I Don’t Wanna

First, announcements, then the meat of the post, then Damiversary giveaways. That is the order in which things will occur this Friday. I declare it. Hey, the Muse is just sitting there filing her nails, so I’ve got to be a petty dictator where I can.

Announcements! You can find a taste of my short story Best Friends over at FlamesRising! The story is in The Girl’s Guide To Guns & Monsters anthology, available just around the corner in February. Also, you can find a short preview of my essay Ambiguous Anita for the absolutely fabulous Ardeur: 14 Writers on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, which will be coming out in April. It was a pleasure to be included in both.

I still have other good news that I’m having to sit on. It KILLS me. But them’s the breaks.

And now, the meat of the post…well, don’t take this the wrong way. But I don’t wanna.

Seriously. I started out yesterday with a huge honking attack of the I don’t wannas. It’s only gotten worse today.

Any disciplined activity you put serious time and energy into–dieting, writing, dance practice–goes through periods where it temporarily gets harder to do. The reasons can be manifold: stress, life changes, boredom, the urge to rest for a bit, what-have-you. It goes in cycles, especially when you hit a plateau right before a leap forward.
I write a lot here about discipline and habit. Think of them as bowling bumpers, keeping your ball in the lane. During good times, when you’re excited and happy to be writing, the discipline is easy to maintain. Your motivation’s high. But there will come times when you just don’t want to, for a variety of reasons. It will get harder to keep a consistent schedule and keep writing a priority. Just like it gets harder to stick to calorie restriction or dance practice when your motivation goes down and a stack of Netflix DVDs plus a box of Entenmann’s are calling your name. (OK, I could be projecting here. Just a touch. But you still get the idea.)

I bump up against the hard edges of the habit of spending several years writing damn near every day occasionally, when the I don’t wannas attack. Sometimes I do slow down a bit and take a rest. It’s hard to differentiate between loss of motivation, just plain laziness, and approaching burnout. I’ve evolved a few questions that I ask myself and a process to tell if it’s burnout, but I sincerely doubt my methods will work for anyone other than me. Part of the difficulty of consistent creative activity is that it is so personal, and the methods of motivation and differentiating burnout from laziness differ from person to person.

Yes, I have trouble motivating myself sometimes. The advice I give is partly because I struggle to keep that consistent discipline and practice. Maybe for some people, it’s easier. I don’t know. The important thing is to keep the habit of discipline strong, so that when the I don’t wannas attack, you have nice strong bumpers keeping your ball in the lane and a fighting chance of getting to the pins.

My motivation to write is pretty simple: I have rent to pay and kids to feed. And yet, still, some days I struggle. It might be worse for people who aren’t depending on their writing to bring home the rent. I suspect it is.

No matter how hard I don’t wanna, I’m still in the habit of doing it every day. So I suppose I’ll just poke at a few things and see what happens.

And now, the giveaway! To celebrate the Damiversary, this time I’m offering 2 T-shirts from my CafePress store. (I really need to get some more designs up…) All you have to do is comment here at the Deadline Dames by midnight Saturday (the 30th).[1] If you can’t think of anything to say, tell me what you do to get going when your own motivation suffers. I’m always looking for more techniques to steal, ahem, I mean, good advice to follow. I’ll pick the winners from Random.org, and the Dames will announce them next week along with this week’s winners.

Speaking of which, we still haven’t heard from some of last week’s Damiversary winners! Make sure to go and see if you won something, and look for other cool prizes that were announced earlier this week as well.

Vive les Dames!

[1]Comments are closed on this post just to make everything fair.

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