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Self-Motivation Addicition

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So, since I quit WOW there’s a sense of looming time to the world, like an hourglass is slowly spilling my life away. In a positive way, of course. I don’t know if it’s a late-20’s thing, but a realization of inevitable death is quite motivating. πŸ˜€ So, what has this spurred me to do?

Make to-do lists.

Yes, I’m an EXPERT at organizing myself to GET READY to do something. I subscribe to all the gem-like sites whose purpose is to keep me in a state of constant self-organization:

Life Hacker

Life HACK

Zen Habits

Real Simple (for the day I will actually cook things rather than clip recipes to GET READY to cook)

And about 50 more under my Google Reader feed category: OrganizeLazyAss!

There’s NOTHING better than finding a new way to organize my files, or browsing a “500 ways to motivate yourself” list, or downloading a new app every day to make to-do lists with. Last month I found myself buying a 65 dollar paper cutter and making a Hipster PDA. I spent about 4 hours setting it up and hand cutting about 50 pieces of card stock into quarters before I though, “WTF AM I DOING?!”

I realize now that, for a time earlier this year, I was addicted to motivating myself. There’s nothing better than that high you get when you make a new, clear plan about taking charge of your life, and plan to head out in a new direction. It’s addictive enough that just moving from self-start idea to self-start idea is enough: The hard work of actually ACCOMPLISHING those goals is a total drag. Why bother when there’s a new person telling you how much potential you have right around the corner? Why do work when you can feel good about yourself for the decision to get ready to begin doing something? Ugh, that sentence was confusing but if you read it a few times it makes sense. πŸ˜€
At any rate, a few sites/books I’ve read have actually helped me and made me ACT on all this organizing (sometimes) and I thought that I’d share them.

http://www.profitwar.com/16-rules.htm

For some reason the clear, simple wording of this site really gets to me, and it boils everything down to self-responsibility rather than the ethereal universe giving you whatever you desire (Yes, “The Secret”, I’m talking to you πŸ˜€ ) I’m a big fan of ruthless self-starting. I realized one day that I needed to be my own parent when it came to scheduling and doing things that weren’t necessarily fun, and things started to become more of a habit for me.

And a thread started by Paul under my Ultima poem post made me want to post about this book.

If You Want to Write

This book is truly inspiring. It was written in 1938, and the writing is so clear and so wonderful, it makes you want to pick up a pen and write a novel immediately. It makes you feel like, just possessing this book, gives you the strength to try anything, and fail at anything as long as you’re being true to your soul.

The first chapter’s name is: “Everybody is Talented, Original and Has Something Important to Say.” Ok, your hokey meter is on high alert, I know. But this woman made it a mission while writing this book that everyone would find their inner passion and show it to the world. And through her words she does. I found myself highlighting ever other line sometimes, because her words strike you in a way everyone wishes their mother had talked to them as a kid.Β  If you ever had a passion you were afraid of following, or find you can’t get started, not only writing but anything creative, I really urge you to read this book. You will realize that it is almost your obligation to show the world that you are unique and have something to say. I mean, why else are there so many kinds of people on the planet but to celebrate our differences? πŸ™‚

  • the dood

    Felicia, I think you would enjoy reading Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. Inspiring stuff from a great writer. His advice on following your muse, no matter who disapproves, begins with this sentence: “I learned that I was right and everyone else was wrong when I was nine.” Ray is one of my heroes.

  • Thanks for the tip, I will plop that in my Amazon cart!
    It’s always nice to read a book by someone who is really accomplished in their field and takes the time to encourage people just starting.

  • Felicia, I read that book in one of my first writing classes ever. It was a “Women’s Fiction Writing Workshop” at the MD Institute College of Art. I know, I’m not a woman and I wasn’t back then either, but the course had low enrollment so I felt pretty accepted. We read only material by women, and read works on writing by several female writers. Brenda Ueland was one of them. I don’t remember connecting with it overly, but it was memorable and there at the early stages of my writing life – and I’m still writing now, twenty years later!

