The Shape of Motivation and Enjoyment
The featured image I chose for this post is from the EXO One Demo, in which the craft you control can shift in shape and function in service to the art of soaring above it all- skimming across clouds when you can but hardening into a ball with heavy mass to plummet groundward when your airborne energy dips. Down below you go, with the hope of finding that next burst of momentum to get above it all.
Then there’s all the stuff about rescuing a bunch of astronauts and going through a journey into space and alien planets — but that doesn’t really further this discussion any, so let’s put all that to the side.
“If you need to go looking for motivation then you’re already in trouble. But then this week isn’t about “finding” motivation. It’s about “keeping” it. We’re assuming you had it to begin with and you haven’t lost it yet. It’s just beginning to slip away.”Bhagpuss, Inventory Full – That’s Motivation! (2021)
I was reading Roger Edwards’ post, ‘Blogging: Do or Do Not‘ earlier today where only the first sentence of what I quoted from Bhagpuss there was referenced. Alone — and the point Roger then went to build around it — struck me a little discordantly and started the fire that has resulted in this post tonight. In amongst a day of work, I’m not sure I’ve really properly synthesised everything and so I’m falling back into my usual style of ‘thinking out loud’ as it were, onto the page here.
So who knows whether this will come out coherently in the end — but let’s find out together.
I should point out too — that respectively, Roger both specifies talking to the task of daily/regular blogging and Bhagpuss concedes without any necessary intervention on my part that what’s true for him isn’t universal. So this is less an argument, and more an expansion on the idea of individuality when it comes to motivation and enjoyment.
In the Moment vs. In Retrospect
This isn’t an entirely new conversation, in fact, Bhagpuss and I discussed it in the comments of last year’s Blapril — the difference in where we sourced our enjoyment in the act of participating in these events. Bhagpuss is, in my view, very fortunate. Fortunate because he is someone who takes great pleasure in the act of writing itself. Post by post and event by event. And it shows too — Bhagpuss’ prose is some of the best we have going, not least because of the underlying sense of fun; whether it is presenting as wry humour or something a little more exuberant.
For myself; that isn’t me. Not consistently, at least. It is the sort of grace I can perhaps touch once in a while before falling as Icarus. I’m not a writer. That’s a realisation I came to last year. Specifically, I don’t possess that innate drive to be writing. I don’t necessarily derive pleasure from the act of putting words to a page (although, sometimes I do)!
One of the things I said then, which I still believe to be true is:
I enjoy the benefits associated with blogging way more than actually putting these posts together. By which I mean — keeping in touch with the community; keeping track of my own history for later perusal; having an outlet to discuss my hobby of gaming… These are the reasons why for me.Naithin, Time to Loot – I’m Not a Writer (2020)
Those are all true and good reasons and might form part of the motivational/enjoyment ‘package’ of blogging for you too, but there’s more.
Where Bhagpuss finds joy in the act of creation, I find joy in the act of having created. Of having a thing that took effort and work and seeing it done. To completion. Be that a simple post or an entire challenging (for me) event, like Blaugust.
I’m almost loathe to put blogging and these next things in the same mental basket; but the parallels hold true I think, so I will. As with exercise or eating healthy — sure, some people will find in the moment enjoyment in these things. A lot more people find the results, or the entire package of having done so, to be the satisfying and enjoyable element.
Blogging, as with those things, are endeavours almost certainly easier to maintain motivation for if you’re able to garner enjoyment as you go and in the very process of it all — but I think the part I’m somewhat rebelling against is the idea that if you don’t, you can’t be successful in these pursuits.
It perhaps just takes being a little more clear, even in your own mind, why on earth you would be doing it. What is driving you? What benefit are you getting out of it? Finding those reasons and then really holding them tight when the challenge starts to feel too much.
Mental Blocks Can Still Hit Us All
And this has really been the focus of my advice this year. Recognition of the fact that it is stupidly easy to unwittingly build up additional barriers in a myriad of forms.
One of the most common forms is the building of unnecessary perceptions of obligation. I started this series- I must finish it. But I’m really not interested in the subject matter anymore. I must post three times a week! But I missed two posts already and I cannot possibly catch up. Final Fantasy posts are going really well right now! Ugh, but Elder Scrolls Online is looking particularly fetching this week.
Don’t believe it. Don’t let these things rule you. Your blog is yours and yours alone. Life happens. Minds change. Whatever the case may be, let it go and carry on.
You really can just carry on. No one will bat an eyelid. Honestly, it’s OK. Better by far to drop a particular ‘thing’ than the entire blogging endeavour instead.
Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway
One of our new bloggers from this Blaugust, Thyanel, wrote Staying Afraid — a piece that speaks to the amount of ‘self’ that can really go into producing content for the world at large. The insecurities that can easily follow.
It’s a post well worth reading for yourself, with a segue from a personal relation of this issue into Carrie Fisher / Princess Leia.
Mental blocks under this category can be immensely more difficult to work around and can steal the motivation and drive to post even from those who would otherwise fall happily in Bhagpuss’ camp of enjoying the act of writing in and of itself.
I don’t have a lot of additional advice to offer here beyond what Thyanel and Carrie Fisher suggested in the first place, but perhaps just a reinforcement of the encouragement that your voice does matter and you do deserve to have one.
So… “Staying” Motivated Then?
I think it’s a valid line of discussion.
I do not think anyone seeking a means of refilling their wellspring of energy in this regard is ‘in trouble’. It’s a more difficult road perhaps but not an unnavigable one.
Like the Exo Craft, it just takes a little bit of faith that in taking that rest and diving back toward the earth we can find that hill, that momentum, that motivation to take to the air and soar again, skipping with freedom over the clouds above for a time.