I began to draft a post on this topic on Sunday, intending to meet my [self-imposed] deadline of releasing a semi-monthly post by the 15th of every month, but my get-up-and-go got up and went.
Much as been written about Motivation, and its cousin, Passion, and I do not intend to go over all that old ground so ably covered by thousands of scholars and philosophers before me. But the real point of my exploration of these twin topics is not so much the presence of motivation and passion to engage and pursue any endeavour but the absence of it, or perhaps more accurately the losing of it. What does one do in the face of disappointment, and discouragement? How to keep motivated when faced with doubt and competing demands for your diminished energies.
It’s easy enough to get a healthy and eager pup to leap out of his bed at the sound of the leash; it’s another thing to coax a tired and jaded senior to be stirred, even when bribed with a promised treat.
I began to turn my attention to the looming deadline for my semi-monthly blog post last weekend and I didn’t have a topic in mind. I finally tore myself away from working on my novel, driven to complete the first draft of the manuscript by the end of November. I was up to 99,000 words and the end was in sight. Still, I knew there were at least three more Revisions to go before I could allow myself to believe I’d done enough. I was in flow and motivated to keep driving, even though from time to time doubt would creep into my mind – was it good enough to publish, or was I merely delusional. It didn’t help that sales of The Treasure of Stella Bay had stalled – many of my retailers were giving me the message it was time to remove them for their shelves. Hmmm…
Okay, let that go, I needed to get my blog done.
However, I also had a number of looming deadlines and obligations to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Authors Association, and I was feeling squeezed to find the energy, time and effort to do both. Or perhaps rephrase that: Time is constant – there’s only 168 hours in a week and it’s a matter of how we utilize our energies to accomplish what we want in the fixed amount of time available to do it. Time is not the enemy – planning and prioritizing is the solution to that problem – but finding the energy to sustain motivation is.
That prompted me to think of this topic – motivation and passion, and their obstacles – as a useful theme for my blog, ‘Travels With Myself’. I started to draft something on Sunday and quickly realized this was potentially too big a topic to knock off in an afternoon. So, pressure to produce this blog on time was now having to compete with my other obligations and passions. So what does an old dog do? – take nap.
So I gave myself license to work on this topic over the next couple of weeks and maybe have something worthwhile to post by mid-November.
Or as Frederick Herzberg has so wisely offered, half a century ago: To get a mule to move you can bribe him, or beat him, (Extrinsic Motivators) but you won’t get much performance out of him. Or you can find out what truly motivates a mule to move (Intrinsic Motivators) and create those conditions to get desired performance.
So, for humans, or aspiring authors at least, motivation may not be the problem, but allocation of effort and the competition between competing obligations may be. Let’s dig a little deeper into this theme next time, November 15
Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata, Canada
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