Thursday, March 19, 2009

Guest post on Small Hands Big Ideas

Grace and I met a few weeks ago via another blog so I was delighted when she asked me to write a post about inspiration and motivation. Here's the link and the re-post:

Motivation: The Underbelly
I love to write about what inspires me. In fact, most of my blog is about the different things that I stumble across online that make me say "wow, what an amazing idea!" and there really are some cool things out there right now. However, I believe there's another side to motivation that's slightly less rosy but equally as effective.

I showed up to my first graduate level writing class at age 20 believing myself to be the next Dorothy Parker and prepared to prove this to my new class. Until I found out two of my classmates had book deals. I had no book deal. The feeling was a mix of jealousy and confusion about my accomplishments and left me running for my computer after class. In tears. Crying to my roommate that I was "never going back to that class again". Melodramatic, I know but this was one of my most memorable run-ins with motivation. I took off the next summer and slaved over writing a book (I neither published nor finished it) that began right that moment in that class.
When it comes right down to it movies and books and art are inspirational tools that change the way I think and influence my art, a list of the "Top 30 Most Successful People Under 30" motivates me to get up at 5AM instead of 6.
In my mind, motivation and competition are kissing cousins. Case in point, how many times have you looked at an extremely successful group of people and discovered they've all been friends for years? They push each other with some healthy competition to be better at what they do. While it's sometimes hard to swallow, I find myself working ten times harder right after I meet someone 5 years younger than me with a successful website, their own art gallery, or a series of gorgeous photos they just shot. Here's my suggestion to use competition as motivation.

Choose a nemesis. Don't go out there and make an enemy, just choose someone who's a little ahead of you in the game (has double your readership instead of millions of readers for example) and stay on top of their advances and successes. I happen to be friends with several of the people that I consider to be slight competition. In other words, don't get caught up in disliking people who are ahead of you, just use that energy to push yourself a little further. Athletes do this all the time.

Write a list. I know, I know, everyone says this but you should do it. Right now. Write down all of the things you want to do even if they are totally ridiculous. Put it on your refrigerator. Look at it every single day. Every person that comes over to my house now knows that I want to improve my credit score, save some more money, own a condo in Las Vegas, and write a book but looking at this every single day while I do nothing about it makes me feel lazy. Eventually, I started chipping away at some of them.

So while inspiration makes our work worth doing and is the source of so many of our brilliant ideas, without motivation they may never come to fruition. At least for me, the ones up at 5 and out there doing it are that motivation.


Blogger Grace Boyle said...

Caitlin, I like the avenue you took to write this and I like how you gave an "action" step. Thanks again and enjoy your Friday!

March 20, 2009 at 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Kara Martens said...

Hi, Caitlin - Great post. Found it through Modite. It's been awhile - hope you are doing well. you're in my feeds now; looking forward to more posts. :)

April 15, 2009 at 8:23 PM  

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