    Have you tried Steven Pressfield’s THE WAR OF ART? It’s quite good. It’s not about writing military fiction – which Pressfield is famous for – but it is about battling against the natural resistance that we produce (or allow) and that stops us from doing the things we most want to, including write. It’s a slim book, but there’s some wisdom in it.

    Okay, I’m gonna go write… (Work-write, that is.)

  • Samantha

    I’m with you, Felicia. I’m all about making lists, and not so much about doing what’s on the lists. There’s a program called FlyLady that I found online, which is mostly about cleaning your house using a 28-day program. I didn’t do the program, of course, but I did read through it, and once I was done reading I felt very accomplished. Which might be kind of a little sad.

  • Ben

    I love it when I am blind-sided into taking stock of personal goals and subsequently reminded of how I’ve let so many just fade into obscurity. (Is there such a thing as a sarcasm font?) I guess that opening sentence pretty much strips me of any credibility on the topic. (But isn’t that what the internet is all about? Non-credible sources pontificating about things they wish they knew…and of course, Britney Spears’ boobs)

    Brit’s boobs aside, one of my favorite profound observations on the subject of motivation and accomplishing goals is something my father used to say and it pretty much applies to most everything in life, β€œThe thing you should do next is the thing that you least want to do.”

    BTW, thank you for posting the 16 rules to live by. I printed it and handed it out to a few co-workers.

  • David, I’ve seen that book and wanted to buy it! Now it’s in my cart because of you πŸ™‚ Anyone else going to their Amazon cart to buy any of these books, be sure to buy David’s book “Acacia.” It’s a great new fantasy series, I blogged about it last month.

    And that Fly-lady site I’ve surfed to SO MANY TIMES. I think the layout repulses me a little, so I can never keep on track with it, but I have started cleaning my sink a few times (it’s lesson #1 there πŸ™‚ )
    I’m glad you liked that 16 rules Ben, whenever I get discouraged I read them and realize, wow, life shouldn’t be handed to me and I’m not a failure if things don’t come easy. Quite the opposite.

  • Thanks for a great post, Felicia! I’ve also added to my cart most of the mentioned books.

    I’m currently reading and greatly enjoying the “On Writing” by Stephen King, it’s thrilling to read how someone truly great came to realizing itself and becoming a master of writing art.

  • I have Stephen King’s book and yes, it’s really amazing. I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King. I’m REALLY succeptable to scary movies/novels and I get hefty nightmares, so I kind of avoid horror stuff. The Dark Tower Series has always been on my To-Read list though. I’m almost ashamed to admit I haven’t read them, maybe it’s like me and Tolkien, hard to pick up and start because I’m so behind the curve, but once I break down and start I won’t be able to stop.

  • Funny you should say it, Felicia!

    I’m exactly the same – haven’t read a lot of King’s masterpieces, but did see enough to realise how good he is.

    After reading this book of his, I’ll definitely get a few of his fiction books as I’m sure I’ll be looking at them from a different angle now.

  • I’ll jump into this one. If you are going to write, I’d suggest a screenplay. The book market in the US is more supersaturated than most people guess, with about 100,000 or so manuscripts written every year and only about 2,000 going to traditional publication.

    Further, the advance has truly fallen off. From what I read, Stephen King was advanced about $400,000.00 for his first novel, that was a few decades ago and the money was worth more then. These days the adverage advance is only about ten grand. One of the reasons this is important is that as the author you are expected to sell your book and this is your war fund.

    Also, keep in mind, unlike the sell and go approach of a screenplay, you are expected to sell your own novels forever. It’s something to become a brand name and even though everyone hopes to become supersuccessful, few actually do. That’s why so many books go out of print so quickly.

