Action Comes Before Motivation
Today was one of those terrible doldrum days, when I couldn't seem to raise the energy to even figure out what I wanted to do. After getting my Examiner stuff done, I sort of ran out of momentum. I knew what I ought to do. I ought to do any number of writing tasks that have been languishing for weeks. But of course the very fact that I hadn't done these things already made it harder to get up and do any of them. You know the routine.
This morning's Examiner stuff included blogging about the upcoming Rebel Tales e-zine and its submission guidelines. Reacquainting myself with Holly Lisle's internet presence reminded me that I had a print-out of her free e-book Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction For Love And Money on my shelf. Having very little energy doesn't preclude reading; sometimes reading is all I manage to do on days like this. So I started paging through.
It was a good choice of book for today's reading. There's nothing quite like the biography of someone who literally wrote themselves to financial independence to get me excited about writing again. The little voice in my head starts muttering happy things, like "You could totally do this!" and "All you have to do is write!"
"Yes," was my response (poor happy little naive little voice!), "but besides being in this low-energy 'I don't wanna' space, I have that awful tight-muscles-on-the-right-side headache again."
"So go to the gym," said happy little voice. "Go climb some walls. That'll stretch out your back nicely and your headache will go away!"
Happy little voice had the right idea. It was past 5 already, the day was starting to look like over, but darn it, I'd pedal down the street with my climbing shoes and attack some bouldering problems.
Which is about when I remembered the commonplace I'd picked up from Dr. David D. Burns's book Feeling Good: Action comes before motivation, not vice versa. Almost the moment I decided on going to the climbing gym, my energy level rose by about 110%. I was visualizing myself biking down the street, locking up the bike at the gym, putting on my climbing shoes, hanging off of a low wall and contemplating where to put my feet... Imagining the action was itself an action.
I knew this stuff. I always used to say that if I could see myself doing a thing, doing the thing became inevitable. I didn't need to read in a book that getting into motion is how I get energized. But it does seem to slip my mind.
So, one bike ride and three novice-level bouldering problems later, full of energy not only from having exercised but having accomplished some small, do-able things (I finished those three problems! Go me!) I was at my desk with my notebook and able to start writing. Funny how that works.
For my next trick, how about I do that in the morning instead of at dinner time?