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In this episode…
Let me ask you a simple question: Why do you write?
This question – so simple and unassuming and yet so profound – is the starting point for our conversation about motivation. We all have good days and bad days. I’m sure we have all experienced some high highs and some low lows. But some people seem to have a higher baseline level of motivation than others. Some people pretty much always seem excited about their work in progress. And other people – don’t.
If you’re looking to find your motivation, or for ways to have more good days than bad days, this episode is for you. We know a lot these days about the fundamental sources of motivation. And better yet, we know that motivation is not a fixed asset. Today I’ll talk about why we write, what motivates us, and how you can increase your motivation by redesigning your motivational ecosystem.
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Trevor Thrall 0:01
Welcome to the Get your writing done Podcast. I’m Trevor Thrall, author of the 12 week year for writers. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please submit a review wherever you get your podcasts that really helps. And for weekly updates on the podcast and other writing resources, you can subscribe to my newsletter at get your writing done.com. Let me start by asking you a simple question. Why do you write this question so simple and unassuming. And yet so profound? is the starting point for our conversation today about motivation. We all have good days and bad days, I’m sure we’ve all experienced some pretty high highs and some pretty low lows. But you know, some people seem to have a higher baseline level of motivation than others. Some people pretty much always seem excited about their work in progress, and other people don’t. If you’re looking to find your motivation, or for ways to have more good days and bad days, this episode is for you. We know a lot these days about the fundamental sources of motivation. And better yet, we know that motivation is not a fixed asset. Today, I’ll talk about why we write what motivates us, and how you can increase your motivation by redesigning your motivational ecosystem.
If you talk to a group of writers for more than a few minutes, it’s almost certain that someone will bring up the question of motivation. All of us suffer from low M. On occasion, we’ll have days where we just don’t have our mojo, maybe we’ll have weeks, or a semester, or a year where we don’t feel much motivation to write. I think it happens to everyone from time to time. But it’s also true, I think, and I most people who write can probably quickly think of the people like this, we can all think of people who seem to be more motivated that others on average, who produce more writing who seem to be more consistently, happily busy with their writing. And I don’t think there’s probably any one of us who writes who hasn’t asked ourself, you know, geez, what are they having, cuz I’d like to order some, because I would love to have that level of motivation, and maybe all the other things that come with the the results that that level of motivation has provided. So today’s episode is all about motivation, you know, what is it? Where does it come from? And most importantly, how can we tap into it so we can have more of it? So I guess the way I would like to start this is with another quick exercise. So once I sort of laid this out, stop the podcast, take a few minutes, maybe five minutes, and write out your answer to one simple question. Why do you write? That’s it? Just one question. All right, stop the podcast, write yourself a paragraph, take 510 minutes, whatever, maybe you’re having a coffee can take half an hour, but just write a paragraph or so all the reasons. Why do you write? Okay, now you’re back, you have a list. And if you are, like most people, maybe one of the following sorts of things might be on your list. You write because you have fun writing meaningful sentences on a piece of paper. Or maybe you have a creative drive, or you like feeling like a writer. Or maybe you are writing a book for the satisfaction of doing something hard. Or maybe you’re a writer because you enjoy the freedom, the autonomy that comes with the writing lifestyle. Maybe you write because it’s a way to make money. Maybe you write because you’d like being well known, or you’re seeking positive feedback from other people for your work, or maybe because you have work or school demands. And those demands are for you to write things. There’s a whole host of reasons of course, that people write. There can be short term motivations, there can be long term motivations, there can be project specific motivations, all kinds of motivations. But when we when we break it down,
commonly Of course, people will identify two broad types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. And you know, Quick recap, in case you’re not following the psychology literature, extrinsic motivations are motivations from external rewards or in some cases, punishments. You get money, that’s an extrinsic motivation, you get kudos, that’s an extrinsic motivation, you get fame or something like that, that comes from outside. Someone else, Pat’s, you on the back. Those are external motivators, on the other hand, are intrinsic or internal motivations. And those are things like your own sense of delight or satisfaction with doing something, your sense of identity, or some kind of drive, you know, from inside your person, that sort of gets tickled when you do a thing. And in our case, we’re talking, of course, about writing so. So if you look back at your list, one of the questions that you might ask yourself is, what’s the mix of internal and external factors in when you think about why do you write? Do you if you’ve had to circle sort of the one or two most important factors on the board? Are those intrinsic? Or are those extrinsic motivations? And I’m not here to judge. You know, that’s I’m not saying