03 September 2010

I don't need no stinkin' motivation!

That's a total lie, actually - or rather, take the double negative literally. I am possibly the least internally motivated person on the planet. However, when I have someone else depending on me to do a task, be somewhere, or generally follow through on something, it happens. This is because I have an absolute horror of letting people down. There are few things quite as soul-destroying as having someone whose opinion you value look at you with that disappointed face on - you know the one. Ugh.

So what do I do to make sure things actually happen? Easy - get someone to expect them. This blog is a great example - I have six other people counting on me to get my act together on a regular basis and slap together a (mostly) readable post on a (more or less) designated topic. And it gets done, because I really, really, REALLY don't want to find out what a six-fold version of that look is like (even across cyberspace).

Another good trick is to do things so ridiculously far ahead of time that you haven't even begun to ponder the possibility of procrastinating them yet. Of course, this works best for those tasks which, once you have done them, stay done - things like knitting birthday or holiday presents or (ahem) writing blog posts, not things like scrubbing the bathroom or doing the laundry, since if you're far enough ahead not to procrastinate, then it'll all be dirty again by the time you need it clean.

One of the best writing ones, though, is a WriMo - it has clearly defined goals, a set time limit, and, if you join any of the communities centred around them, lots and lots of support. More importantly for lazybutts like me, though, is the big pile of people who will know if you fail. I don't do failure very well (possibly a consequence of not doing it enough as a kid), and as for the stubbornness factor, well, let's just say there's a reason that "stubborn" is one of the words in my (extremely limited) Portuguese vocabulary (no, I can't spell it; every time I learn how some Portuguese word I know is actually put down in letters my brain goes whirling like a flushed toilet). So while I sort of half-heartedly took a rebel run at NaNoWriMo last November, it was our very own BuNoWriMo that actually got me to finish something - ooooh, that was quite public, lots of opportunities for humiliation, which is no good at all, so to avoid the embarrassment, I simply made sure to complete the project. Problem solved.

Having now outed myself as a terminal slug/sloth/choose-favourite-lazy-animal, I suppose it's all the more remarkable that I'm in fields that require a high level of self-motivation - whether I'm banging away at the keyboard (or scribbling in the notebook, novelistically speaking), clicking away with the needles, or bashing my way through four centuries of viola music, it's pretty much all up to me what gets done and when. But by scheduling recitals, having deadlines for gifts, and getting these other Burrow-types to expect material from me on time, stuff gets done. I suppose that, like the title, this is kind of a negative-motivation idea - but you know, it works for me, so yay!

And this is a Kate shout-out for her birthday, even though she probably doesn't read this blog and is honeymooning in France at the moment to boot. So, you stinker, if you find it, happy birthday, and if you don't, everybody else can just wonder. :-)

Images: knowyourmeme.com


Theresa Milstein said...

I also worry about disappointing people. It's a big motivator!

But I haven't participated in NaNoWriMo because I think it's too much pressure to write that much in that period of time. The rough draft bug can hit at any time. It doesn't necessarily cooperate on the first of the month. But if I don't make some progress on my rough draft soon, I may need to sign up.

Jan Morrison said...

that is one of the main reasons I blog - to use it as a motivator! I did nanowrimo but man oh man - never again - oh, I can do it but I am already too disorganized a writer - I don't need the 'just write' part of me encouraged! I need the 'just revise' part of me to get to work! hey, that gives me an idea....hmmmm...nah, another diversion.
Jan Morrison

Natasha said...

And here I was admiring you no end, Leanne, because I CAN NEVER BE SELF EMPLOYED!

Natasha said...

And here I was admiring you no end, Leanne, because I CAN NEVER BE SELF EMPLOYED!

ViolaNut said...

Theresa - It's an excellent motivator, especially when all I want to do is hide under the covers! Not the most noble one, perhaps, but hey, like I said, it works. ;-)

Jan - WriMos do work for me, but not in November! Forget it, I'm an American (Thanksgiving!) and I work retail (HOW many shopping days left!?!), my student recital is in November - hell, I'm lucky I have any braincells left at ALL at the end of the day. You're dead right on the blogging though. :-) If you find a way to kick the rewrite into gear though, do let me know, 'cause I REALLY suck at that...

Rayna (it's really hard for me to call you that, y'know?) - I'm a good faker, ne?

Natasha said...

Leanne, go right ahead and call me Natasha. I just want this part of me to remain under the google radar so as long as you leave the surname out, I have no issues whatsoever.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I usually use NaNoWriMo to keep myself motivated for whatever WIP I'm working on...but I never officially participate. I just use it for the boost!

Cruella Collett said...

You said slug!

And you're no match for me when it comes to procrastination. Trust me.