but if you do it every day it gets done!

    I am definitely like your two-year old with Alzheimer’s. My husband, who is trained in science, can sit at his computer all day and work. From HOME. No kidding. No one has to prod him. He never misses a day. He doesn’t whine. And when he works for a company he always goes to work, never misses or takes a day off. He and I are completely the opposite. But I think of myself as creative and artistic, and many of the folks I know who are like me have the same problems you described, whereas my husband, the science guy, never has a problem with self motivation.

    That’s my best guess. You are artsy and creative. Therefore, you have the foibles many creative types have.

  • http://geekpyxie.wordpress.com geekpyxie

    Cordelia,
    You were channeling me when you wrote this. I know lots of other replies have said this, but you’ve pinned the tail on the sorry-ass writer over here.

    If it weren’t for NaNoWriMo, I’d hardly ever write anything. However, in the last few months I’ve realized that while I
    1) am brain dead to write when I get off work, and
    2) must keep the job I hate to pay my stupid bills,
    I am not my job. My brain is tired of programming things I don’t care about in the LEAST. My brain needs some water, some food, and a little playing with the kitties, and then I’m good to go.

    It comes down to how much you REALLY want to do something, and whether you’re going to keep accepting your own excuses for NOT doing something. I’ve decided NOT to accept my excuses (most nights!) and it’s working much better now. :-) Good luck with you NaNo!!!
    gp

  • http://lotpotoa.wordpress.com Lòt Poto-a

    I feel the same. Only with me, it’s music. I’m so focused on daily life that when it comes to music, I feel as though I’m wasting my time. Only I’m wasting my talent. And if you don’t use it, you loose it.

  • http://ilookchina.net Lloyd Lofthouse

    I also love to write and struggled to keep writing from 1968, when I wrote my first book length manuscript, until 2005 when I retired from 30 years of teaching English and journalism in the public schools.

    I know exactly how you feel about coming home from work and not having the desire, or strong enough discipline to sit down and write.

    That’s why for years I’d get up at 3:00 AM and write for two to three hours before driving off to the classroom where I didn’t want to be, but teaching paid the bills and led to the freedom I have today, which is to write.

    However, life and work had a way of stopping the writing for months at a time for those thirty-seven years before I left teaching. Nevertheless, I always returned to write.

    Since I retired from teaching in 2005, I’ve written and published the Concubine Saga (two books) and launched several Blogs. I write almost every day as if it were a job and I love it.

    If you love to write, there will be a time when you too will be able to sit down and not be too tired. Don’t give it up. When you find the time and sit down to write, write. Even if it’s for an hour or two now and then.

    I’ve considered joining NaNoWriMo but I’d rather take years to write a book than a month.

  • http://www.shanna.vannorman.com shanna vannorman

    Thanks for the insight. Us moms need to stick together.

    Best <3

  • http://188hughlowstreet.wordpress.com ipohgal

    Hi Cordelia,

    I liked your blog! Thanks for making me feel I am not alone in this. Like you, I am struggling with myself to get things done. I am still learning.

  • http://www.sophiaharcourt.com sophiaharcourt

    Hmmm I can’t say I’m in the same boat at the moment. My love is photography…to the point that I want it to be my job but maybe that is a bad idea. I have photographer friends who do photography as just that, a job. Any other time than work you will not find a camera in their hands. That is sad to me. I had for a while been not shooting anything because I wasn’t getting paid for it. At some point last year I decided enough is enough and that I needed to do what I loved and if I was very lucky I would start getting paid for images I made. I do have a job though it does not bring much inspiration to me, I try to remain grateful for it because like you said it pays my bills and gives me medical insurance. I like to take things that I see in my life and photograph them as they bring me inspiration. My brick wall comes when I have to sit at the computer and edit down images. So here’s hoping that you find your inspiration to persevere to “eat M&M’s” and get through the terrible 2’s;). Oh and you don’t even want to know my list of (procrastinations) tv shows….the top ones include, Modern Family and the Office and Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice (There are way more….sigh).

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  • http://goingforthebronze.wordpress.com goingforthebronze

    Who doesn’t relate to you? I think the majority can relate! Even my English Professor sister has similar issues, and writing is technically HER JOB! Not as lucky and intelligent as she, I was working full-time and had gotten side-tracked from a master’s thesis I was working on, because yes, money was needed and finding the energy to invest after a stressful job was TOUGH. I needed down time. When I actually tried to do both, I had to get to work at 6 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. to fit it in my day!
    Now, after going through rough times, I am NOT back to work and I am loving making time for my thesis. Still tough when looking after a 2-yr-old, but much more doeable. GOOD LUCK! It can definitely happen for you… I mean, you must’ve spent SOME time on writing this blog, eh?

  • http://roakian.wordpress.com/ Miss Adventure

    You know, I’d really like to thank you for this post. I started blogging a few days ago, and almost lost motivation to continue. Actually, I did when I didn’t see anybody out there reading. But reading this post reminded me that I’m doing this for my own enjoyment and I don’t HAVE to do it, I WANT to! It’s really strange how easy it is for me to fall into the exact same situation you described…doing things I have to do (ie work, etc), but forgetting that I LIKE my hobbies and suddenly they are becoming chores…until I start doing them and then its like rediscovering something as simple and natural as walking! Would you mind if I referenced your blog on my own? I really dig your style :)

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      By all means, I would be honored if you mentioned it. I wanted so much to respond to everyone, but the response has been so overwhelming I’m…well, overwhelmed…I’m so glad you (and everyone else out there) enjoyed it so much and I would not mind at all if you referenced me. And best of luck on your own blogging…Believe me, I know what it feels like to wonder if anyone will read what you’re writing…then one day a complete fluke happens and suddenly, you’re inundated with a flood of amazing responses from amazing people. It can happen–the important thing is that you keep doing it!! Best of luck to you!

  • http://we4m.tk Shihabvm

    i really like it.I enjoyed your post and am inspired to push forward myself!

  • Elaine

    I’m not a writer, nor am I a blog-reader either. But somehow today I was intrigued by the little teaser box in WordPress’ homepage and clicked through. And read through this blog of yours.

    And boy, can I relate or what!!!

    You know what my theory is?

    I don’t do the things I love because I have no one to please. I have deduced over time that I must be the kind of person who’s always looking to please someone else. I excel at home (trying to please mom/dad). I excel at work (trying to please boss/colleagues).

    Apparently, trying to please myself is not as big a motivator as being lazy. Or maybe being lazy is making me happy after all? Gah. The irony.

  • http://thedesertdreamer.wordpress.com thedesertdreamer

    Lovely blog…and this post describes exactly what I do when I write…even on my blog! So many other things to do (like reading interesting blogs) and the fact that I know I really don’t actually HAVE to almost spells disaster. Good luck with keeping going! We’ll both do this someday. I hope. And glad to have found your blog…it’s delightful.

  • http://tinyisland.wordpress.com/ bookjunkie

    This is so me! And are brussel sprouts the same as bean sprouts (I’m from Asia)? I absolutely loathe them, but writing is my whole life’s passion since I was six….even so, I still haven’t got down to writing my novel and I keep finding other ‘pressing’ things to do..like catch up on my tv shows! sigh. That’s why i just love this post and have already subscribed to your blog :)

    • http://skydancer0001.wordpress.com Skydancer (Guardian Angel)

      @bookjunkie:

      No Brussel Sprouts are like Mini Cabbages. And I LOVE them! lol

  • http://skydancer0001.wordpress.com Skydancer (Guardian Angel)

    You might consider another reason. It’s my reason. At my job, I please people! I make my boss and the “users” happy by doing a good job. Making somebody happy, reliably, day after day after day is a wonderful thing! :) With a book. You might make other people happy, but you might not!

    With my job, I know I will make others happy! With a book, I may or may not!

    Just a thought! :)

  • http://endangeredsquirrel.wordpress.com endangeredsquirrel

    If there were virtual high fives, I would extend my hand. Writing used to be something that I had to do but getting older makes it seem more like a luxury. And it’s so much easier to passively drift, fulfilling obligations as the bare minimum, procrastinating stories until they become too hazy to remember.
    The vast separation of ambition and laziness remains terribly unbalanced. But at least you are making a start. The step of acceptance is at the end of the process, so really you are backwardly ahead. Great post!

  • http://liferealities.wordpress.com startingoveringermany

    I am not a writer. I just write for relaxation and share some of my experience in Germany.
    I notice many people are writing for Nano I wish you luck. I also want to tell you that you are human. Everyone procrastinate and not always finish what they start, even the well discipline people at time. Not everything we can control.

  • http://tsguidetogeekyness.wordpress.com/ thewritingt

    “I am a two year old with Alzheimer’s”… that is worthy of a NaNoWriMo badge

  • http://winxrockers2ndblog.wordpress.com winxrocker

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve never forced myself to do the things I hate, and neither have my parents. I’m going to go for I love doing things I love, and hate doing things I hate. Simple enough?

