Let’s apply and skim the concept of the purported motivational phrase; “you’re never going to feel like it” or “you’re never going to feel like doing it”.
This phrase is often used to establish a mentality that someone should push through whatever obstacles or mental/emotional resistance occurs, in order to force themselves to act upon something for a bigger picture, to achieve something that at some point, that person declared it was something they wanted to accomplish.
It’s a phrase that I’d like to explore, in regards to authorship and fiction writing.
I’ll start with what bothers me about the phrase. As a naturally passionate person, I am aware the statement taken literally is simply not true.
If taken literally, ‘you are never going to feel like it‘ is absolutely a false statement.
Unless a person is clinically depressed and/or there is something heavy weighing on their consciousness, then eventually, that person is going to be moved to feel like doing something. After all, why would someone think of doing something that they’d never felt like doing?
This something could be small or large or planned or completely spontaneous. Passion is variable and changeable, like the wind.
Understanding this, and not enforcing judgment that there is only one or two things worthy of spending time and energy on, the statement that someone will never feel like doing “it” can only be accurately applied to a certain set of people who are otherwise ignoring a life goal of their own choosing.
This is a fairly narrow parameter.
It is not a sweeping life reality.
The very instance of someone having a life goal means that at some point in their life, they felt like doing it! Otherwise, why else would they have that goal?
If they didn’t feel like doing it when they thought of it, maybe it isn’t something that they should be doing… Not to completely regress to the similarly related Ursula Le Guin and Pearl S. Buck discussion, but for these situations, perhaps the focus of the individual shouldn’t shift to finding aggressive motivation to force something along, but instead focus on introspectively exploring motivations behind the fixation or desired behavior that isn’t already being incorporated into life.
Because there will be days where you will feel like doing “it”.
Whether these days are frequent is another issue entirely. Whether you respect those moments of feeling and devote your time to fulfilling that feeling, there are many points of resistance even within the sensation of “feeling like doing it”.
From my own experience; No, I don’t feel like writing every day.
There are certain days that occur where writing is all I want to do. The focus flows effortlessly. It seems like the most intuitive, natural thing in the world in those fleeting moments.
This is not exclusive to writing, this applies to cleaning, errands, research, anything. There are days where I feel like doing it and then there are days where it’s not that I don’t feel like doing it, but I feel like doing other stuff!
A reason why this tricksy pseudo-motivational mentality is spread about…. well, other than the vague generality of it, which is seemingly popular in corporate mentalities in a similar way that astrology is popular in magazines.
But the reason why this mentality is so easily spread around might be that what it actually refers to is gaining monetary reward in the wake of passionate interests.
To be viable in a Capitalist society, yes, people will say you’re going to have to force yourself on the days you don’t feel like doing it, to not wait around for those few perfect days of intuitive motivation to hit you, but to work! Keep working! It’s your job, right? So, create products that can be swallowed more and more, so that you – as a business entity – might stay viable, might succeed, might be considered a smart and savvy person.
In this terribly economic vein, the phrase is an accurate statement.
If I literally only wrote when I felt like it, it might take decades for me to finish my stories. Maybe. It also might not.
Not that taking decades would even be a bad thing in a profound artistic understanding of the creative experience…. but in a capitalistic mode of retaining monetary income? It could be career-destroying… or so archaically derivative corporate-mode interests claim.
The last few months, I’ve been experimenting between forcing myself to write and writing when I feel like it, as well as writing for myself and writing for an intended audience.
There are definite downsides to forcing motivation. The upside is that you’ll most likely have a product eventually (hopefully, ideally, presumedly), that something will be packaged to give to others for compensation. It might be a crappy product, but ayyyy, better than no product…. right?!
After all, a viable business can’t be built solely on passionate whims. Work is work and it can be hard. Sometimes the more committed to the work we are, the greater likelihood of completion and potential rewards may occur.
But to say that someone will never feel like doing the work…. again, that is completely false unless it is narrowly focused on a very particular context and to a subset of people who already accept such a mentality as truth.
Another statement that might be more accurate while supporting the same mode of thought is “If you want it, get it!” or “If you need to do it, then get it done!”
If you want to be an author, GET TO IT!
Do something to move towards that goal. Make a plan, and put forth an effort as much as you can, as often as you can. Never give up. Self-publishing has made it so that writers are the only ones holding themselves back from moving forward… beyond that sticky notion of finding willing and enthusiastic readers, that is.
Still, even with this understanding, that doesn’t mean a writer should whip themselves into a frenzy of capitalist-centered guilt that they aren’t creating products fast enough.
There is only so much time in the day and to beat ourselves up over not doing a singular activity every day could be harmful to the overall process and experience of our personal journeys.
