I’ve lost motivation. Not just with NaNoWriMo, although that’s looking pretty dismal right now. I’ve lost motivation with just about everything. All I want right now is to sit on my butt and only do what I feel like doing at any given moment. Nothing more.


So… My stats tell me a few interesting things. The first is that at my current rate, I’ll finish my submission on December 12. The second is that I still need 1,800 words a day to finish on time, despite how hard I tried to get ahead last week. The third is that I’m averaging 1,700 words a day, even though last week I was doing over 2,000 a day, easily. Shut up, NaNoWriMo stats!

The final thing those mean stats tell me is that I haven’t written anything in five days. This isn’t true, of course. I wrote a lot while I was out of town. Almost every day. A good 5,000 words. Just… not on my NaNoWriMo story. Because I’m a big dumbo and just kept opening the wrong document. I’d open it thinking, wow I should open the other one. If I open the other one, I will work on it. Which is true. But did I open it? Hell, no. I opened the behemoth, because that’s what I wanted to do. And like I said, all I want to do right now is exactly what I want to do. Nothing more. And I wanted to work on my behemoth.

I have this dumb thought. Ever have a dumb thought that you know is dumb, so dumb you’re embarrassed to tell other people, but you can’t stop thinking it anyway? I have one of those. That dumb thought is…. Well, first I should say that when I started my behemoth last year, I had no plans for when I could finish it. It wasn’t fully planned when I started it, and I had no idea when I’d figure out everything that had to happen. But at some point, maybe around June, when I hit about 350 pages, I knew all the events that had to happen. I had a rough time line, and I knew that I had enough planned to finish the book.

And so I started thinking, how cool would it be to finish this thing in a year? I started it on December 13, and if I could finish it within a year, that would be my biggest accomplishment with writing. Doesn’t matter that this behemoth already is my biggest accomplishment. The first thing I’ve planned fully from beginning to end, the longest book I’ve ever written by far, the only one I’ve been able to focus on for more than a couple months at a time, the only one I’ve let more than one person read, among other things. But none of that matters, because I just keep thinking, maybe I can finish it in a year. Awesome.

And so my dumb thought is this: If I focus on this story now, in November, instead of NaNoWriMo, I could finish it in a year. Stupid, right? Because if I focus on NaNoWriMo and the other story, I could finish two books by January. A much bigger accomplishment. Seriously… it’s one month. If I finish the book in a year and one month, is that really going to be less awesome than finishing it in a year? And what is this one year deadline anyway? Something arbitrary that I chose because I’m obsessed with numbers and deadlines. But whatever it is, it has my brain all screwed up about NaNoWriMo. Writing should just be writing, right? But I’m so obsessed with this behemoth right now that it’s not. I’ve convinced myself that writing that is more important than writing anything else. Dumb.


And here’s the next bit of dumbness. As much as I want to work on my behemoth, my brain is just tired. It doesn’t want to focus on writing. Even now, as I write this, I’m thinking about other things. Mainly, I’m thinking, what is the point of a blog? Do people actually care about my thoughts? I hardly care about my thoughts, why would anyone else? What is with blogs? Why do we write them if we have nothing important to say? And I definitely feel like I have nothing important to say.

So, unmotivated about this blog. Unmotivated about NaNoWriMo. And after that four-day marathon driving and playing trip, which was fun but very tiring, I’m even unmotivated on my behemoth. I don’t know what I want to do, exactly. It’s not like I want to sit around watching TV all day. I just don’t particularly want to write. And I sure as hell don’t want to play violin.


What is playing violin? Sometimes it occurs to me that it’s just a damn weird job. Sometimes I can’t believe that people pay me to do it. It’s one of those jobs that isn’t essential to society. Like if there was some disaster and the world became a dystopia, playing and teaching music would be one of the first things to go. People would see a Stradivarius and think, FIREWOOD! Let’s burn that thing!