  • randomlifejourney

    Hi Cordelia
    Great blog really enjoyed reading it, I’ll be tuning in for your next one.

  • http://kaysieho.wordpress.com kaysieho

    Love reading your blog! Keep the posts comin’ :)

  • http://toolplace.wordpress.com/ John

    Wow i love your blog its awesome nice colors you must have did hard work on your blog. Keep up the good work. Thanks
    toolplace.wordpress.com

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  • mamamia2010

    funny i just posted on the same topic… i have a million started projects sitting around that never get finished and i just seem to be unable to get myself to finish them even though i love doing those things.
    and mostly i don’t do it because it’s far easier to surf the internet when i have time than actually “working” on my projects. but in the end i feel so unsatisfied… something strange, but i guess not uncommon. i guess there are lots of 2 year old’s with alzheimer out there… i wonder how many things could have been created and accomplished if we could get ourselves to work, do, create!

  • http://wineguider.wordpress.com wineguider

    The thing is, for something that people love, like writing, they tend to enjoy being struck with inspiration. Forcing it to come in 1 month is likely to squash inspiration, and turn it into “work.” I suggest setting it aside, until you feel like writing. Then, buckle up — it’ll come at you like a waterfall! Good luck!
    -Wineguider, http://wineguider.wordpress.com

  • http://bookheathen.wordpress.com bookheathen

    You are very plucky to try NaNoWriMo at all. I didn’t dare! It takes me a year (on a good year) to write a novel.
    But of course it’s hard to get down to it sometimes. I find that writing something else helps – any old rubbish, in my case poetry, which I AM rubbish at. It can act as a stimulus for the sort of creative thought you are desperate to find.

  • http://error404ts.wordpress.com error404

    I went to college to be an illustrator. You couldn’t pay me enough to get on a computer (this was way back in the early 90’s), yet now all I do is computer-related and I never illustrate. There’s a passion that must exist to continue doing what you really enjoy doing, even when the daily distractions come along. It amazes me how I can get home between 6-7pm on a weeknight and have the best intentions to start sketching when I get there, but then find that it’s 1am already and I haven’t done anything but watch Family Guy reruns or some movie on HBO.

    That motivation to do these things that we love (but are also considered optional) is becoming harder and harder to find. This was a great read. Thank you :)

  • http://taketimetoshine.wordpress.com Megs

    I’ve been struggling with my NaNo so very badly this year, mostly due to being tired from, yes all the non-negotiables in my life so this peptalk was very much needed. Thank you :)

  • http://positivementalhealthfoundation.wordpress.com Nathalie

    Hi Victoria, I liked what you wrote. I am a writer from Brussels…brussel sprout territory for sure!

    If you want to be a writer, than you are one. Continue, on your one month challenge, continue what you love.

    I have several friend writers who I believe are doing the same as you right now. I think that is why they pushed our next meeting to the beginning of December! If you join a writer’s group, you can progress with others and it will keep the motivation going. We meet once a month in a cafe. And when you feel down and haven’t written for a few days here is a good book to lift you “If you want to write: a book about art, independence and spirit” by Brenda Ueland.

    Another pleasure is to keep your favorite book near you. To read and savor it.

    When you are alone and want to keep motivated, I write in a cafe. With two young kids, 1 million dreams, and lots of energy it is hard for me to focus. So I set aside a few times a week, and a cozy place. It makes it fun; a real break, a moment where you are completely alive and focused. You will begin to wait for these moments. To live for them, and they will change you.

    We always feel like there is something else we must do before starting what we love. Of course pay your bills, but continue your passion. And if you read Erich Fromm — he is a good start. His love of life and his writing is both beautiful and meaningful.

    Amities (with all my friendship),
    Writer, http://www.PositiveMentalHealthFoundation.com
    Nathalie !

    • http://lamwagon.wordpress.com Rachel

      Natalie,

      There is no telling when one would come across a post so empowering and, may I say, comforting, that one needs to respond to it immediately. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience with the rest of us. I have always come back to writing despite convincing myself that I am not cut out to be a writer. I lack formal training AND vocabs (without the vocabs, how can one write well?). I suppose I can train for both, but like you said, we always feel like there is something else we must do before we start what we love. My biggest fear is my lack (I do use that word quite frequently don’t I!) of conviction. I start something but I never see it through: LACK of patience, LACK of confidence, LACK of alone time, and sometimes LACK of money.

