Motivation vs. Commitment vs. The Third Option

Eventually, you all are going to learn to not trust me.

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For example, I might tell you to go straight right here.

About a month and a half ago, I posted some advice regarding whether one should write when one feels like it or if one should stick to a rigid schedule. And look who you’re getting advice from: an unpublished author who still has much to learn. This blog is more than an advice/review/awesome stories hub. It’s a document of my progress as a writer. And I’ve progressed to the point where I think blind commitment isn’t an easy, fix-it-all solution.

Most of this new writing strategy is for the benefit of my mental health instead of my writing life. My therapist and I, working though the various inner parts that exist in me, discovered viciousness in the critical part. Critical parts should act like a gentle nudge to your heart. My critical part, psychologically and physiologically, acted like a battering ram. My anxiety leads to depression, and my critical parts lead to anxiety. So, in the past few months, I’ve shifted from bowing down to the critical parts to raging against the critical parts to comforting the critical parts when they act up. I began to see the critical parts (an interpretation based on a dream of mine) as a dying old man, grabbing onto my shoulders with desperate occasional lunges while I dutifully stayed by his bedside at the request of my family— the people who developed my conscience and, as an indirect result, gave me the dying old man. Nowadays, instead of letting the old man pull me down, I console him while I slowly, in my head, remove his hands from my shoulders. I lay him down. He’s dying, he can’t rule over me anymore. That’s what I go though when the critical parts try to bully their way into making me do something, even if it’s writing.

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So that Tumblr post that tells you to force yourself to create? Maybe not best for me at this stage of my life. And something else worth noting: I’ve exceeded all my writing goals these past few weeks just by writing when I feel like it. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I also had hella lots of assignments due in all of my classes. But this time, instead of stressing out over the projects, I went with the flow, listened to my heart’s desires. Used the Force, in other words. And I came through the whole process, of major projects required from classes all at once, less stressed than I should have been. The only time I fell into depression this November was when I said No, Nick, you’re going to have to postpone bedtime for another four hours so you can work. After you sleep, you will continue working until it’s all done.

Am I forced, then, to choose between my art and my health? Not forever, no. One day I’ll be able to listen to my critical parts without wanting to shut down. But for now, I need to let free the part of me that really loves to write. It exists, no doubt. But forcing yourself into writing can splash water on a furnace of creativity, only creating smoke to make the furnace less effective and everything else smoky.

The third option, when it comes to when you should write, is to force yourself to follow your heat’s immediate and fleeting whims. Write or edit when you feel like it. But whenever that feeling strikes— and for writers, it will happen often— pick it up and lose yourself in the process without hesitation. Even if “you’re writing the wrong things.” Even if “you should be working on other projects.”

I’ve kept my weekly goal with this blog, and now you know it’s not because I’m forcing myself to.

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2 thoughts on “Motivation vs. Commitment vs. The Third Option

  1. Everyone agrees that when the old man is too old to drive that you should take away the keys. But we are reluctant to do that because you know that the old man will resent it and you will need to be his chauffeur at times. However that’s better than letting the old coot kill somebody. Congratulations on taking the keys away from him so he can’t drive you anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: My Current Writing Schedule (July 2016) – Word Salad Spinner

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