I have a problem. I need to do an edit pass on a novel project and I need to fix a short story I have no target market for. I know what needs to be done to both projects, but I am having trouble motivating myself to do either. It isn’t that I hate edits, I don’t– not when working on them for an editor. But in my mind there’s a big difference between fine-tuning something someone has already seen merit in enough to want to publish, and fine-tuning something that might still be rejected.
I’ve had a similar problem a grant I’m writing for work. I know there’s a pretty good chance my institution will be turned down for the grant no matter what I do. It’s hard to know how much the sequestration has effected various government programs and while the grants still currently say they’re open there might be much less money than normal to be awarded or even no awards to give. It’s hard to do what is A LOT of work and in formats my brain doesn’t naturally want to work in, for what is likely to be no benefit. However, there is still a chance, and this chance will greatly benefit my institution and my position if we do get the grant. It’s just very hard to motivate myself and I keep thinking something will just shift and change and my brain will be “oh sure, let’s do this thing!” and everything will be easy.
It isn’t easy. What’s easy is telling myself it’s not worth the effort. It’s always worth the effort. I just have to remind myself the worth isn’t always in the supposed reward. Some of my most rewarding experiences in the long run, seemed like tremendous personal failures initially.
I guess it’s a little bit how I see dating. Dating isn’t just about finding a life partner, it’s just as much about finding qualities and quirks you can’t possibly deal with in a life partner. I strongly recommend dating a long string of the “wrong people who fit the description of what you think you want” to those just starting out in dating. You’ll learn more about yourself and what you really want that way. I thought I wanted a partner who would dote on me, and I got that in my first boyfriend. His doting was linked to personal insecurities, obsessive behaviors, co-dependance, and eventually emotional blackmail. It turned out I really didn’t want to be someone’s whole world and I had other things I’d prefer to spend my time on. This experience SAVED MY ASS so many times when I ended up in various relationships (work, friendship, intimate) where people began showing signs of similar behaviors and I was able to take steps to avoid problems.
Now I just have to keep reminding myself of that when it comes to writing and work. The things I think I want might not be what I think they are, and I should push forward towards failure as well as success to make sure I’m getting the proper bad experiences to keep me from having worse experiences in the future. Avoiding the potential for failure is only going to hurt me, not protect me.