there’s a right kind of a motivation or a wrong kind of motivation. Certainly there have to be as many kind of motivation, fingerprints as there are writers. But it’s also true that, I think, as research shows, and I think most of us know, either, because we’ve sort of read enough Oprah Magazine, or taken a psychology class or to or read some of the popular nonfiction out there about these things. We probably all sort of sense what the research has pretty clearly shown that as a power source for your life, intrinsic motivation is superior to extrinsic motivation. Not that any of us ever do almost anything for only one kind of motivation, we get a basket of motivations, with everything I think. But in terms of sort of what the fundamentally most important drivers of human behavior are, what drivers are most consistent, most powerful, most reliable, most renewable, most, under our own control. Those things are intrinsic. And I won’t sort of go chapter and verse on the research but and you’ll see several times during this podcast that I’ve just consumed. Daniel Pink’s book drive, and which is all about motivation, of course. So I’ll summarize his summary of the research here just to say that the research shows that people who have intrinsic reasons for doing things tend in general to be more likely to find flow in their work more often, they’re more productive, they say get better grades, if they’re students, they apply for more patents, if they’re industrial scientists, engineers, they’re happier and have greater levels of life satisfaction, engagement, and so on, so forth. So in general, the research suggests that if we are looking for more motivation in our life, we should probably be looking at intrinsic motivation, as opposed to extrinsic motivation, right. In other words, writing for money or writing for kudos might sound good, they might look good, or might look good. When other people are getting those, we might say to ourselves, I want those two. But interestingly, it turns out that those kinds of carrots are not as motivating as internal carrots. And so
what, what Daniel Pink’s book, which is very excellent, I certainly recommend it to you, I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. But But Daniel Pink’s book is essentially about how you know most and it’s focused on the world of work and businesses. So we have to port it over to our needs here. But but his summary of his of the sort of emerging research, which to give it a name, is called self determination theory. And it’s a reversal of the standard vision of motivation as mostly about carrots and sticks. So why do people do things and the old view of things which paint calls motivation 2.0 You can understand people’s behavior by understanding what they get rewarded for and what they get punished for. And you know, the things you get rewarded for you do more of the things you get punished for you do less of. Well, that’s, you know, a very basic rational actor kind of approach to understanding people And it turns out to be mostly wrong not to dunk on my economist, brethren, but they understand all the unimportant things about how people behave. And psychologists, sociologists, and political scientists spend time on the other side of things where things are Messier. But I think, more important, okay, dunking session over. And the argument in the book is that motivation 3.0, the new understanding of motivation is, is that our own drives are more important than external motivations. And this research gets wrapped up in something called self determination theory that says, our motivations stem from our deep seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose. That sounds pretty good, it sounds very motivating, those are all great things. And, and the sort of the meat of the book and, and something I think worth sort of spelling out here. So we can start talking eventually, about how to raise our motivation levels. He talks about three, the three pillars of self determination theory, or, or if you want the sort of three sort of fundamental sources of intrinsic motivation. And those are our desire for autonomy, our desire for mastery, and our desire for purpose, all three of which were embedded, obviously, in the sentence I just read. And let me just, you know, briefly explain each of those. So when we talk later about how to strategies for building our motivation, those strategies kind of make sense, I’m going to ground them in these in these concepts. So autonomy, that’s pretty straightforward. I’m sure we can all think of times that exemplify this sort of rule. But you know, bottom line is, we tend to be much more motivated by our own interest in learning about the world in fixing things and figuring things out than we are if someone else tells us to do it. It turns out, if you try to pay someone to invent something, they’re going to do a much worse job than if you just set them free and say, Hey, take some time and see what you invent. Right? When you do things on your own, your motivation level is, is on average, just higher. And you know, I can really resonate with that part of the book, because, you know, when I think back to my own school experience, and writing in particular, you know, did you ever have fun writing a paper for junior high or high school? I didn’t. And And why was that? Well, one good argument would be that it violated my autonomy pretty seriously. I had to go to school, which I didn’t like, I had to sit in classes, which I didn’t like. And they made us do assignments, which nobody wanted to do. And on top of that, they didn’t give you any room for sort of writing your own stuff, you had to write on the exact book on the same topic in roughly the same kind of a way. I never had very much fun writing those things. I was very unmotivated by those things. I school generally, but I’m thinking about the writing particular, I didn’t have much fun writing that stuff. And that persisted through, I would say most of college. In college, there were occasional opportunities to write things for extra credit, where they sort of just let you roam, I had more fun writing those sorts of things, then you get to graduate school. And you know, you’re under the gun, and you’re still again, sometimes taping taking courses that maybe aren’t all up your alley. So maybe they’re not that much fun, all the papers, but but over graduate school, slowly, slowly, your autonomy arises, it’s up to you what to write about, it’s up to you how to write it, it’s up to you to figure out what to read,
