How to Keep On Keepin’ On

I’ve been thinking about motivation lately. About how, even when we want to be writing, when we have a project we love, when we want to see that chapter or that draft or that book get done, we still might not be writing as much as we can.

Where does the motivation come from, I was thinking. And where, when it’s not there,  did it go?

And then today, at my day job, I was reading a study report about the maker movement and its place in education. (If that’s of interest to you, or you want more context for the small part I’m about to quote, the report is from Agency by Design at Project Zero, a research organization at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and you can find it here.)

Anyway, I’m reading along, and I get to this:

“…to be called a cyclist, you not only need to have the ability to ride a bicycle, but you have to be motivated to ride your bike on a regular basis, and you have to be alert to occasions to do so.” (Bold font, mine.)


And a bit more:

“…the biggest bottleneck to behavior isn’t a lack of motivation and skill, it’s a lack of sensitivity.” 


The article goes on to bring the metaphor back to students, and I went on to read more about them. But in that one instant, you just know that I completely replaced cyclist with writer. Oh, come on. So did you.

Maybe I haven’t been thinking about motivation. Maybe I have plenty of motivation. Maybe what I’ve been missing, especially, since–oh, I don’t know, early November?–is the awareness of opportunities to do the writing. Maybe I’ve even been helping to pull the cloud cover of fear and anger and worry over my awareness and blur the edges of whatever awareness I was managing.

You think?

It pretty much always comes back to mindfulness, doesn’t it?

I’ve done better this month than last, in terms of separating politics from life and compartmentalizing a little bit more. Not as well as I’d like, but better. And it’s something I think I’ll have to keep working on, because what’s going on in politics (and life) is important and–guess what–what’s going on in my (our) writing is important. And having a knock-down, drag-out fight between them in my brain is only going to make me tired.

And tired brains miss opportunities for writing. Or drawing. Or composing. Or any creative art.

I can do battle with a tired brain. But I can’t write with one–not fully or deeply like I need to be doing. Like any readers I might someday have need me to be doing.

Like your readers need you to be doing.

So back to the now, whenever we can. Back to the safe, quiet place where the monkey brain is tucked into a soft blanket and told, gently, to hush for a while. Just for a while, while we go bring ourselves to awareness, to seeing and seizing the opportunities.

Right? Right.

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