I was sitting at work the other day, having just come back from one of several “important” meetings during my planning time, lamenting my general loss of productivity of late. It’s been an adjustment, getting back into the school routine: waking up earlier to get in my runs and workouts, bundling the sprouts off to germcare (sorry, daycare), putting in my time at school, coming home exhausted but still having to cook dinner and wind the sprouts down for the evening, and finally collapsing in a boneless heap to hope that the kids sleep through the night (they’re both in a bit of a midnight waking sort of phase right now, which is a real bummer).
As a result, I’ve lost some momentum on my writing front. I’ve dropped from writing about 800 words a day on my current WIP to 600 or so, and I’m down from five postings a week here at the blarg to three or four if I’m lucky. Which is frustrating. Toward the end of the school year, I was priding myself on those statistics.
Then again, when I think back on it, my workouts were suffering during that time. I was gaining momentum in one area at the expense of the other.
And then further still, I think back to the beginning of summer, when the routine of the workday disappeared and I fell into a funk and wasn’t accomplishing my workouts or the writing I wanted to. I did some, sure, but I just felt so wiped, so burnt out, so unmotivated. Did I need a bit of time to recuperate from the end of the school year? Probably. Did it merit the amount of down time that I took? Meh… I have a hard time justifying that.
And then, my brain flashed back to my time in college. This is a thing I tend to try to stop my brain from doing, because the results are rarely good. I loved my college days, but man oh man were some poor decisions made. And needless to say, the brain doesn’t flash back to the good things when it senses I need a good kick in the arse. No, it flashed back to a stretch of about a year and a half where I did little more than sit in my room and play video games for hours and even days on end. I failed a class, something I’d never done in my life. My other grades tanked. I packed on about fifteen pounds. I turned into a big old jerk (well, even more than normal). Why? I just lost the drive. I felt worthless so I was worthless. And in the depths of that toxic fog, a good friend of mine (who was somehow still my friend despite all my atmospheric jerkitude) came to me with a bit of advice: “The more you do, the more you can do.”
I don’t know if she plagiarized that, and I don’t care. Because it’s true. The mind is a weird organ. It believes what it wants to believe, often contrary to the empirical evidence all around it. That little aphorism led me to get back into my classes and write the first drafts of the play that would grow into Accidentally Inspired, the work that in no small way set the course for the next chapters of my life, and is still setting the course for me.
The more you do, the more you can do.
You pick yourself up out of the funk and do something — anything — take a walk around the block, scribble a few bits of dialogue on the page, bang out a few push-ups, chase your kid around the room a few times — and there’s pushback, sure. Your negative momentum holds you in place. But your brain also says to itself, “hey, that wasn’t so bad, we can do that again.” And if you’re smart, you do, and you do a little more next time.
If the me who heard my friend drop that little truth-bomb on me back in college could see what I’m up to these days — even in my current, slightly diminished and frustrated state — he’d have a heart attack. Married, two kids, full-time job, coaching soccer after school, working out five or six times a week, writing novels and short stories like it’s my job, operating a website… The me of the past didn’t believe he could do all that, so of course, he couldn’t. But little by little, he started to believe. Little by little, momentum grew. Little by little, his mind changed.
Were there setbacks along the way? No doubt. The road is neither straight nor level. But by taking on a little more at a time, slowly upping the ante, slowly turning up the burners, I was able to trick myself into becoming moderately productive.
Which reminds me, it’s time to take the kids out on a walk, and then come back and write…
This weekly Re-Motivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every Saturday, I use LindaGHill‘s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.