and so on. And then once you’re finally done with exams, and it’s your dissertation, now, it’s all you, nobody cares what you write about. Nobody cares how you do it. It has to be a certain quality level. But this is your project finally, and boy, my autonomy levels shot through the roof at that point, which of course was terrifying. But it was intoxicating, at the same time. And I think, you know, compared to all other writing that had been sort of pushed down from above, you know, my motivation level to finish my dissertation was certainly much higher. My interest level, my sort of day to day, enthusiasm about getting that stuff written was much, much higher than ever had been for something somebody assigned to me. And so, you know, in your own life, I’m sure you can probably, you know, make that kind of comparison, compare something that somebody made you write in a certain way, certain dictates parameters, deadlines, timelines, whatever and then compared to something where you had full rein to do whatever it was you wanted however you wanted, really not much comparison there. So So autonomy is. So being able to be autonomous, is to be able to tap into your core motivations, maybe your essential motivations, whatever those might be. So being an autonomous actor is key. The second pillar of self determination theory is mastery, this idea that I’m going to share a great quote from wh Auden in the newsletter about this, but in this chapter pink sort of borrows heavily from the concept of flow. And that is, you know, this discovery that and I won’t pretend to pronounce the guy’s name me, Haley, Chick sent my healing what that died, I tried, I failed. But anyways, this idea that flow that, that trance that sort of, you know, losing time that feeling completely engaged. And, and just, you know, incredibly, you know, for, like revved up around some tasks that painters and writers and athletes get into when they’re in the middle of doing their thing. And, and you know, that being able to get into that flow is a source of motivation, where if you have a day where you are able to find flow, where where your life is set up, that flow happens regularly and easily, that’s a very motivating situation. Whereas if you are not allowed to do the things you’re good at, if you are frustrated from being able to get into flow, that’s, that’s a very demotivating situation. So that’s another good one where I think, you know, that’s pretty easy to see, you know, the application to my own life, I, I love nothing more than a afternoon without anything else in it, where I can sit down at my desk, and I will look up and it is time to go and I’m like, wait a minute, where the afternoon go, I have my books, I have my notes, I have my laptop, I no idea what just happened, except I got a ton of things done. But like I didn’t know where the time went. And, and so I think that notion of, of mastery, that when you win, what you need to do is match by your ability to do it. And, of course, as you as you practice, as you get into flow on a repeated basis, you get better at things and that feels awesome. And that in itself is also motivating. So this notion of of mastery, or competence, I think maybe even right is is a big one for motivation. If you’re continually asked to do things that you can’t do, that is demobilized. And then the last is purpose. And, you know, this one I’ve talked about, to some extent, in various episodes about vision and and I’m a huge believer in the importance of vision. And I think
that the research again, hear shows pretty clearly that people who have a sense of purpose, are happier and tend to be more happily productive than people who have non purposive goals. Instrumental only or, or extrinsic sort of monetary goals. We all have some monetary goals, don’t get me wrong. But those can only take you so far. And and in fact, there’s been interesting research that shows there was a study that pink sites done of graduating college students, and they took kind of a baseline, how you feel in life satisfaction, that sort of stuff. And then they asked these people, what are your main goals for the next few years? And some of them had sort of purpose goals, some of them had monetary goals, then they followed up a couple years later, how are you doing? Are you reaching your goals? And how are you feeling? And what was interesting is that the purpose goal, identifying students were happier. And, but what was fascinating is that even the students with monetary goals who had met their goals, not only Weren’t they happier, but they were actually less happy than they had been in college. And so it raises a really interesting question about the purpose motivation, which is you know, okay, purpose is motivating. But, but some things, even when we get them don’t turn out to be good for us, which is interesting, right? And I think that is, that’s a hard one because We are motivated by money, all of us are we have to be unless we’re independently, you know, wealthy or something. So you have to be motivated by money. But I think the the caveat or the red flag is, if you let money be your primary driver, if you if you let it be the primary source of your motivation, even when you get the money, it’s not going to do what you hoped it would do. And so I think that gives us some, some thoughts about how to go about designing our, our world, our, you know, our motivational sort of sources are our basket of motivations, that tells us something about how to