Have you ever struggled with feeling completely unmotivated to write? Not so much butt-in-chair day-to-day motivation, but that bigger motivation that drives you to do all of the hard, thankless, borderline crazy things we writers do in the hopes of achieving our dreams and/or satisfying our compulsions.
I haven’t. Not until now.
Even before I wanted to be a writer, I had this endless compulsion to express the stories that welled up in my mind: through drawing my own scenes and comics, Lego reenactments, paper dolls, video games, online written roleplays, talking through “what-ifs” with a friend until 6 AM. And when I think of the story ideas I’ve amassed, I’m still excited about them. That compulsion hasn’t gone away.
But that Bigger Drive to be a writer… it feels like something’s come between me and it. Something semi-permeable, but still, something. I’ve made myself sit down to work on a short story for about 30 minutes a day, but when I try to imagine my growing backlog or the possibility of my writing taking off or anything related to my creative career, my heart doesn’t give much more than a listless “so what?” in response.
My brain’s still committed. I’ve never loved anything half as much as I love writing, so I’m not giving up. I have a rare opportunity to dedicate most of my time to writing for a while as well. And who knows? Maybe this extra focus will result in a couple hundred bucks a month by the time I have to go back to work. So why do I feel so “meh” about being a writer?
Well, I’m sure my recent visa application rejection and subsequent move back to the US to stay with my parents has a lot to do with it. My parents are loving and wonderful and happy to have me for as long as I want to stay. And since I’m currently living rent-free, I’ve been playing with the idea of taking the rest of the year to focus full-time on writing.
It should be a dream. I even outlined a plan. Instead, I feel almost directionless.
But why? I have more than enough savings to pull this off and it makes sense to pursue. I should be beyond excited. I’m just not.
- Have I internalized the belief that writing isn’t a real job, so I need to do something else?
- Is the story I’m currently working on simply boring?
- Am I just not cut out to be a full-time writer?
- Am I depressed? Do I need to thoroughly process my visa rejection and how I feel about it?
- Do I simply need some recovery time?
- Should I seek motivation by reading about other writers or by reading great fiction?
I suspect part of my problem is low-grade depression. I rarely feel outright sad, and even this apathy is an unusual feeling for me. I’m not excited about spending time writing, but I’m not excited about anything else, either. Not my freelance work. Not reading. Not seeing my friends. I even bought a new video game in one of my favorite series in an attempt to give myself something to really get into, but I can’t even manage to play for very long.
So what do I do about it?
I think the first thing I’ll do is give myself a break. A complete vacation from writing or anything else that isn’t necessary. At the same time, I’ll read whatever I want to read, watch what I want to watch, play what I want to play. I’ll casually look into potential causes and fixes for this greater lack of motivation as well.
If I don’t see progress in a week, I’ll talk to a therapist. Since I’m lucky enough to have good health insurance, it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
The one thing I won’t do is allow this time to go to waste. If I can’t bring myself to write, then I’ll get a job and use my time at home to replenish my savings. Doing nothing is almost never the answer.