Motivating Yourself

Yesterday, I did a review of The Writer's Book of Hope, which was specifically geared towards writers.

Which got me thinking about motivation in general.

One of the nice things about receiving gift cards to bookstores - especially online ones - is that you can pick up whatever books you want (within the $ restraints of the gift card). Big deal, you say, you can do that whenever you want.

But, somehow, it feels kind of special going the gift card route; I can't explain it. For me, though, I tend to get books I wouldn't normally think of getting (as I usually pick up fantasy novels when I'm traipsing through a bricks-and-mortar bookstore or just going through my Wish List on Amazon). Maybe it's just me.

Anyhoo...I've been a bit in the doldrums lately (for good reasons), and one thing that was kind of getting to me was concern for my day job. I'm doing my job, of course, but it's been quite a drag for the last few months. Oh, I enjoy the people here and all (especially my bosses), but the work itself? Let me put it to you this way: I just finished slapping together the chronological file (chron file in Officespeak) for my boss...from October 2007!

Yeah, filing bites, but it's necessary if you want to find something from a couple of months ago, ya know? ;-) Now I have November 2007 to look forward to. Meh. I also have a bunch of bills that have to input into the online billing system, which then has to be approved through my boss, and then his boss.

Snoozing yet?

A Motivating Book...No, Really!

Well, one of the many books I've ordered online lately was this one:

(Yes, I'm shamelessly plugging something today, as I'm too lazy to do the neato image only stuff. :-))

It's by one of those motivational gurus (stay with me) named Steve Chandler. I think what drew me was that this is not one of those "This is the only way you can be motivated - TRUST ME!" books. Some of the 100 "ways" (little snippets, actually) made my eyes glaze over, others have stayed with me.

This is not just for would-be writers. This is to motivate you - using your brain and everything that's inside of you - to become a more motivated person. Instead of just living from day to day, bored out of your skull (unfortunately, like I currently am at my office job), his suggestions make it clear that it doesn't have to be this way.

No, I haven't lost my cynicism of most of these types of books - read 'em and forget 'em, usually - there are some things in here that are staying with me. True, I'm re-reading this stuff every day, a little at a time, but some of it is quite interesting - stuff I haven't seen before.

Then again, maybe it's because I don't read every new motivational book that comes out. So this stuff might be old hat. But not to me.

For instance, in (I think) Number 22, Mr. Chandler talks about finding your soul. One of the anecdotes he provides is about Arnold Schwartzeneggar. When he was growing up in Austria, his father prominently displayed, in a fancy frame, "Joy Through Strength." That's all it said. Arnold must've taken that to heart, huh? ;-)

He also talks about remembering the happiest day of your life, of rewinding that every so often (every day, if necessary) to remind yourself of what made you happy. How can you get that back? What can you do to get that happiness?

For me, it might've been getting married, moving into our first (and so far only) house, or something similar. With apologies to my hubby, nope.

Singing and Happiness

You read that right.

Back in third or fourth grade, I joined chorus. I always enjoyed singing the hymns in church, even if my dad and I went to Mass alone.

So I figured, why not? It sounded like fun. Of course, it was a bit of work, too, because I had to learn lyrics to some cheesy pop songs (fun ones, but still kind of cheesy). What did I do? I would come home from school, close the door to my room, and then go over and over the lyrics until Mom said dinner was ready. I'd eat dinner, finish up any homework, then go back into my room for another 1/2 hour or so to again go over the lyrics. Sure, there were times when I wanted to quit, but I didn't: My love of singing and the idea of showing others I could do it (in a group, but still...) kept me on track.

On track for what? Well, the music teacher one year said she had a special singing group she was getting together to sing Christmas songs. We would sing at a special get-together outside of school, at a local restaurant.

Was I scared at the prospect of singing in front of a whole bunch of people? Probably. But my first overwhelming thought was...OMG, I want to do that! I don't know if the music teacher felt my enthusiasm, but, you guessed it, I became part of the group!

We stayed after school for about 1/2 an hour to an hour each day. This was in addition to regular chorus. One song in particular we harmonized well on, and I can still sing it in that way today:

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green
Here we come a-wassailing
So fair to be seen

Love and joy come to you
And to you
Your wassail, too
And God bless you
And send you
A Happy New Year
And God send you
A Happy New Year

It's a traditional English carol; the music teacher substituted "caroling" for "wassailing" as she figured no one would know what the heck a wassail was. (And it was possibly related to alcohol, so that was definitely a no-go.) Anyway, we harmonized very well on this song, so it's no wonder that I can still remember this particular verse.

The other songs we sang...not so much.

Must've frustrated the heck out of the music teacher, because she decided to name our little group. What did she call it? The Dingalings. :-) And here's the difference between the time I was growing up (the 1970s) and now: Not one single kid complained to his/her parents about it, nor did any parents sue the teacher and/or school because it brought down their kid's self esteem or something. Most of us shrugged it off or had a good chuckle, while the parents did the same.

I mean, c'mon...except for that one song, we couldn't harmonize for anything. Ditzy and dingy, indeed! :-)

To Get Back to the Point

But do you see what I mean? Just thinking about that in the shower this morning made me want to blog about it, so it accomplished its purpose of getting me to write something. Yes, I'll probably futz around with my WIP, and write down some stuff on other project (a possible series) that I'm thinking about.

Definitely worth buying, but if nothing else, give the two ideas above a whirl. Maybe they'll help you out of a writing slump or out of a boring routine at work. It's got me thinking in a direction I never thought I would (writing related, but non fiction).

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~Nancy Beck