organize and prioritize our motivations, I think that we should probably pay attention to. So autonomy, sort of doing your own thing, as opposed to doing things that other people are telling you in the way that you want to as opposed to how other people are telling you autonomy is a big one, this notion of mastery or competence, doing what you are good at, and getting into flow, being critical sources of motivation, mastery, or competence, and then purpose. So I think those are all pretty fundamental, I don’t think I would argue too much with those. But as I mentioned, pink is pretty heavily focused on selling books to the sort of corporate world and managers and leaders in that world. And so he doesn’t really, he’s not really speaking directly to writers, for sure, or creators in general. And for writers and creatives, I think you have to add in at least two things, maybe a few more, if I thought about it longer, I will do that. But for now, I want to just mention two. And the first is creativity, or creative spirit, creative juice, what it is. But I think many people who write are simply driven by a desire to create beautiful things, or to create meaningful things. You know, some people write stories, because they just have stories pouring out of them. I know people like this. I mean, I have, you know, I have a cousin who has been telling stories that all could have been published since he was a teen young teenager, I mean, just, you know, riding on a car trip and the dude spouts, you know, incredible stories. Those people, I think they just their motivation is incredibly intrinsic. And it’s, it’s just a sort of a need to tell stories. For people who are fiction writers, I think other people are driven to tell about, you know, report about the nature of the universe to other people, I think, you know, scientists, journalists, professors, many of these people are driven to write the words they do because they, they just feel a need for those things to exist. Right. And I don’t think you can capture those under the autonomy, mastery or, or purpose, right, I don’t think, I don’t think I mean, you can connect, creating beauty or creating, you know, good journalism, or to a higher purpose. Absolutely,
you can. But I don’t I sense for a lot of those folks, that’s not actually the primary motivation. That’s a nice add on. But the real reason they do it is because they can’t stop doing it. They love doing it, people who paint, I think a lot of times painters the same sort of thing. And then a second one I’d like to add to Pink’s list is identity. That is, I think that a lot of people who write really love the idea of being a writer, and being part of that tribe. And I do think that’s separate from those things. autonomy, mastery purpose, is different from the creative sort of thing. But it’s sort of, I think, we all have a need for belonging in various ways, of course, families, tribes, whatever regions, states countries, I mean, we all have different levels of, of need for those things. But I think all of us have some sort of tribal belonging needs. And I sense with a lot of people in writing and creating creative professions, that those identities are very important to them. Professors are really big into being professors, scientists, very big into being scientists and so on. And so I think one of the things that drives people to write is because that’s what people like me do. And I think it’s distinct from some of those other things. It’s also obviously an intrinsic motivation. And so I think that sort of deserves to be one of the one of the pillars, I guess, of, of, of the theory, at least, if we’re pointing it at writers in particular. So with this kind of framework in hand, right, that we are, we’re sort of thinking of our basket of, of motivating factors, the intrinsic ones, the extrinsic ones. We’re mindful that intrinsic motivations are probably the sturdier, the more renewable, the more reliable the more powerful motivators we we’ve talked about out some of the sort of fundamental sources of intrinsic motivation, tapping into our need for autonomy or desire for autonomy, our desire for competence and mastery, or desire to live with purpose, our own creative spirits, in our sense of identity, our desire to belong to different groups, right, so So with those things in hand, I think we’re almost ready now to start talking about ways to, to tap into your most powerful motivating factors. But But first, I want to add in one, one more concept, which is the motivational ecosystem that you live in. And what I mean by motivational ecosystem is that, you know, I mean, sort of the combination of different factors in your life, that promote and inhibit your motivation. And so I the way I’ve sort of currently got it designed in my head, is that your motivational ecosystem has five layers, I guess, we should just use a pyramid because the bottom layers fundamental, and then they kind of percolate upward. And the lower layers influence the ones above them. And so let me just describe what I mean by this. And I think you’ll be able to see pretty, pretty clearly what I’m talking about. So at the bottom of the pyramid, is what I would call your genetic motivation level. And, and the question you would ask yourself, and so okay, to go along with so while I’m describing the motivational ecosystem, you can ask yourself five questions. And, and give yourself a score on a on a zero to 10 scale. And that will be your current motivation level, right, measuring your motivational ecosystem, just today, we’re gonna see what we can do to to raise that number. Or maybe you’re gonna find out my gosh, it’s already very high, I don’t really need to worry about that. Okay. So the bottom layer is what I think of as your genetic motivation level. And the question you ask yourself here is something like, you know, what is your sort of, you know, how enthusiastic Are you in general about pursuing life endeavors? Right, I mean, some people are just busy, busy, busy, motivated people.
They’re always on fire. Right? I don’t they’re just born that way. I’m sorry, nothing we can do about it. Right? This is why this is one of those where, you know, it’s it’s luck of the draw. Right. But there’s no question. There’s no question that that layer influences that person’s ability to be motivated at any given moment. Right. So so that’s, we’ll start there. And then the second layer is, sort of I think of as your aspirational vision layer, or your purpose layer, maybe you might say, and the question you might ask yourself, regarding that layer is, how motivated are you to pursue your long term vision and goals? Or whatever those might be? All right. And then the third layer above that one, is what I think of as your current life or maybe, you know, life slash job circumstances. And the question here would be, how motivated are you to pursue your current path in life and work? And, you know, obviously, you know, so let me back up a second, right? On the vision thing, right, if you have a compelling vision, that is, you know, really exciting to you, you’re gonna be relatively more motivated, if you don’t have a vision, you’re probably not going to be so motivated. Right? And that’s a long term thing, right? That’s a, that’s kind of a core motivational, you know, input, or, or like a third rail, that if you, if you grab onto a powerful aspirational vision, it’s going to give you energy throughout all your projects throughout life, right. And then then moving up a level to your sort of current circumstances, right. I mean, your aspirational vision is for later, but you live today. And so we can also think of the factors of your daily life as promoting or inhibiting motivation. So So then the question, as I said, for that, one is, how motivated are you to pursue your current path. And, you know, if, if there’s a good fit for you, if you’re happy, you know, here is a good fit between, you know, where you want to go and where you’re heading right now, that’s probably motivating. If it’s a bad fit, if you’re not aligned with where you really want to go. If you’re trapped in a job you hate. If you’re trapped in a relationship that’s not working, those things are going to be demotivating. Then moving up to the fourth layer, and you’ll see that we’re getting from sort of long term to more specific and general to more and more specific as we go up the pyramid. And so the fourth layer is your current project. Is your current writing project? And the question to ask yourself here is, how motivated are you to work and finish this to work on finish this current work in progress. And, again, you know, you can think of a bunch of things that are probably promoting motivation in those if that project is aligned with your vision, if it’s aligned with your sort of goals, if it’s aligned with, you know, if it Stokes your sense of autonomy, if you being able to do it in autonomous fashion, if it’s something that you have the competence to do, and you’re able to get in flow. And if you feel like, you know, like, again, the purpose it aligns with your vision, and so on. Right, that’s probably motivating. And if it doesn’t have those things, on the other hand, probably, there’s could be things that are inhibiting. And then finally, right, and this is funny, because this is where I think we most often have the conversation about motivation. And that’s the daily level, which is how motivated are you feeling today? And there are so many different factors that influence the answer to that question. Right. So so one thing I, you know, said is that so, you know, we went from the bottom, which is the most fundamental and the harder to change things. And the more general and as we move up the pyramid, we got more specific. Easier to change in a sense, and, and more variable, also, right, your genetics aren’t going to change. Your aspirational, aspirational vision will change. Sometimes your current life and job circumstances will change from time to time, your current project will change quite often. And daily. Yep, changes every day. And so, you know, the number of different factors that might go into your day to day motivation level, you know, did you get any sleep? You know, did you have a fight with your spouse? Did you have enough coffee? Are you prepared to write today are you, you know, getting enough exercise you feel good about yourself, or you know, all those things,
those things go up and down, and up and down, up and down. But But in general, if you’ve got a clear and compelling vision, right, those things are just going to be kind of epiphenomenal, they’re gonna come and go, but they’re not gonna, they’re gonna influence you up and down from a pretty high baseline of motivation. But if you don’t have a strong vision, if you’re not happy in your life, then no matter how great the current project you have in front of you might be your motivation is going to be bouncing around from a relatively low baseline, because you haven’t got your motivational ecosystem in a in a healthy place. And so now let’s talk about strategies to tap into or build our motivation. And my general argument here is that what we’re trying to do is, is, you know, redesign or reshape our motivational ecosystem in order to create the conditions that will let you tap into your most essential and powerful motivating factors, while minimizing the influence of the factors that inhibit your motivation. Right, we’re