Everybody, I don’t care what kind of job you have, has days when you’re just not feeling it. Days when you get to your job and the love, the motivation, the oompf to work is just… gone. On vacation. Comes up 404: File Not Found.
Some days the motivation can be found for you – or at least a good facsimile. If you have a boss yelling at you to get things done, or at least external pressure (meetings, presentations, customers to serve, food to cook, emergency calls to answer), work shows up and wants to be done no matter how you feel. But what do you do when you’re self-employed, work at home, and just aren’t feeling the love one day?
I was raised by a writer. He had other, outside jobs sometimes, but for most of my life my father worked at home. He had a desk lamp, and to that lamp was taped a picture of a bear, rising up on its back legs, looking fiercely at the camera as if to attack. Under that my dad had typed “Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you.” (As an aside, I never knew what that quote was from until researching it to write this post — while it has been used as titles of books, and as quotes in TV shows, it can be attributed to Major League pitcher Elwin Charles “Preacher” Roe, as a paraphrase of his comment upon being taken out of a game, “Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you”).
I always took that to mean that some days you are the boss of the creativity, and some days the creativity just goes wherever the heck it wants. But what do you do when it’s not the creativity that seems to have gone out for tea, but motivation? He, and all the other professional writers I knew growing up also have some version of another work ethic phrase… “Show up, do the work.” It doesn’t matter if you write “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” five hundred times, if you’re not feeling creative… show up and write it. Prime the pump, as Julia Cameron says. Doing what you need to do, even if you’re not feeling inspired to, will create routine and structure in your day that those of us who work at home and may have a tendency to lean towards becoming feral at times… need.
Today my motivation seems to have packed up and moved to Canada. I’m not inspired to do a single thing that’s on my (extensive) to-do list. And yet…. and yet. I am showing up and I am doing the work. The dye pots are going, the kiln is firing, and I’m about to wrap this up and go ply a bobbin on the spinning wheel… after which I will put a coat of glaze on some ceramics, and after that, wrap some soap. I know that in six hours or so I will look back on the day and be able to cross a few things off my list, if I just show up and do them.
What motivates you?