      I don’t even know where to start IF I do want to train to write better. I mean, do writing workshops actually help one improve vocabs?

      But I suppose you are right, we writers should continue to ink down our creative juices no matter how defeated de-motivated we might have felt. There is no such thing as a “failed writer” as long as we love what we do.

      -Rachel
      http://thelamwagon.wordspress.com

  • http://quantanalysis.wordpress.com Quants Trader

    Loved your post. I love chocolates….so i motivate myself with them…when working on anything interesting!

  • Mrs. Fink

    I feel exactly the same way with my own writing also. I am incredibly lazy, and I always want to curl up on the couch and watch t.v. than writing what I’ve been daydreaming all day at work. I love your approach, to kind of bribe myself the way a parent bribes their child to do something. I have dreams of becoming a successful author, but it’s not going to be that way if I am watching Family Guy all the time after work. I’m going to give it a try. And good luck to you also!

  • http://globalgirlbkk.wordpress.com globalgirlbkk

    “Since work is non-negotiable, using it as an excuse for why I’m not pursuing my dreams is a copout” – my favorite sentence in the whole thing.

    I agree with you. Sometimes, I think it’s because I’m afraid to fail at what I really love doing? Maybe that’s why I don’t push myself. Or maybe it’s just writer’s block. :)

    Good post.

  • http://joestormgameexpo.wordpress.com Joe Storm

    I see this with myself(Although I don’t work, I’m in college currently). I want to get in the game business so bad as a Game Designer/Producer, but when I get home I am too tired or toooo lazy to perform anything in my dream. But, I’m SLOWLY getting off this “Lazyness” of mine and actually work at it. Because, I can’t get that position by doing nothing lol

  • http://simplysolo.wordpress.com Catherine

    I have troubles with this all the time. Like last night, I came home exhausted from work. I had just taken on additional responsibilites and it kept me at the office until 8. I also had another couple of hours of reports to do before the morning. And I realized I hadn’t written anything original for the blog this week. So I spent hours doing my REAL work, with the anticipation of getting to the work that I actually enjoy (writing for my blog) afterward.

    Well, needless to say, once my REAL work was done, I was spent. I went to bed. After laying there, restless, I realized I had all these words I actually needed to get out before I could have the “reward” of sleep. So at 1 a.m., I got out of bed, and wrote a blog entry. Once the words were on paper, I felt so much better, and enjoyed my 4 hours of sleep that much more. I’ll probably regret it some this afternoon when I’m exhausted, but it’s the work that my soul needs to do. I have to remind myself that I’m lucky to have that outlet, and should really nurture the things I LOVE (because not everyone has something they love so much).
    Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.
    http://simplysolo.wordpress.com

  • Robert

    First, it is natural and normal as we age to gradually loose energy by degrees. The pace of life remains the same however. After the lion’s share of our “energy container” is used up from our daily survival activities, little is left for our passions. Your passions are still your passions but will seem more like work when you have to push yourself to do them when you are energy depleted.

    I have always preferred working nights rather than days as the pace of life on a night shift is much lower, the stress lower. I find I enjoy my passions when I rise in the morning and only feel bad when I have to set them aside to go to the J-O-B. Even at work, I am refreshed as I enjoyed what gives me pleasure first when my energy level was high after waking. Work breezes along because it is clocked at a slower pace and less intense than a draining daily grind.

    It is the grind of a daily survival ritual that robs you of your limited energy reserve when you are released from its tentacles. It sucks all your available energy and leaves you with only a pittance to do what you truly love. Turn this equation around. If food, shelter, clothing are your stated priorities then that is what you will have. All else will be secondary and expendable.

  • aproprose

    Glad to see a fellow NaNoWriMo-er! Push on, push on.

  • 2blu2btru

    I know exactly how you feel. I am doing NaNoWriMo for the first time myself, and while I’ve written for years, I never have finished anything except poems because I get wiped out by the daily grind of working.

    The only problem is when I wasn’t working or going to school for a couple of months, I didn’t accomplish much either, just 2 1/2 short stories. I still didn’t have the tenacity to complete anything. It was just easier to watch bad TV.

    I think the problem, for me, is that when you pursue the dream, at some point you find out if you really have it in you. I’ve loved to write my whole life, but what if I just don’t have a complete novel in me? Then what do I do? I’m afraid of being too bad and being too good.

