Monday, June 15, 2015

Don't Break the Chain: How I Got Motivated (Again)


Maybe motivation isn't a problem for you, but sometimes it is for me.

When it comes to blogging it's (usually) easy for me to sit down and write a post. It was harder when no one read my blog and no one ever commented. But now, I have all the factors working towards me. People read my blog, people (seem) to like my blog, I like my blog, I like to write on my blog. It's easy to create for my blog when I know that there's an immediate appreciation of it. I write a post, I post it and the next day there's comments on it. Perfect.

However, when it comes to writing for my personal projects, it's a different story. I'm a thinker. I come up with all the ideas and jot them down. I make story boards and plot graphs. I'm basically the queen of planning, but after a few weeks of working on a project that I was excited for, I lose motivation. Usually it's because I don't really think the project will be successful.

This mindset led me into a vicious cycle of not creating anything. For a wannabe writer, this is a bad place to be. I felt guilty for not doing something I knew I wanted needed to do for me, and at the same time I couldn't bring myself to put in the work that I knew would relieve that guilt. Normally, if I don't want to pursue a hobby then I don't. Why do something that's supposed to be fun if it's not fun? But writing is different; with the risk of sounding hokey, it's more than a hobby. The need to create something meaningful doesn't go away, and sometimes it's hard, but putting in that hard work is what makes it so sweet. Does that makes sense? I hope so.

Anyways, I was stuck in this guilt/no motivation rut, until the Fall semester of last year when I took a creative writing course. That course, obviously, had deadlines which prompted me to create pieces, finish them, and turn them in. The looming deadline was the motivation I needed. This class was the spark that got me writing again. It took away that strange fear and self-doubt that had prevented me from getting back into it.

However, once the course ended, I didn't jump right back into full-on writer mode. I let ideas stew in my brain for a few months, sometimes jotting down a few words on the weekend. I could feel myself slipping back into my usual habits, and I didn't want that to happen again. As Summer is beginning, so is the feeling of a fresh start, so what better time than now to make some new goals. To meet those goals, I used my tried and true method of the Don't Break the Chain calendar by Karen Kavett.



Don't Break the Chain is all about completing an activity every. single. day. Each day you get to cross off the date, creating a chain effect, that you don't want to break. If you don't do said activity, you don't get to cross off the date, thus breaking the chain. This is a mental game that works very well for me (I've been using it since January to remind me to read my Bible each day). What's even better is that Karen just came out with a specific Summertime Don't Break the Chain calendar for June, July, August and September.

So with my Don't Break the Chain calendar printed and at the ready, June 1st I committed to writing 100 words a day. It's not much, but it's enough to keep me going. It was exactly what I needed, and I'm proud(ish) to to say that I've made it through the first 15 days without breaking the chain.

I wanted to share this little anecdote of what worked for me, because I know that many of you are in the same boat. I also wanted to write this down for my own posterity. I get in these ruts often enough that I need to remind myself how I pulled myself out of them. If you're interested in using this method, for whatever you want to accomplish, you can check out her Summertime Calendar post here, and her full year Calendar post here.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have any projects that are calling your name this summer? Are you going to try the Don't Break the Chain calendar? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments!

Yay! It's the first of many summer posts on SOI again! Click here to read the ones from last year.

Reading: Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee
Listening: The Astronaut Wives' Club by Lily Koppel on audiobook
Watching: Casey Neistat vlogs

20 comments:

  1. That is a fantastic idea. I used to use a similar concept for studying Italian. I figured as long as I did a lil bit everyday, I could continue to improve. It is a great way to stay motivated. And for me honestly, once I JUST GET STARTED I often find a writing spark and get a lot done. The hardest part is starting.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. The hardest part is definitely starting! I too find that once I get going I almost always end up writing more than 100 words, or I end up doing some revisions.

      Also, Italian sounds very cool. What a great way to think about learning a whole new language! Props to you!

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  2. That's a cool idea! Last month I started keeping a list of goals, and each day I'd write down anything I did that contributed toward those goals. Having some daily progress helped me get out of inertia and moving forward.

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    1. Oooo! That's a good idea! I might start writing down progress as I'm going too.

      Thanks for stopping by SOI!

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  3. I'm in the same boat. You've got one oar, I've got the other; I'm right there. I like the sound of this calendar, I might have to try it out sometime. :)

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    1. LOL that comment cracked me up. If we're in the same boat, we're probably rowing in circles, my friend. If you end up trying this, let me know how it works out for you!

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  4. It's so cool that you're finding a way to motivate yourself! I think my issue is a matter of priorities... Writing just isn't up there right now. I am planning to focus more on writing next month, so maybe I'll do something similar for July!

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    1. I've been through periods where blogging is a higher priority than writing, and I had to let myself be okay with that. Good luck in July! Hope it works out for you:)

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  5. Good luck with your committment! I could relate the whole time because I have all these brilliant ideas in my head and I plan and all, but it all turns out to be one big spike of energy because after that I lose motivation. :') An example is my blog (this is my 20th blog and before that I couldn't commit to the other ones). Thanks for sharing the anecdotes, I'll use those to help with the blog committing thing. :P

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    1. I'm glad that my anecdotes helped! I always tell people that you have to push through the first six months of blogging to make it. Those first months are always the hardest, because barely anyone reads your blog, which is discouraging, but at the same time you have to keep writing in order to bring readers in.

      Good luck with your current blog! I hope this one sticks:)

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  6. Did you hear that the Astronauts Wives' Club is becoming a television show? I think you'll really enjoy it. ;)
    ~ Sanjana
    peridotcove.blogspot.com

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    1. I did! I'm contemplating whether of not I need to get into a another tv show though.

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  7. Having lack of motivation is hard to beat sometimes! I had that last year when some crushing critique through me into a writer depression.This year I've barely taken a break and I'm finally going to take one in August or September. XD I have some editors and agents interested in my book so that's been my motivation factor. :) I know what you mean about that inner need to write something meaningful. It's one big thing that keeps me going especially on days when I really don't feel like writing or editing.

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. A crushing critique can send any writer into a tail spin. I'm so glad that you pulled yourself out of it and are back on track! It's amazing that there's some professional interest in your book!

      Thanks for commenting!

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  8. That IS such a good idea!! GOOD ON YOU, TOO. I know heaps of writers who say they have this problem, but they don't seem to attempt to fix it. So you did, YOU ARE AWESOME. I hope you keep it up. ;-) I'm more of a binge-writer. So as soon as I get myself psyched for a project I go go go for it and can't even turn myself OFF. It's a bit intense. XD I'm my biggest motivator though and I actually don't procrastinate that much. >_> I know. Throw things at me. I have very detailed mental schedules.

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    1. Thanks! I think you're pretty awesome for being such a writing sprinter. Some people are sprinters, where they go go go until they get to the finish line, and other people, like me, are reluctant marathoners that have to be lured through the race with the promise of food and water, haha.

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  9. This is a great idea, and that's awesome you haven't broken the chain yet! I need to get back into writing for my own projects. Even blogging can be a bit difficult for me sometimes. It just takes effort at times, but a friend of mine and I really want to write our book ideas so we've decided to try and hold each other accountable, so that's one way to do things too.

    -Lauren

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    1. A buddy system for holding each other accountable is another great way of staying on track. I go on and off with my motivation for blogging, so I understand how that feels.

      Good luck with your new project and thanks for visiting SOI!

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  10. Wooooooaaaahhhh this is true genius!!!! You are a wonderful person for sharing this and I 100% approve. ^_^

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    1. Haha, thanks! I'm so glad you find it helpful!

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