One of the greatest difficulties about doing what you love is doing just that — doing what you love.
Now, I know that sounds crazy, but let me explain.
My mother and I were talking today about some of my recent writing endeavors, and she asked, “So, how do you feel about that? Like, how do you feel about continually motivating yourself to do that work?”
This is such a great question because it is one that I often struggle to answer.
Here is an attempt:
I am motivated because it is what I love to do. I really do love, love, love it.
I am sometimes unmotivated because, like anything, it is tough for a job or relationship or anything to consistently feel fresh and exciting. What’s more, being a creative artist is, at times, completely draining to the brain. You think and you think and you create and you create and … you burnout.
But I am not complaining. Please don’t think this is a hear-Caroline-whine-about-her-life post.
It is not.
What I am trying express to you is that, — next to my family, significant other, friends, future children and maybe a good run — there is nothing except for writing that would be worth the sacrifice of sometimes feeling a little bit tired or void of motivation.
In Some Thoughts on Writing, Elizabeth Gilbert (the oh-so-talented writer of which this blog is inspired by) shares a story about her artist friend who begins to become uninspired, and even depressed, about his craft. She says:
“I have a friend who’s an Italian filmmaker of great artistic sensibility. After years of struggling to get his films made, he sent an anguished letter to his hero, the brilliant (and perhaps half-insane) German filmmaker Werner Herzog. My friend complained about how difficult it is these days to be an independent filmmaker, how hard it is to find government arts grants, how the audiences have all been ruined by Hollywood and how the world has lost its taste…etc, etc. Herzog wrote back a personal letter to my friend that essentially ran along these lines: “Quit your complaining. It’s not the world’s fault that you wanted to be an artist. It’s not the world’s job to enjoy the films you make, and it’s certainly not the world’s obligation to pay for your dreams. Nobody wants to hear it. Steal a camera if you have to, but stop whining and get back to work.” I repeat those words back to myself whenever I start to feel resentful, entitled, competitive or unappreciated with regard to my writing: “It’s not the world’s fault that you want to be an artist…now get back to work.” Always, at the end of the day, the important thing is only and always that: Get back to work. This is a path for the courageous and the faithful. You must find another reason to work, other than the desire for success or recognition. It must come from another place.”
I love those words: “It’s not the world’s fault you wanted to be an artist … now get back to work.”
How vital it is for anyone — not just the artist — to keep those words in mind?!
Nobody asked you to be the person you have become. Stop whining. If you can’t stop, do something else. You should not always feel the urge to complain, and the person you have chosen to be should never make you unhappy. If he or she does … FIND ANOTHER YOU.
And that’s it. That is how I answered my mother’s question — not in those exact words, but you know what I mean.
I don’t want to be another me. And when I feel — for even a glimmer of a second — like I might, I get back to work.
Because this is what I love to do.
It hasn’t always been that way, but it is now.
So, now, getting back to work, well, … I’m OK with that.
And that feels pretty darn good.
My kitten, Cooper, stretching with me this morning. He is perfectly happy with the kitten he has become. (: