Article,  Books

It’s All About Motivation

So, I’ve been trying (and mostly failing) for the past week to find the motivation to get on with my big university project so that I can finish it and get this big stress bubble off of my shoulders. But every time I sit with the laptop open and the word document ready, my mind simply goes blank and I can’t find the words in my head that need to fill the page. I often spend hours staring before giving up to go do something to help motivate myself.

A week later, my document is still completely empty, the research is still waiting to be rifled through and that deadline is getting ever closer, henceforth causing the stress to build up. (Which in turn makes it harder to sleep, making it harder to concentrate… horrid cycle to be trapped in, but that is a different story!) Today, I was sitting in front of the blank page and I thought to myself, “surely I’m not the only one who suffers from a lack of motivation.” And you know, I really don’t think I am. But I think, the way we motivate ourselves depends on who we are and what we need motivation for.

(*this poster was taken from google images but was found on “de-motivational”*)

Often, when I’m writing a novel or a short story or a script, the motivation to do it comes from the craziest of places. Sometimes it can be a song that gets me full of ideas, sometimes I can just be driving in my car and there happens to be a story that arrives in my head, sometimes a conversation can have me itching to reach for my pencil. In fact, motivation to write, creative motivation comes from nothing. It comes when I’m not thinking about writing.

But that is not the same for my academic work. When I’m not thinking about it, I’m just not thinking about it. In fact, I often feel a little less stressed when I’m not thinking about it as it doesn’t feel like a lead weight. But when I am thinking about it, I think the reason I can’t motivate myself is I’m not always just thinking about the work in front of me. I’m thinking about how many days I have left to work on it, I’m thinking about how important it is, how it’s almost over and how this one piece of work could be the difference between a good grade and an average grade, and that, for me, simply de-motivates me. So I’m left with an empty page, a day less to get the work done and added stress to my already painful shoulders.

(* this photo was taken from tumblr, here *)

So, while I work out a way around this (like switching off my brain, or at least part of it and just getting words on paper), I am reaching out to you, my followers, to see if there is anything that you do to help motivate yourself. Do you turn the music up so loud you can’t think? Do you find new songs? A new book? A decent film? Do you go for a drive? A run? A walk? Do you put it away and try again the next day?

What is it that makes you come out of the slump and back to whatever you need to be doing. Be it academic, creative or simply a review or article for you blog. I’m curious to know, and I am definitely curious if you have any suggestions for me. What do you think will help me to get out of my black hole?



  • Melissa

    I try lots of different things depending on the situation. You might want to try destressing a little first. I try a good long soak in a hot bath for that. Then, try and write just a little each day. Set a timer for an hour, and once that goes off, if you’re stuck, stop. If you’ve got a good flow going, keep going for a while. And there’s always the possibility of a good reward. If you give yourself a small reward for doing your work each day it might make it easier. Or you could give yourself a big reward at the end of the project.

    Oh, an this one is probably going to make me sound strange/crazy, but when something is really making me anxious I talk out loud to myself about it (only when alone of course) Somehow that helps me think of alternate solutions.

  • Terri Bruce

    My husband likes to set time limits – like “I’ll just work on this for five minutes” to force himself to work on stuff he is procrastinating on. If, after five minutes, he gets no where, then he moves on to something else. But usually he can get started and once he’s started then that’s all it takes to get a lot done on the project.

    Me, on the other hand – when I’m really stuck I need a deadline or “inciting incident.” I generally only clean house if I have company coming, so if the hosue starts to get really messy, I throw a party and invite my friends over so then I HAVE to clean up. I belong to a critique group in part so that I have deadlines when I HAVE to turn in pages/a chapter and that keeps me writing even when I’m stuck.

    Hope this helps!

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