For the past 25 months, I have published a post on this blog, consistently, every single day.
I don’t really like talking about this, because it makes me sound … proud. I mean, I am, don’t get me wrong. It’s a huge accomplishment, and something I fully intend to keep up with for as long as I am able. But having posted so consistently for what feels like so long (in a good way — I’m not bored or anything) actually speaks to an important point I’d like to address: motivation.
What keeps a writer motivated to write more than often seems possible?
I often struggle to understand why so many people have issues with this. It’s not because I’m not empathetic to those who have problems focusing, or mental health issues, or honestly just a lot going on in their lives that makes them put writing on the back burner so readily. I get all that, trust me.
But it makes me question how in tune people really are with their passions.
Yes, I used the word ‘passion.’ You know, that thing people try to say can’t make you money or whatever.
I’m not saying these people are lazy! No! Stuff happens! It’s OK!
But we really need to rethink how important passion is when it comes to our work.
Writing is weird, because it’s a creative profession. Same with sculpting or playing the violin or ballet. Hard work isn’t all that easy to see from the outside. So a lot of people wonder how a sculptor or a violinist or a ballerina gets so gosh darn good at what they do.
Passion isn’t the whole pie. But I’m pretty confident in guessing, for most people — regardless of your profession — would agree it’s a pretty big piece.
I don’t blog because I want a bunch of followers or because people are surprised when they discover I’m a crazy person armed with a wireless keyboard. I do this because I like it. If I hated doing this, if I dreaded waking up every single morning knowing I was going to have to write ANOTHER blog post today, I would have quit 24 months ago.
How do I keep it up? I like it. That’s literally the only thing that drives me most of the time. Comments are nice, knowing I’m helping people is wonderful. But I’m not here to make a living, I’m not here to pretend like I know All The Things just to attract an audience. I am here because I write. A lot. I like writing. A lot. When there is nothing else here to motivate me, that is all I need. That is enough.
Questions about motivation are, and have always been, extremely difficult for me to answer. How do I stay motivated to write? I literally just do it. And I do it because, at the end of the day, it makes me happy; it makes me feel accomplished; it reminds me that I have an actual purpose in this world. I understand that’s not enough for many aspiring writers. That’s why I repeat, as often as I can without beating you senselessly over the head with it, that you have to like what you’re writing about. If you’re writing about X for the sake of writing about X, you will never last.
Motivation to earn, to grow — it’s all numbers. That’s a huge motivation for me, too — I get it. But sometimes, I just want to crawl under my blankets and watch Netflix and not blog about what it’s like to be a writer. Some days, a blog post is barely all I can manage to do because my brain is throwing tantrums. That’s still enough for me. I’m not me when I’m not doing this. Whether my love for writing comes through in these posts or not, I hope you know that’s why I do what I do. Because it gives me life. Because I’ve been building this blog for 8 years, and I am so, so proud of what it has become. If I could write 10 blog posts every day — and if it wouldn’t drive you insane — I would.
In life, you have to search for the passions that make you want to Human when Humaning is hard. If nothing else in your life is stable or OK, at least that one thing always will be.
So instead of asking how to stay motivated, instead ask yourself this: what makes me want to get up and Do Things when I don’t want to? That is your passion. That is the thing you should go after with all your strength and resources. For me, that just happens to be writing. It might be writing for you, too — or something that involves the same skills, even if your job title is a little different. All that matters is that you find The Thing, and you do The Thing, and you enjoy The Thing, and you live your life always knowing The Thing will be there, driving you forward, making everything bearable that wouldn’t be without it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.