I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation lately. In part because I’ve been trying to find some! Bet you saw that coming, huh? And, in part, because (against all odds) in the last two months I’ve become fairly serious about yoga. Five or six classes a week serious. Which, frankly, kind of surprised me.
My last serious fitness regime (many years ago) consisted of running. ALONE. And slowly. It worked well. I had no trouble motivating myself to get out there and run six miles a day; I even occasionally pushed myself to run eight. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant...I told you it was a long time ago, right? I might even have kept up with it. Because it fit with what I thought I knew about myself.
See, I tend to think of myself as a loner, a self-starter, an introvert and something of a control freak. I’m NOT the kind of person who always plays nicely with the other children. Not someone I’d expect to enjoy a class environment—not to mention the potential awkwardness in being (sadly, most of the time) the least fit or flexible person in any given class. Or the fact that class is located a good twenty minutes away—and that’s without traffic. On a road that’s hardly ever “without” traffic.
So why don’t I stay home? Why don’t I save time and gas and find online routines, or workout using some of the many exercise books and DVDs I’ve invested in over the years? Because, as it turns out, I can’t. I’m just not motivated.
The thing is, even though one of the nicest things about yoga is the emphasis on honoring your body and only pushing yourself as far or as hard as you’re able to go, I still need the accountability to get what I need out of the practice. Otherwise, I’ll find excuses not to show up. I won’t push myself to do the poses I don’t like, or that (currently) are too hard. And, even if I did try one or two of them, I certainly wouldn’t repeat them as many times!
I’d also miss out on the feedback, learning where I’m tensing up, where I can push harder, stretch further, surrender more.
So what does this have to do with writing? Well, a lot as it happens. Because, contrary to what I’ve always believed, writing is a lot more like yoga than it is like long distance running.
Yes, you have to do most of it alone (and, in my case, slowly). Yes, you have to get yourself out there and do it—no one else is going to do that for you. And if you can’t keep to a schedule and occasionally push yourself to do more...well, you’ll never get anywhere.
I need accountability. Otherwise I’ll watch those deadlines fly by. I won’t push myself to write the books I don’t feel like writing, or the scenes that are too emotionally painful. I won’t stretch myself. And, yes, I need feedback—from readers, from editors, from critique partners, even from reviewers.
I'm still honoring my own process, my own voice, but I've gained a new appreciation for the ways in which writing is not as solitary a pursuit as I first thought.
So that’s me. Those are the lessons I've taken away from the mat. What kind of motivation works for you? What does your writing practice look like?