How to Keep Going when Motivation is not Around the Corner

Everybody has experienced those days: You wake up and feel low. You don´t understand why; just the night before, you were planning your next day and looking forward to it with anticipation. But then it came a bad night. Maybe you couldn´t sleep as good as you wanted; or simply woke up the next morning and felt down and unmotivated. You walk towards the window and you see its raining outside, big grey clouds dominating the sky.

You are supposed to keep working on that important piece of work; on that project. For us writers, you know what it is…. Write! But the feeling is universal. 

So, you go to the kitchen and have breakfast. Check the news. Check the social media… suddenly you end up in Tik Tok watching all kind of nonsense. Two hours passed by… WTF? Now it’s time to get serious and go back to work. How can we drag ourselves to sit in the chair and actually commit to work?

Maybe you were planning to hit the gym early morning, or go for a jog around the corner. All those great plans seem quite far away from how you feel now. You start seeing the image of yourself actually hitting the gym more distant and your imagery starts to get more vivid on the thoughts of turning on the TV, watch Netflix and eat nachos. 

Yes, I have been there. Many times. More than I would like to admit. 

But I also know that if I follow the second plan (TV with Nachos) it will make me feel much worse later in the day. I call it “The hangover of procrastination”.

The feeling of unsatisfaction for not doing what we were supposed to do is as bad as the hangover feeling after drinking 8 shots of cheap tequila. It is unbearable. But we are smart people, so we have found mechanisms to go around the hangover of procrastination… with…more of it.

Typical example: You promise to yourself the night before that you will go jogging tomorrow morning. Then you wake up the next day and it’s raining outside. Then you say to yourself: “Oh no, it’s raining. I cannot go jogging because I will get wet and then I will get sick. Better tomorrow if the sun is shining”. And if tomorrow rains again? You know what will happen next.

The same with going back to work on your project. In a good “sunny day”, when you are in good mood, well rested, and well fed, then you are eager to work on it and even strive at it. But what happens in a grey day, when nothing seems to have a meaning?

I think that what differentiate the ordinary people from the extraordinary one, is precisely  those people who show up with their responsibilities, no matter what; in the rain, in the snow, in sunny and grey days. Is the person that develops within him or herself the strength to overcome their feelings, pains and other obstacles and keep showing up every day.

So, to the question of what to do to keep going when you lack motivation, the answer is simple:

Do whatever you were planning to do. Show up. And do a double effort to strive, despite your down feeling.

You will realize that while doing it, the feeling of uneasiness and low energy disappears. You don’t give it any importance anymore, so you start to focus all your energy in the task at hand. 

Believe me, it works wonders.

If I feel like not wanting to write, I just go and sit and write. And as I start writing and I let myself go on the act, I lose the sense of time. My body and mind are focused on the task so I have no time to think that I am unmotivated. This is how you get to finish any work that is of value. Working constantly, diligently, daily, with no big interruptions. 

If everybody would just work when the time is right, the sun is shining and we feel at our top capacity, then probably we would still be living in caves hunting rabbits and making fire with two small wood sticks. 

The key is the following: The more unmotivated you feel, the more you have to go and do it.

Like David Goggins rightly says in his book “Can´t Hurt Me”: “The reason it’s important to push hardest when you want to quit the most is because it helps you callous your mind. It’s the same reason why you have to do your best work when you are the least motivated”.

So, if you were waiting for some divine sign that gives you the immediate motivation burst, then take this: Go back to work!

How to Deal with Writer’s Block?

One of the scariest things about writing is when you sit in front of a blank page and you feel paralyzed. What am I supposed to write?

I stare at the blank page in front of my screen for a while. Isn’t it ironic, that when I am doing other things, like cleaning, cooking, or working in another thing, I get hundreds of ideas in my mind about what to write, but when it comes to the time to actually sit and write them, all those great ideas vanish away and leave me empty and hopeless?

I bet you have been in a similar situation. It’s frustrating, isn´t it? Seems like to experience this situation is a perpetual life sentence for a writer.

However, not everything is lost! Overtime, I have learnt to trick my blocked mind and actually get my writing done. 

Here are a few things that have helped me a lot. I hope they can help you too!

1.     Start to write a journal

When I need new ideas, or I don´t know how to continue in the middle of a writing project, I use the old method of the diary. I basically start to write everything that happened to me during the day. I sometimes even start by writing something like: “Dear, journal, I have no clue what I want to write”. It seems like after I wrote those words, they left my mind, so I get “free space” for new ideas to emerge and they manifest in my diary. Then I just keep writing until I feel better. Guaranteed, something of what you wrote will be the seed of the new idea you just needed to keep going with your writing project or to start a new one.

2.     Record your ideas the moment they come

If you are washing the dishes and suddenly a brilliant idea comes to you, go get your mobile and get it recorded! Try the voice memo app and get all your ideas recorded when they come to you! Later you can use a speech to text app to get them transcribed. In the beginning, I was reluctant to implement this idea. I preferred the old-fashioned way: A proper writer has to always write, right? So I was carrying a piece of paper and a pen “just in case” something comes up and I can write it. In a perfect world that would work, but not when you are a mama of two small kids and you need to clean a table surface full of spaghetti sauce with one hand while doing acrobatic movements to feed your little one, which refuses to eat, with the other. In a matter of seconds, I can go grab my phone, push a button and start talking.

3.     Just sit and observe. Then write what you observe

Sounds maybe a bit stupid, but it works. Just sit in front of the computer and if nothing comes, just start writing what you see. Maybe you have a nice painting in the front wall with a beautiful landscape; or if you look outside the window, you can see your neighbor taking out the trash, or going for a walk with the dog. Observe everything you see and start writing about it. Believe it or not, this practice has given me a lot of ideas in my writing process! At least, it helps you get rid of the “freeze” and you start to get more relaxed while writing. Your Muse likes to come and assist you precisely in those moments when you are more relaxed and at ease. This is the best time for her (or him) to whisper to your ear what he or she wishes to see!

4.     Take long walks in silence

This is one of my favorite tactics. If I just cannot get anything out of my head to write one single sentence, I leave it. I take a break and go for a walk outside. I love to walk in the forest or in a place where there is plenty of nature, if possible. Just to contemplate the beautiful oak trees, the shiny little buttercup flowers that emerge from the ground in spring time; the amazing shapes that the different sizes of the tree branches leave in the sky when you look upwards towards the light… for sure something you observe or experience in your walks will give you an inspiration to write about. Do not forget to take a voice memo device or a little notebook and pen with you!

5.     Take a nap

This is an old-known tactic, especially for artists, or people with highly intellectual jobs. Einstein, Edison and Newton were regular practitioners of this simple but highly efficient act. If you feel like you cannot spend a second more in front of the computer, or at the job at hand, just leave it for a moment and take a nap. A power nap of 20 minutes would be sufficient. Then you give time to your subconscious to keep working on the idea, while your conscious is asleep. If something makes “click” you will dream about it, or at last, when you wake up refreshed and ready, it will flow through you while you write. If it helped the greatest minds of the world, why wouldn’t it help you? It has certainly helped me. Try it out!

There are obviously many more things you can do to overcome the writer’s block, but those five I just shared with you are the most powerful ones I know.  If you have more tips and tricks, please do share them with me in the comment section below! I would love to hear about your ideas 🙂

In the meantime, happy writing!

Why I Started Writing? (And Never Plan to Stop)

I started writing when I was seven years old. I still remember when my parents took me to the supermarket to do the weekly shopping, how fascinated I was by the office supplies section: Full of colorful notebooks and pens from all sizes and textures. Still today, I can spend hours just checking out agendas, notebooks, books, pencils, colorful pens, pencases and everything that reminds me of writing.

Why exactly I got the idea to start writing my memoirs as a young girl I am not really certain. It all simply started as a need for expression; as if I wanted to scream to the world what is on my mind; what are my thoughts and my observations about life; but I was too shy just to say it to somebody. A good solution was to simply write it down as a diary.

Writing is therapeutic. It has helped me to organize my mind and try to find internal coherence in a world that seemed too chaotic to make sense of. 

It has also helped me to feel good on those days when everything seemed to go wrong. Just writing the things down, already had a much calmer influence on me than if I just leave the war of feelings and thoughts clouding on my mind in mysterious ways to the point that it drove me crazy.

From my childhood years until recently I had the habit to write by hand on notebooks; the classic way. It was only when my life started to get too packed with other responsibilities a.k.a. kids, husband, job demands…that I changed to the digital version to keep writing my memoirs. I miss those times where I just needed a pen and a notebook to escape the mad world we are living and go into a more fun, rich and inner world where anything is possible.

When someone asked me why I spent so much time writing instead of using that time for other things “in the real world”, I often thought:  Why to confine myself to the miseries of the present state of things when I can create my own, richer, more exciting and colorful world in my mind by writing? I might not be able to change the burdens of daily life; but I could certainly put many colors on it in my own mind.

If you are also a writer, you might also agree that there is no straight forward answer on why you decided to write; You can’t simply do otherwise. You cannot just stop writing. 

It never occurred to me to do it as a profession. Writing was so intimate for me that doing it for profit felt somehow wrong. With the passing years I have been changing my perspective towards writing for a living. The expressed word done in a brilliant way can enrich our lives in so many ways. Writing is actually a very noble profession and as ancient as the development of human language.

What about you, why do you write?

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou