Motivation and Critique

Now that life’s a little more calm at Marcum Manor, we can get back to the regular grind of things. School, work, home – lather, rinse, repeat. Between wrangling assignments, wrangling co-workers, and wrangling family members (both of the un-fuzzy and fuzzy variety), I stay pretty exhausted most of the time. That’s okay, though. How does that old saying go? “No pain, no gain?” Yeeeeah.

Anyway…I just made an appointment for a new tattoo, which always gets me out of my funk. I have to wait until June 30, and it’ll be my first “big” one that’s visible all the time. It’ll also be tattoo #11. I wanted something that reflects who I am, where I’m going, and where I’ve been. Here’s a VERY ROUGH sketch (I’m a writer, not an artist, so gimme a little leeway) of what I plan to have put on my right inner forearm:

May be an illustration
And above, you see an example of why Linley writes instead of draws…
That little glob to the right of the semi-colon is supposed to be the ink bottle stopper.

So, there’s that…something to look forward to…

I’m hoping it’ll do double-duty for me, reminding me of where I’ve been, and pushing me onward to where I want to be. Which brings me to the first thing I want to discuss this week, which is motivation.

I’ll be the very first to admit that maintaining motivation toward any goal is difficult when you have a lot on your plate that requires your attention. There are days when I feel like there’s no point in continuing on with any of it, and those are the most difficult days. Diagnosed depression makes life hard, and sometimes it makes life even harder; keeping motivation at even a reasonable level is exceptionally challenging, and to be honest I have no tips to help you maintain or up motivation. What works for me (or has worked for me in the past) is to find something in the short term to focus on and look forward to. The tattoo appointment is doing that for me right now. As long as that’s hanging out there in the future, and I feel like I’ve got something on the horizon, I can generally push through and keep going with everything else – school, home, work – and generally get things done. Motivation in the long-term, though…well, that’s a different story entirely.

While out shopping with my son yesterday, I came across something that has worked for me in the past, and works for me now, too. We dropped into the bookstore (actually for ice cream / froyo rather than books) and were browsing around a little bit. I happened upon the fantasy / sci-fi section of the store, and was just looking around a little bit. Something led me to the section of “M” authors, and I took this photo:

No description available.
I’ll save you guys the mystery…

So, I showed this photo to my husband, my son, and my best friend. All three of them couldn’t come up with why this photo was important, or what was so special about this little section of the bookshelf. Can you guess?

This is the spot on the shelf where my work will reside in the future, right there between “Mammay” and “Martell” (yes, I realize McCaffrey is mis-shelved…deal…). Of all the times I’ve been told that my friends and family are proud of me, of all the inspirational memes, all the words of encouragement, this has done it for me, and I feel like it would continue to do it for me. Wouldn’t it you? Wouldn’t you feel like pushing forward and working harder if you had that hanging over you? If you saw, every day, that if you continue to work hard and achieve excellence, that your name is gonna be right there next to those others, wouldn’t you do it?

Motivation. Find what works for you and use it to keep going.

I was going to talk about critiquing dos-and-don’ts this week, but I feel like I’ve held your attention long enough, so we’ll address that next week. Besides…I have an assignment to finish up for school, and that place on the shelf is looming large in my mind today.

I’ve been slacking on questions for you guys for the last couple of weeks, so let’s do one. What has worked for you in the past to keep you motivated? Let’s talk about it in the comments! I’d love to know how you keep going when you don’t feel like you can. Keep it up, you guys! Keep going, keep writing, and have a great Sunday!

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