I struggle with applying this understanding in a compromising manner still. The only routine that I maintain is a routine of mutable whims and creative passion, regardless of what alarms I set, what creative life I try to emulate (like that time I foolishly tried to schedule my waking hours to be similar to authors I admired.), what product I want to be bought, even what schedule I set for myself. If it’s not something I truly desire to do, then I won’t do it. If it’s something I actually want to do, then in time, eventually, I will do it.
I can keep to routines for around 6-9 days, but after that, I need a break to follow my in-the-moment whims! The longer I stubbornly maintain a routine, the longer my break needs to be and the more forceful the need becomes until I have to take a break, usually forced by an external incident.
For instance, there are stretches of time, about a week or two, where I will write every day… but after these stubborn sprints, the break I take will easily be a week-long as well. Comparably, if I force a routine for 3 days, the break usually only lasts a day or two. Perhaps it is a way to keep temperance and moderation in my life, subconsciously… then again, sometimes it feels as if I’m just going back and forth between two extremes instead of finding a perfect balance.
I do not write every day, though. Even during NaNoWriMo, I tend to intuitively give myself breaks here and there.
And you know what, for me, those spaces in-between are very important to the creation of my novels.
I could get down on myself for not working myself harder or not forcing my fingers to type words and just finish something. I have gotten down on myself before about it. Even when I am able to logically conclude certain understanding, emotionally, I still struggle to comprehend it in a way that applies to my daily existence.
But…. when I truly seek the fact of the matter, I don’t feel the need to berate myself for not writing every day or taking day-long breaks from my work.
I’m aware that in the back of my mind (and sometimes even in the forefront), I am constantly developing and working on my stories and the concepts underlying them, why I am writing them, and why I am still working on books I started three years ago. Not to mention that I’m aware that I’ll probably be working on these same stories 3, 5, 7, 10 years out. Hopefully in sequel novels, but lol.
I’m also aware that one day, I am going to die. It is when I consider this that it is most likely I’ll feel guilty about not finishing my stories already.
Death is the only real motivation that gets me working in useful fashion. Knowing that I won’t be here forever, that I only have limited time to create, it makes me feel guilty for not spending more time on my projects… even though, I already spend a good 75% of my time on them.
Well, in a way, my novels are my children and I will not rush their development while I raise them simply for an idealistic corporate model to create flash-in-the-pan, imaginary profits.
Because there is purpose to not doing the work.
It brushes up to philosophical conversation about nothing, and whether nothing is truly nothing or if it is simply something that is perceived by us as stillness, space, “nothing”, etc. Silence is no sound, but silence is still something.
If an author derives inspiration from films/tv or music or whatever, it takes time to let that inspiration sink in enough that it will be applied to whatever work is being created in a non-derivative way.
Sometimes, forcing writing or working on a book is counterproductive. Of course, this is dependent on personal, individual goals for the writing journey.
If your goal is to increase word-counts or get faster at writing longer paragraphs, then writing daily can be great for that.
Yet if your goal is to become aware of grammar, writing daily might help… but not as much as daily editing will.
If your goal is to create authentic art, then writing daily might hinder that goal depending on personal process. It doesn’t hurt to sketch every day, but don’t expect to create a complete oil painting every single day or even every month. Individual human creations aren’t meant to be factories that churn out products, not unless you’re an Andy Warhol with a crew of peons. And whoever said Warhol’s art was remembered for being authentic?
If the goal is to create as much creative content as possible to pick and choose passages for future books or to compile a book from snippets, then writing daily can sometimes be helpful… but it can also make the passages seem wildly inconsistent unless you have a strong editorial approach afterwards.
Spaces, breaks in writing, allow the brain to rest, recover and consider alternative perspectives to handling plot issues, character development, artistic choices in the direction of the story and narration. To me, it is a similar process as sleeping – simply sleeping whilst awake.
I write blog posts often, but of the 60-70% of posts I write, I discard. I refine and sift through my thoughts to make sure what I am saying is as close to how I am thinking about the topic(s) at the time. Sometimes, this happens fast, within a few days. Sometimes, it takes longer – weeks, even months.
Guess what though…. It happens faster (and imo, better) when I actually feel like writing a blog post and there are definitely days where I feel like blogging.
On those days I don’t feel like blogging, I focus my efforts on what I actually feel like doing and sure, sometimes that causes my passion to be spread as thin as melted butter on toast, but it’s what I do and it’s who I am right now on my journey.
What about you?
Are there days where you feel like actually doing hard work like writing or editing or cleaning or anything that others might say “you’re never going to feel like doing it“? Do you find you produce better work when you’re forcing yourself along or when you intuitively feel in the zone? Is it more useful to take breaks than to enforce daily writing? How do you experience your writing process on a daily basis vs. a larger picture basis?