    I don’t want to discourage anyone from writing novels, I’d just like to pass on the part you won’t hear until you are in the agent process. If it really is a goal of your to see your name in print, do it. There are few joys like putting your own book on a shelf. If you have a story and you are more mutable on the delivery, I’d suggest the screenplay format instead.

    For example, the guy who wrote Scream sold his first screenplay for $500,00.00 and then was completely free to move onto his next project. He also had the joy of knowing his idea would go onto development in something he could watch almost automatically. Few bookshelf authors have that level of response.

  • Mark

    Ah, the age old issue of addictive personalities moving from fix to fix πŸ™‚

    I tend to go through phases of new ideas and novelties that drag my attention around. Things I can think of (from the top of my head in recent years):

    Games (Counter-Strike, Oblivion, Wow), Writing, Politics, Personality Tests, Facebook, IT and Computer Networks, Yoga, Tai’Chi, Japanese and Korean Films, Housing Market, Where sells the best cocktails in London, My cats, Management Books, Self help books, Sci-fi Books, Journalism, Development and the 3rd World, Economics and Finance, and erm… the list goes on.

    I think those of us who were perhaps a little nerdy at school just express themselves in different ways but with the same committment and attention to detail as we get older.

    Still I guess the most important thing is doing what makes you happy in the short term but also in the long run! Sitting down with motivational books to work out those what those objectives are and/or how to get there is never a bad thing.

    But, in the words of one of the greatest social commentators of the modern day:

    “life moves pretty fast, if you dont stop and look around every once in a while you could miss it.”

    (Ferris Bueller)

  • I’d back that up Mark. Addiction has a bad way of being mistaken label for goal driven or having an good attention span. Remember normalacy is having a 15 minute attention span, if one defines crazy as being abnormal, most gamers are crazy.

    Some people need things to keep their mind going. They need ways to focus that brain power and do something fun and productive. They don’t want to rot watching Wheel of Fortune reruns.

    Neurobiology tends to agree that if you don’t use you mind, you lose it. Studies researching groups that have resisted alzheimer’s disease have suggested the same. As have the memories of anyone trying to remember third period Spanish from high school, after a decade or two of not using it.

    Carpe Diem, seize the day. Find something you enjoy and do it. Just make sure to schuedule in time to smell the roses. You only get one ride on this thing called life, be like Ferris and make the most of it. =)

  • Mike, I totally understand your thoughts about books vs. screenplays, but as a process, if you are wanting to be treated with respect, I wouldn’t immediately suggest screenwriter over novelist πŸ™‚ Screenwriters are very low on the totem pole in Hollywood, especially in movies. A script is seen as a malleable document, that people feel free to “dip their fingers in” so to speak. Everyone has an idea to make your screenplay better,especially people who have never written one. I know a lot of writers in LA so I sympathize with them. πŸ™‚ I think the odds of getting a movie from a script actually MADE have to be as low as getting a novel published. However, you’re right, if you are successful in selling it, you will make more money on average. Like everything in Hollywod, it’s like winning the lottery.

    I, personally, always need something new to keep my outlook on life fresh. My challenge is creating good habits and not flit from subject to subject. That’s where my motivational book/internet app obsession comes in handy every 3 or 4 months. I start to lose my daily routine and have to sit down, take a big breath, and reprioritize. I guess we aren’t really meant to think in long-term chunks, but those times when we can make ourselves, that’s when we see the best rewards.

  • doctor Ferris

    I have a poor record with motivational books. I bought “How to develop a super power memory” but I forgot where I left it. My worst was a home study writers course. After my first piece I received a glowing report about how brilliant I was and I thought, okay, I don’t need to do the course then. I had a book on writing the perfect screenplay and when I checked on the author he had never written a screen play in his life just lots of books on how to do the perfect this, that or the other. Mind you,the how to make an omelette book had a killer ending. I cried when they broke the poor eggs, and the chapter on how they were beaten when they were less than a month old, it was too much, I had to put the book down and watch Rambo to get my faith in humanity back.
    If you want to write. Write. You won’t learn much about writing from reading a “how to” book. To write horror, read horror. To write SF, read SF. Then bin the lot of them and try and come up with something that you have not just read about. Do it for your own amusement, it will never make you rich or famous but it is a lot of fun. P.S. I have just finished “The Stand” by Steven King. I’m thinking he could have written the bible, its so long, but they chopped his name out because he’s an athiest. I’m on Wilbur Smith, “River God” now, its awful. PPS. I used to be a motivational speaker but I could’nt be bothered to turn up for my lectures.

  • Courtney

    Cannot agree more. Do what you love. If you’re doing it to get rich, then when you’re leaving yourself open to disappointment. If you do something you want to be doing, even if you don’t turn a profit, it still beats working in a cubicle. W

    /I say from my cubicle…
    //but I really love my job, so it’s all good πŸ™‚

  • I see your point Felicia. For the record, my novel sold in North America, South America, and Europe. To the publication industry, I’m still pond scum. =(

    I think the creative process, be it: painting, dancing, acting, writing, or whatever tends to be pretty cruel as an industry. In many ways, they can tend to be extremely competitive fields with more people trying to do them than will be successful at them. Every artistic trade I’ve been exposed too, seems to have its own rough quirks and my hat is off too anyone doing anything creative as a full time job. That goes for you too, Felicia.

    As for writing, most of the authors I’ve known had a bug to tell a story. They were possessed with doing whatever they could to flesh that out and tell it. My problem with doing this for print is that you can be held hostage, for years, selling the idea you exorcised from yourself, and in truth, you are normally trying to move on to the next story.

    I like the idea of screenwriting at this point since it is more a drop and go process. It allows writers to move to the next process and stay in the flow of creating. It allows them to continue sharpening their craft, more easily than the traditional book market does. If you ever fell in love with a book and wondered why there is only one book the author ever did, it is normally the process of selling the book that burns the author out, not the process of writing it.

    Also, don’t think for a second, novelists don’t get edited as well. The average book is rewritten at least 8 times. As you have probably read, you can send any masterpiece up through the business. If the reviewer doesn’t recognize it, they won’t pick it up if it isn’t what they are looking for, for that quarter. Stephen King did a self test with the modern industry under a surname recently. He wasn’t picked up as anyone without his name.

    So if any of you are going to do novels, especially fiction novels, be prepared to have thick skin. Be prepared for rejection and give it your best shot. Most importantly, don’t give up in chapter 7. The best thing I ever heard for advice again came from a radio interview with Stephen King, was don’t get bogged down in your own perfectionism. Write your story and clean it up. There will always be something you think you can do better with it.

    Whatever you decide: Carpe Diem.

  • Courtney

    Oh.. for those wanting to get into screenwriting, check out season 2 of Project Greenlight. They had a writer getting pulled every which way, having to respond to notes from a pressing producer, two green directors who wanted to do the writing themselves (and rewrote scenes without saying anything to her), and of course, the studio. Makes me really not want to do any screenwriting unless I’m gonna be shooting it myself.

    Also, if you want a quick, funny story about trying to sell a script to studios, check out Fortune and Glory by Brian Bendis. He tries to sell off the movie rights to a crime graphic novel he did and hilarity ensues, all based on his true story. This is also a graphic novel, so you’ll probably find it in that section.

  • Oh, thanks for sharing your perspective Mike, it was very enlightening. I guess I’m naive about the book trade and jaded about the movie business, lol. By all means I think screenwriting can be a fulfilling craft and if you pursue it with the same expectation you have of the book industry you might be pleasantly surprised, one never knows!
    I was reminded today by a friend who is also an aspiring screenwriter who said she just realized her last several projects were written for the eye to sell, and no eye for what she wanted to say. It’s hard to balance pleasing the commercial arm and making something that’s part of yourself. I guess it’s a function of constantly reminding yourself “I’m in this trade to have a voice, damnit!” πŸ˜€

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