    Neither one of us can just let the dream die or push it aside though. So whenever you get around to reading this comment # 152 or whichever one it is, go back and write a few more words for me (my novel surely needs it! :D) Good luck!

  • http://kathrynleigh_az.wordpress.com Kathryn Leigh

    I totally relate to you. I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and it’s SO hard to come home and write after work… SO hard. Congrats on getting freshly pressed, though. Perhaps someday both of us will be paid to do what we love and writing will become non-negotiable in a wonderful sort of way.

  • http://twistingroad.com Steve

    I read a sampling of the comments but not all so I apologize if I’m repeating what someone else has said.

    Resistance is often personal. There are some more common varieties and some techniques that work for a lot of people, but the answers about the source don’t come in boxes or packages. They come out of the shadows through a process of interaction. Still.. It’s not a lack of willpower. It may be a lack of motivation, but not willpower.

    Barbara Sher of “Wishcraft” fame talks about this amazingly. We don’t fail to do what we love because we lack discipline or positive affirmations. We fail to do it because we’re isolated. She says “isolation is the dream killer.” She developed Success Teams as a format for people getting together and holding each other accountable for moving forward on their dreams. When you commit in front of another person, you’re likely to do the work whether you feel like it or not on that particular day because people will know. They’ll celebrate when you do it, and that’s a great thing.

    The second point is intention. If your intention is focused on writing, why? What about it motivates you? The experience? The expected reward? A lifestyle you envision for yourself? How can you touch those motivations every day to reinforce your intention? Every time you write, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this again?” Find your “why” and let it move you forward.

    Third – if you’re not sure where the path leads once the words are written, it’s easy to use that as a reason not to get to that point. But you can reframe that. “Once the manuscript is done, then I get to focus on learning the next step writers take when they have a completed manuscript.” As a writer seeking publication you are doing something entrepreneurial, so you have to figure things out and learn as you go. It’s not like a job where people in a department take over or you get training in a new area. You have to seek out the people to hire to do things for you or to teach you about them or train you to do them. So probably the resistance is not just to writing, but to being overwhelmed by all there is to learn about getting a manuscript published and making it happen.

    Blessings
    Steve

  • Chelsea

    You’re definitely not alone! This happens to all of us. As a student, if I want to write anything on my own, I have to do it after a long day of 6 classes, sports, and any other school activities. My last class is a creative writing class, and usually after that, my imagination is basically drained.
    I use some of the same techniques you do, like convincing myself just to write a little, in hopes of getting in the zone.
    I usually get my best ideas when I’m half-asleep in bed, unwilling to get up and write pages. For those moments, I have a notebook in the top drawer of my nightstand. All I write down is a few key words, and the main idea. That way, I can come back to it later, and fill in fresh details when I’m awake enough to write a sensible story. I use this technique for poems and songs as well.
    If an idea comes to me while I’m awake and too lazy to write a whole story out, I write a few sentences in no particular order. They will be complete sentences, but from completely different parts of the story that I’ve developed in my head. Sometimes when I start writing a sentence, the idea keeps developing until I have multiple paragraphs. If this happens, all I really need to do is piece the paragraphs together and add a few transitions.

    One more tip that might help:
    If you’re having some sort of writer’s block, try doing a short free-write, about anything. Just a few rambling sentences can sometimes jump-start your imagination. When I do this, I usually go off of some issue I thought of earlier that day or week, or maybe I’ll spin off a prompt I was given in an assignment. If you can’t think of anything, look at a random object close to you and write about it. It’s best if it’s really hard to write about. Like an eraser. If you can write something about that, you can surely write a bigger story [:

    I hope, if you choose to try them, that these ideas help!

  • http://ollinmorales.wordpress.com Ollin

    I got just the trick. Sit down and tell yourself that you are going to write the WORST NOVEL EVER. Well you’ll be able to do it right? Anyone can write the worst novel ever. It’s easy. Just write a bunch of crap.

    You see, its a little trick you will play on yourself, because once you set out to suck, the opposite sometimes happens, and sometimes your writing turns out brilliant. So don’t set out for the masterpiece, set out for garbage and see how easy it is to write. Relieve yourself of all the pressure, my writer/novelist friend! :)

    • http://weatheringthejourney.wordpress.com chickendinner

      You are spot on with this advice! It’s what I did and it makes all the difference. No pressure. I can write a horrible novel and then decide afterward if there is anything about it worth keeping and because of that, I’m having a BLAST. I hope others are too.