And even aside from the fact that it sometimes doesn’t seem very important, it’s just physically weird. Have you ever held a violin? You have to twist your left arm upside down and backwards and hold it up for half an hour at a time, and with your right arm you saw away with a bow constantly, until both your arms feel like they’re going to fall off. You’d think, after playing for 18 years, I’d be used to it. That I wouldn’t get tired anymore. But if anything, it’s worse now than when I was younger. I’m 27. Not exactly one foot in the grave, but holy crap. My body feels like it’s wearing down already. Sometimes when I play violin, all I can think is, what the hell am I doing to myself? This is painful. My back hurts, my neck hurts, my shoulders are sore, my fingers are cramped… why am I doing this?

So, of course, because this is what my brain always does when I have thoughts like that, I consider quitting. But I’ve only been serious about quitting violin twice in my life. Once as a sophomore because I didn’t get along with my teacher, and he made me feel like I would never make it as a violinist, and once in graduate school. And that time in graduate school was what got me going on the hobbies.


I’m not really a hobby person. I have one hobby: writing. And at the back of my mind, I keep hoping that writing is maybe something more than a hobby. Somewhere in that vague grey area between doing something for money, and just doing it for fun. I suppose that’s called a passion. I don’t like that word, though. I need to think of a better one. I’d appreciate suggestions.

I never tried to have hobbies as a kid. I never thought about it. I suppose, back then, that playing violin was a hobby. I had violin, and I had my writing, and I was a happy kid. Well… about as happy a kid as I am an adult, anyway. I used to like drawing, and now I kind of like painting. But I have this weird thing about hobbies. I always want to be good at my hobbies. If I’m not good at them, I tend to quit. And if I am good at them, I take them too seriously. I start to wish I could make money at them. I start to think, I shouldn’t be spending this much time at something if I’m not getting paid for it. What’s the point? I shouldn’t spend $100 a year on painting supplies. I have to work for that $100, and what does painting give me in return? Pretty pictures. Those pretty pictures can get bent!

Since graduate school, I’ve gotten into painting, zoology, cultural anthropology, flying airplanes, cooking. I still like all of those things just fine, but I don’t do them anymore, except cooking. I quit all of them, like I quit all hobbies. Just because I got burnt out on them, lost motivation, and didn’t like them quite enough to push through that.

My new hobby right now is archery. I love it. I’m not good at it, and sometimes that frustrates me. So how do I deal with that, and not quit? I tell myself that this hobby is for my health. Because I have weak shoulders and arms, and that doesn’t work as a violinist. When I do archery, playing violin hurts less. So I have to keep shooting, because it’s good for my health. It’s the only way I can just keep going when I get mad that my arrows keep going off target and I don’t know how to fix it.

So I’m bad at hobbies. I can’t just do something because I enjoy doing it. I have to have a reason. And I have to be good at it. Have to, or I just get pissed off and quit. Or, as happens more often, I lose motivation but force myself to keep doing it until I start to hate it. I ruin hobbies, because I don’t know how to just shut the hell up and enjoy them.

And so that’s how I know that I could never quit writing or playing violin. Because I have seriously considered quitting both. Heck, I have quit both, at some point in my life. But I always come back to them. On my own, too. Not even because my mother or husband or anyone says I should. I choose to come back to them, and that tells me that they’re here to stay. I care about them. Sometimes I hate both of them so much that I want to smash my violin and delete my 590-page document and run down the street screaming and never look back… But I know I never would. Because I love writing, and I love playing violin.

Right now, though… I could give a crap about either of them. All I want to do is play computer games, eat potatoes, and pretend I don’t have a job and am not doing NaNoWriMo.


2 responses to “Motivation

  1. No useful advice for you, I’m afraid.
    When I’m feeling unmotivated, I address the thing that a) is bugging me the most and b) will give me the most pleasure if I accomplish it.
    Not sure if it works though, by the time I complete it, I’ve usually forgotten why it was bothering me in the first place.

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