You may have noticed that this blog reads like a tug of war, or a rollercoaster ride. I’ve noticed that I’m oscillating between two versions of myself: The guy who loves to write and is so excited to have the privilege to do so; and the guy who doesn’t want to sit on the seat, caress the keyboard, or persuade the prose to pour out of himself.
A couple of interesting observations about this:
- Nobody will die if this book doesn’t get written.
- But a part of me will die if I give up on myself and don’t write it.
- Caffeine and chocolate and sugar all help my motivation and energy levels to get started.
- But longer term they mess with my sleep and routine, which makes my writing practice hit the skids.
- I get excited when I can see progress, no matter how small.
- But I get frustrated when the progress I see is only small.
… and so on.
My favourite part of this is how universal these oscillations are. To do the work that truly matters to us, we each live and breathe an internal tug of war, between doing what is easy (i.e. nothing) and doing what is right (i.e. our art).
This conversation about doing my art feels reminiscent of my appraisal of my own experience with depression. Essentially: I have the in-built tendency toward depressive behaviour, so I have to manage it on a daily basis by minimising my triggers, and maximising my positive behaviours.
My writing, my art, is much the same. Clarified: I have the in-built tendency to do the cop-out things, like scroll endless newspaper articles and social media feeds, or read books, or watch movies. I have to manage those tendencies on a daily basis by minimising the things that take me away from my best creative state, and maximising my chances of success.
I don’t think for a second this is a unique perspective. I read about it in Stephen Pressfield’s book The War of Art only a few weeks ago. But, I know it’s the first time I’ve spent this long thinking about it and how it relates to my own creative output. I’m determined to make the most of my creative ability, hence I must maximise my chances of successful creation.
This is really relevant today, because I sat down to write after a few interesting and unusual circumstances.
I helped Bel run a public event for around 200 parents and kids in Darwin, followed by a screening of That Sugar Film. We had to pack up and drive the bus both to and from the event (it was a major visual drawcard), and we didn’t return to the campground until around 10:45pm (no doubt annoying our neighbours with our BEEP BEEP BEEP reversing…).
I was (and still am) completely wired on sugar from some amazing ice cream (Oh, the irony after our film screening), plus some 90% dark chocolate from much earlier in the day, plus a coffee at around 5pm. Frankly, I should – and do – know better.
Sitting down to write was easy, and I smashed out 640 words on my manuscript in about 15 minutes, plus this 600-odd word blog in another 15-20. But I know I will likely have trouble switching off to sleep, and tomorrow we packup and drive to Kakadu/Jabiru before some work in Arnhem Land.
It’s really exciting, but there’s a better-than-average chance I’ll be exhausted. I’ll report in tomorrow and let you know how my routine, and motivation to continue to write, stacks up.
Do you struggle with motivation? What kind of tendencies do you have?
Importantly, what would you love to create if you could harness your creativity? I’d love to hear. Hit me up here.