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      I like that approach–I can totally do that! So far I’ve been going about it by *resigning* myself to the fact that my first draft is going be pretty crappy. But if I were to change direction and really *set out* to write a crappy first draft, it could actually be a blast, instead of just being the rueful assignment it is now. Crappy writing, ho! :P

  • http://thisamericandiet.wordpress.com ThisAmericanDiet

    What’s interesting to me is your focus on being “stuck” at work, or “using up most of [your] energy doing the things [you] don’t want to do.” It’s almost as if you’re living two lives; one in which you feel your time is wasted, and that detracts from your other, preferable life.

    In my own life, I’ve found it useful to own my choices. For example, I chose to buy a house, and thus I choose now to make my mortgage payments. I am not “stuck” making those payments any more than I am stuck at my job, or stuck in school, or stuck anywhere. We make choices every day, and I think it’s important to own those choices if we are to live a deliberate life. You choose to work because you want a certain lifestyle, and it is important to you to be accountable for the debt you acquired years ago. You could, technically, choose to abandon all of your self-imposed responsibilities, financial and otherwise, and run away to Mexico to be a surf bum, playing guitar for pesos on the street corner. But you don’t. You choose to stay where you are and work. Which means you must, at some level, WANT to do that. Own it. Obligation is a cop-out.

    I guess my point is that a little liberation can come from accepting responsibility for your choices every day. Try to focus on what you GAIN from working, instead of how work restricts your other activities. Maybe you have a close relationship with a coworker – be grateful for that. Or maybe you are learning a valuable lesson about money – be grateful for that. Or maybe work helps you structure your leisure time more efficiently – be grateful for that.

    After all, Cordelia, we are all so truly blessed. And if we spend our lives waiting for the elusive 2013 debt relief (or 2014 promotion, or 2020 kids’ graduations, or…?), we will never enjoy where we are at. Be happy now. There are adventures to be had every day. :D

    Keep up the good work!

    • cordeliacallsitquits

      Lately, I’m coming to be of a similar mindset in terms of owning your choices. If it were possible, I would wipe the slate clean today and start over, choosing a simpler lifestyle that would enable me to work less and have more time to devote to the things that really matter. But I understand that I still have to pay down the financial mistakes I made when I was younger (and not thinking deliberately), so even though my perspective might be changed now, I’m still “stuck” for a little while longer in the responsibilities I opted for years ago.

      I like your point about finding what you can in the work you have to do, though. Would I choose this job if I had everything to do over again? Absolutely not. Would I quit it today if that were financially viable? You bet. But all in all, it’s not a “bad” job as far as jobs go, even though it’s not really the job for me. The day in front of you is the only day you have to live, so I suppose I should be trying to find more positives in the day to day instead of continually waiting for that ultimate “goal.”

      Very thought-provoking take on this. Nicely done!

      ~Kelly

      • http://thisamericandiet.wordpress.com ThisAmericanDiet

        Yes! So right that “The day in front of you is the only day you have to live”. There is only now. Sounds so cliche, but it’s true! While it’s helpful to plan for the future, it’s detrimental to wait for it in order to enjoy our lives.

        Many of us have made choices which, in retrospect, might not have been the best. But we made them all the same. Hindsight is always 20/20, after all. But if we focus on channeling our present energy to learning from those choices (your debt, for instance), and making the most of the consequences (work), we can avoid squandering our emotional resources on regret. ;)

        You seem like a thoughtful woman. I’m sure you can find a way to discover the positives every day, even while at work. And that, in turn, may reveal to you a new path in the future. You’ll be amazed at the difference a simple attitude check can make!

        Good luck, Kelly!

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  • http://twitter.com/pinchthatpenny Bryan

    I have the exact same problem when it comes to writing, and somehow, you have beautifully, thoughtfully, and wonderfully expressed my issues (right down to the Big Bang Theory) and identified a solution.  I would say that I want to be you when I grow up, but it’s more correct for me to say I want to be you right now.

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Aww, thanks!  If you could be me right now, maybe you could help me get my arse started on writing this novel for real.  I’ve officially made it one of my Impossible League impossible challenges to get a draft finished in a year.  So now, just as with NaNo last year, I am locked in with tons of people to hold me accountable to actually just sitting down and Doing This.

      Take that, procrastination!  Bazinga!  :)

  • http://www.cricindian.com Teesra

    Loved reading articles here Cordelia. Will have to bookmark this :)

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      So glad you like them, Teesra!  Thanks for stopping by!  :)