WritetoDone, a wonderful blog about writing, has a guest article called What Lance Armstrong Can Teach Us About Motivation.
The writer talks about how having a near death experience as Armstrong did with his cancer can be motivating. He then suggests imagining you have only a year to live.
I’m sorry, but that simply doesn’t work for me. And yes, I’ve had a couple of near death experiences. One was a car accident (while taking my first column to a local newspaper if you want ironic) and one was a shipwreck and logic would say I should have died. And yes the grass looked greener, the sky brighter and I’ve been, sometimes, a happier person after those.
I simply can’t conjure up what I felt after both those experiences in any way that’s helpful in terms of getting myself to write or write more or write better or whatever.
Nor can I pretend to believe I might die in a year. It may be true, but I don’t know it and I can’t figure out how to feel it. Oh I can jump up and down, throw my fist in the air and for a moment or two, or even an hour or so, get all charged up, but that’s not where my best writing comes from.
What works for me is discipline. That’s sure not nearly as dramatic nor as interesting as a shipwreck, I know. I’m sorry if you’re disappointed.
Look, I’ve known forever I’m supposed to write; I like writing, I like getting paid for my writing and I hate going into an office five days a week.
The only way I know to stay out of an office run by someone other than me in my own home, even as a writer, is to get up most mornings and put my behind on the chair, my fingers on the keyboard and write. But I don’t think wanting to stay out of an office is my real motivation – not in the sense most people mean it anyway.
I actually like the process of writing. Putting this blog together, for example, the process of it, pleases me. There was a patch in the beginning that was just awful – it’s better now. The whole thing is closer to what I want to say. The doing of that excites me.
If, however, I hadn’t gotten up morning after morning, most mornings, I don’t think I would have found the joy of it.
Someone said, maybe even me, that it’s hard to get worse at something we practice. Practice and discipline seem like synonyms to me.
How do you feel about this?
Image from http://www.sxc.hu