Why is it so difficult to keep oneself motivated, but so easy to simply give up?
I think it’s because we’re often wired to take the easier path. I get it. Obstacles can be difficult to overcome. It’s much less trouble to simply say, “the hell with it”, and move on to something else.
Now, it’s one thing to take a break from a creative project when you run into an issue. I’ve been stuck on stories and set them aside for a few days or months, then come back to them later with a fresh set of eyes and new ideas. Nothing wrong with that. But I find it sad when I hear someone say that they’ve run into a problem on their project, they’re frustrated, and they’re giving up on it.
I understand where they’re coming from. I’ve been there myself. It’s not always easy to keep your motivation up. Stubbornness helps, but that’s not in everyone’s nature.
So how do we deal with it? I think it’s a mind game we have to play with ourselves. What I do is distract myself with something else. For example, if I’m stuck on a story or feel I can’t write, then I work on some other creative project. I’ll practice guitar, look through my pantry to find something interesting to cook, maybe pull out my sketch pad and doodle for a bit. I also keep a couple of coloring books and colored pencils in a drawer on my coffee table to use when I feel frustrated.
What I find is that this distracts me from my frustrations. I can focus on coloring between the lines, or getting my finger-picking just right, or finding the right combination of seasoning for a big pot of chili. In the back of my mind I’m still thinking about that frustrating project, but in my conscious mind I’m doing something different, something fun. Plus, I’m still using my creativity.
I used to be the type of person who would give up at the first obstacle. You know, get to some part of a story I was writing, unsure of what to do next, then scrap it. I think that was the result of immaturity and inexperience. I finally learned that I don’t have to completely give up, I can simply move on to another project. And it works. There’s no reason for me to abandon something completely just because I run into a little difficulty.
Of course, it’s not an instant fix. I’ve set aside stories with the intent to return to them in a few days or weeks, but instead they sat for months, even years. But that’s okay. Whatever time it takes for me to get back to it is fine. The story will be told eventually.
It’s perfectly normal to get caught up inside our own heads, to lose perspective on something we’re trying to create. That’s just human nature. But you can work through it, or around it, or simply set it off to the side and come back to it later. The point is to never give up. Ever. Our stories, our thoughts, our ideas, our voices, they all deserve to be heard, read, seen. Don’t forget that.