trying to keep the highs high and keep the lows low. So but I think the reason I find the sort of the ecosystem model helpful, is because instead of just tried to come up with sort of a random bunch of thoughts about, hey, how do I need more motivation? Where do I get it? Right? I think, you know, and you’ll know, if you’ve listened to my podcast for a while, my very block and tackle person I like scaffolds, like recipes and formulas, because they help us think harder and deeper about our our problems we’re trying to solve. And in this case, I am convinced that a healthy sense of motivation is not should not be something that you are held captive by, did you have a good day or not? Right? If that’s if you had a bad day, everyone has a bad day, if you had 10 Bad days in a row, okay, that could happen once in a while. But if you had a bad month, if you had a bad semester, if you had a down year, it’s time to do an audit of your ecosystem, it’s time to ask yourself those five questions. And on any of those where you’re not a 789 or a 10. Or maybe, let’s say my anywhere south of an eight, you should be asking yourself, can I do something on this level of my ecosystem to help the promoters and to weaken the inhibitors? So let’s just for example, right and unless you can get a GNA DNA change, you can’t do anything about the bottom level, your genetic sort of baseline level, but it will actually say there’s one thing that occurs to me that you can do on that level as well. And that is to stop comparing yourself to the most crazy motivated people on the planet. When you know we watch TV we see these crazy great athletes, we see these incredibly talented or, you know, achieve achievement oriented celebrities and politicians and people who do business people who own 73 companies and have $10 billion. It doesn’t do you any good. It doesn’t motivate you to feel bad that you’re not as motivated as those folks, right? We are, we don’t get to choose the DNA we were dealt, all we can do is choose what to do with that DNA. So let’s all agree to compare ourselves to ourselves only. Okay, so that’s the one that’s a big strategy for that level. So don’t inhibit your motivation by imagining that you’re not good enough, step one. Or step two, aspirational vision, right. So you know, the simplest thing here, and I think the thing that many people will be able to do that will help a lot is simply to clarify their long term vision, I think that you get a huge boost to every day, if you know that where you’re headed is a happy, incredibly exciting place. If you know that the work you’re doing every day is slowly but surely, taking you where you want to go. Man, it’s hard not to giggle while you work, that’s gonna be so good for your motivation. So, you know, I have episodes on that. So I certainly encourage you to dive into those, you know, read Martha Beck, whatever you need to do, find yourself aspirational vision, that will act like a motivation, tractor beam, and, and your whole being will be motivated by this. Okay, so that’s sort of a piece right there. Current life and job circumstances level right? Now, if you have a great vision, but you’re trapped in a job that’s killing your spirit, then guess what?
You’ve identified a key D motivator, something’s got to change, right? If there are, if there are factors in your current job, and life that are destroying your sense of autonomy, that are preventing you from from using and practicing the things that you’re competent in love doing. If there are things that stifle your creative spirit, that don’t allow you to be identified, right to be the person you want to be, then man, you got to think hard about whether you need to make some changes. Right. And I’m not saying that getting more motivation is easy. I don’t think it is. Frankly, I think it can be hard. But I think the point here is that it doesn’t have to be overnight. Right? Motivation overhaul is a long term process, right? Building the vision that really fits, you can be time consuming could take a while you might not might not be clear to yet. Especially if you’re younger person, right? Especially if you’re a person a middle age hitting a crisis, where you don’t know what’s next. Right? You’ve run out us road, on the road you’re on, you’re like, Nope, that’s not getting me there anymore. I thought I had the answers. I’m really lost. It can take years. I’m not gonna lie, it can take years to find that. But it is so much worth it to do it. Right. It’s worth that work. And then, okay, current project right now we’re getting to things that are easier to change. But not just as critical to change, right? I mean, again, here, you know, I tell my students, every graduate student who comes to work with me, and they’re trying to figure out a project for their dissertation, the tendency that the very strong tendency for graduate students who have been socialized in a system that really rewards vary, obviously, the most famous heavily cited scholars working on the hot problems, and so on, so forth. And all the students want to work on one of those hot problems. The problem is, many of them are not interested intrinsically in those problems. They are interested because they think other people are interested. And so I tried to give them all the evil high. And I say, Look, do not write a dissertation because you think other people are interested in the topic. Don’t write