I made this blog with the goal of having fun, practicing writing and using it as a place to store ideas and any solutions I wanted to save. However sometimes, this blog causes me more stress than any of the other things I am currently doing in my life. That doesn't sound like fun to me.
So, with the stress + goals in mind I decided to write a post to see what it looks like in print. I'm thinking this will be somewhat therapeutic and hopefully get me back to writing and having fun with the blog.
It all started out great, I was full of excitement to have a blog of my very own. It's running on Azure so I also got to play around with that a bunch. I loved the thought of having a central place to "bookmark" all the solutions to those weird (mostly BizTalk) problems I have at work.
The first few posts nearly wrote themselves as they were basically just how-tos on some specific problem I was having. Then I started having trouble thinking of things once my main source of problems ran out. Then since I fell out of the groove, even when I had an idea, the thought of writing just seemed like a huge chore. That finally led to my current state of weighing motivation of guilt against demotivation of having to "do something".
Then I just had the idea to basically write about not writing and what's worked and what hasn't. So here it is.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
When you're thinking "Oh man, it's been a week since you last did
<insert thing here> you're really slacking off". Don't use that as attempted motivation. For those of you with kids, or if you can think back to when you were younger: how many times does yelling or reprimanding someone work in your favour to get them doing what you want?
Don't Compare Yourself To Others
Sure, it looks like Scott Hanselman is a blogging machine and fires off posts like a howitzer. Well, I guess he does...But! you don't know what all is involved, he's had years of practice and experience to hone his skills.
While you can't instantly acquire such experience, I try to liken it to doing anything else such as playing an instrument, playing a sport even playing a video game. When you first start, it seemed like an impossible task. But if you keep going, you start to make small breakthroughs and eventually are able to look back and think "Wow, that used to seem really difficult" about something that is now second nature.
But I want those skills now!, you say. Well, that's a whole world I know nothing about. It involves dedicating your life to doing it. If you're ready to do that, I'm envious and just know that it's all possible using Scott and all that others as an example.
Practice When it's Fun
If there's one thing I've learned from trying to play the banjo, it's that if you try to practice when you're too tired or it's really late at night or you are just "trying to squeeze it in", you're not going to have a good experience. When you don't have a good experience doing something, you tend not to gain much from it.
So if you suddenly have a great idea, get motivated and are able to get to a device, go spill your excitement onto the screen/paper. Even if it's just to jot down a couple point-form notes, it will keep that motivation documented.
Likening to banjo again, I find that it makes me want to play more often if I stop playing while I'm still enjoying it. There's nothing worse than just trying to finish this last routine or lick and quitting after you've forced yourself to play longer than felt natural. You leave that particular task with a bad taste in your mouth. So the next time you think about it, that's what you remember; something negative.
The same goes for writing (I've found). If possible, get the main ideas down while you're still excited and then leave it to stew for a while, you'll more than likely be able to fill in the blanks more efficiently and eloquently than if you tried to stuff it in during the initial draft.
As with most things, the determining factor is time. My biggest excuse is not having enough time. You just finished feeding, cleaning-up after, bathing, brushing, dressing, reading-to and tucking in your kids. It's 9:30pm and you still need to shower, shave, get your lunch ready and get to sleep.
Once you do all that it's 10:20pm and that thought of "You haven't done such-and-such in sooooo long" pops to mind. Your energy is missing, motivation is low and so you switch to guilt...it doesn't work.
In these situations, just forget about it. You'll honestly get more benefit from reading or watching TV for half an hour than trying to juice the pebble that is your brain at the moment. Instead, take solace in the fact that yes, the stars will align, the kids will fall asleep early, you'll have that lull at work and will be able to finish up that post you started weeks ago. The time will come.
Remember Your Goal
Fun. The goal is fun (for me). If I'm not having fun writing, I'm going to wait until a later time when I can have fun doing it.
I know there have been countless posts just like this one. I've read them. I've always wondered what motivated people to write them, because honestly I know it's boring. However, I know see.
It's helped me relax a bit, I feel like I've accomplished something and feel a new sense of motivation.