How to Stay Motivated, Part 1: Your Feelings Are Stupid

Thinking about all the excuses I use not to do things, about 75% of them are some version of: I don’t feel like it. Does this sound like you? How do you fix it?

Here’s an idea: Stop listening to your feelings. No, really.

Become this man just before you sit down to write.

Become this man just before you sit down to write.

I can hear what you’re thinking.

I’m a writer. Listening to my feelings helps me to write things other than operating manuals for DVD players and labels on cheap bottles of shampoo. If I don’t, like, listen to my feelings, how will I write anything with emotional impact?

 See? I heard that. And none of what you’re thinking matters until about 10 minutes into an actual writing session. Until then, your feelings will mostly be telling you that you still need to clean the house and call your mother and check Facebook.

As you might’ve guessed by now, ignoring your feelings—specifically the “I don’t feel like it” feeling—is key to developing the discipline of an actual writing habit.

 

Giving In to “I Don’t Feel Like It”

For me, the cycle of writing malaise begins with ignoring my self-imposed writing time just once.  Giving in even one time makes it easier to do it again, at least in my experience. But I’m a generally lazy person, so this might not happen to you. If that’s the case, feel free to take a rest day. I’ll just be over here, procrastinating.

How to Fight “I Don’t Feel Like It”

I’ll be honest: I have no scientific idea how you’re supposed to overcome “I don’t feel like it.” I don’t understand the psychological roots of procrastination, and I certainly won’t pretend to be an authority on changing your life with habit formation and positive thinking, a la The Secret.

But I do know that whenever I choose to ignore “I don’t feel like it,” and do “it” anyway, I feel pretty good. In fact, I feel like I’ve scored a double: I did the thing I needed to do and I didn’t listen to my inner procrastinating self telling me not to do it.

Conclusion: When I think, “I don’t feel like it,” that’s a cue for me to begin doing the thing I don’t feel like doing.

 

How do you fight “I don’t feel like it?” Share your best tactics in the comments.

Categories: Motivation, Writing Tips
  • http://www.byronedgington.com/ Byron Edgington

    Bartleby could have used this advice. Part of this addresses narrative reliability, too. As writers, we’re not necessarily the speaker in whatever work we’re putting together, just the narrator him/herself. Who cares, in other words, what the ‘writer’ is feeling that day. What’s important is the story, and how the characters feel.
    Thanks Shanan

  • writerrobynlarue

    I think the habit of writing is all about doing it every day regardless of…well, anything. Discipline matters for sure. 🙂 but once a writer understands that they are resisting starting to write and write fine once they do, it’s easier (at least for me).

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  • http://knowonesbeans.com Kenny Burrell

    i want to share but there is something pulling me back

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