it, because I’m interested in the topic. only write about it if you are interested in the topic, right. And if it’s not enough to keep you up at night, if it’s not enough to get you up in the morning, if it’s not enough to keep your butt in a chair in a library all by yourself all weekend. It is the wrong topic. Right? And so the same thing goes with folks who are writing fiction or you know, for whatever like, I you know, why are you writing this this work? Why are you writing in this genre? Right? If what you want to write is fantasy, don’t write romance because you think it sells better. Right? Don’t follow the money. Right? Don’t don’t, you know, we can use these notions of autonomy, mastery and purpose, right to help guide our redesign, right? If you are not very motivated by your current project, because it’s being dictated by someone else. See if you can negotiate more autonomy. If you’re having less fun, because you’re writing for money, in an area where you don’t feel any interesting love, stop, maybe you can’t afford to stop. But guess what, start looking for something that pays you to do something you’d like. Or, or maybe better yet, that pays you to do something for something that isn’t writing. So it doesn’t kill your writing spirit while you’re making money. Right? So, and again, I, I see this all the time in academia, people writing sequence, you know, sequels to things that were popular that they wrote, because they know it’s going to be an easy hit, kind of like Hollywood does, but something that they’re so bored with that they couldn’t even have one bit of interest in, you know, if they tried, they’re so unmotivated, right? When when you find that this thing’s been on your desk for six months, eight months, a year, two years, it’s time to cut that one off and say, You know what, I thought it was gonna write that, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’m gonna destroy my motivation, if I don’t work on something that intrinsically actually motivates me. It’s just sometimes it’s the price you got to pay and tossed out with the old in with the new. And then on the day to day basis, I think here’s the thing, if you take care of those first four layers, first, the three that you can really do something about in particular vision.
Designing, you’re shaping your life, and job circumstances, and picking projects that really tap into your intrinsic motivations, you’re going to have a lot less trouble day today, being motivated, those things are going to be strong, strong wind, at your back. And then the last piece the day the motivation, right, and you know, this is non trivial. So I’m just because you have that wind at your back, it’s still okay, it’s still hard to be motivated every day, especially if you’re hitting a hard spot in a manuscript. You know, you’ve been doing the same stuff for a while, whatever it might be. Right there. I think, you know, we can, we have to rely on other tools to help when the motivation flag sometimes we need to rely on our writing routines, because we’re not always motivated. But again, I think, in addition, I think our our bodies are part of our motivational ecosystem. I didn’t really have that on there, anywhere, but maybe it’s part genetic, right? Some people wake up in a good mood every day. Some people don’t. But I think you know, doing the things that help you be at your best, just in general, your happiest mood, your best mood, your most, you know, equanimity ball, mood, whatever those things are for you, for me, I have to get good sleep, I have to be exercising, I have to eat right. And I need my coffee in the morning. And then I’m ready to have a then I feel my motivation. I can tap into my motivation. If I’m, if I’m bleary if I if I didn’t eat right. If I don’t have a coffee, then I can’t find my mojo. Right. I remember remembering Diane Keaton, from Annie Hall. So what’s my motivation? You know, like, like, you know, I can’t find it sometimes if I’m not feeling right. So I’m a big believer in and sort of, you know, live the way that makes you feel, right. Because when you feel right, you can tap into those more fundamental layers of your motivation. Okay, covered a lot of ground. So we all want to be motivated. We all look around and see people who are motivated, go, Yep, that looks great. I want what they’ve got. And what they have probably is a powerful set of intrinsic motivated motivations. They have a motivational ecosystem that is well designed, that is sort of maximizing the impact of things that are promoting motivation. And they are minimizing the impact of things that inhibit motivation. And this ecosystem encompasses sort of our genetic kind of juice level. It includes our aspirational vision, that motivation that comes from long term purpose and vision. It includes our current life and job circumstances, which certainly can either promote or inhibit our, our sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose. It includes our current projects, which we can either be really excited about, or really not so excited about. And then of course, includes our daily sort of feelings about life in the work in front of us on the desk. So I encourage you to do an audit of your motivational ecosystem. I encourage you to email me at hello, I get your writing done, calm and tell me how this went and what strategies you’re taking to boost your motivation as a writer, and until next week, guys.