Motivation Monday: Where’s the Joy in It?

Sitting in church yesterday, one word kept popping out at me, even though the message wasn’t really focused on it. And that word was joy. I kept thinking about it in terms of writing. I wondered: where’s the joy in it? Lord knows, writing is a tough business full of rejection and low-paid work. So, is it worth it to keep at if there’s no joy in it? Am I still finding joy in it? Are you?

I am one of those writers who can’t not write.  Even if you told me that I’d never make another penny from my work, never see anything published ever again, I’d still keep writing. I love the puzzle-like fun of putting a novel together and continuing to discover things about my characters. I love the self-discovery that ensues from a good journaling session.  And I love writing about writing (and motivation and inspiration and all that good stuff) in my blog and newsletter.

So yeah, I still find joy in it.  There’s nothing like the feeling I get after a good writing session, when I look up and find myself in love with everything in the world. That’s what sustains me when I get another rejection or I can’t seem to think of a topic for a blog post or the vicissitudes of life keep me away from my writing.

It’s the joy of it.    

The joy of the creative process, of putting words on the page, one after another.  When it is going well, it’s bliss.( Of course, when it’s not going well, it’s hell—but that’s a topic for another day.)  That’s what keeps me going. And I assume, because I’m pretty sure you and I are not so different, that it’s what keeps you going as well.

But what happens if you’ve lost the joy in it? What if you long to write but the fire has gone out?

Here are a few things to try:

–Write fast.  A lack of joy in writing comes from perfectionism, which manifests as laboring over every word.  Short circuit that tendency by vowing to write fast.  Set a timer and see how many words you can get on the page before it goes off. The words don’t have to be pretty, they just have to be on the page.

–Remember that writing is a process.  Too often we get hung up on product.  The joy comes in the process of writing, in that lovely feeling when you are so absorbed that time passes and you’re not even aware of it.  Let yourself focus on the process without worrying about the end result.

–Write any old thing.  If you’ve lost the fire for your novel, write an essay about a topic dear to your heart. If you’re struggling with your memoir, write a short story. Write a poem. Write in your journal.  Write a play or movie script.  Shake those brain cells and neurotransmitters up!

–Take a break.  Tell yourself you can’t write. Can’t work on any of your projects. Can’t journal. If you are anything like me, you like to rebel against yourself, and this is a surefire way to get back to it and kindle some joy.  If you really do end up taking a break, you’ll come back to it with space in your brain and heart to find the joy again.

I hope some of these suggestions help to motivate you. And if you are having a hard time finding the joy, might I suggest that coaching can help? Continuing through midnight on July 4th, I’m running a coaching special.  For three-month, paid in advance clients, I’m offering two free extra sessions.  That’s 14 sessions instead of 12. And for six-month, paid in advance clients, I’m adding on 4 sessions. Woot! That’s 28 sessions instead of 24.  Just think what you can get done in a few months of one-on-one coaching with me. You could get a huge start on your novel. Or finish the project that’s moldering in the drawer. Or start the process of getting an agent—or get your book self published.

Interested? Contact me and let’s chat.

But I Can’t Be Happy

Does this ever happen to you? Flower_flowers_stuffed_250188_l

Suddenly and wonderfully, for no known reason, you feel a flash of happiness, or a rush of sudden joy.  Ah, glory.  You stop to revel in it.  And then…

Up pops that voice.

The one that whispers:

 Yes, but…

Yes, but, remember?  I can't be happy!

Why? I can't be happy because:

  • I still haven't lost the extra weight I'm carrying
  • I'm still not published
  • I'm not making enough money
  • I don't have a perfect love relationship
  • I don't have children and I really, really want some
  • I don't have my ideal job

All of which translates to:

  • I'm not thin enough
  • I'm not rich enough
  • I'm not published enough
  • I don't have enough
  • I'm not enough

To which I say: Enough, already!  You are enough, you have enough, you do enough.  I know, I know.  That's scant comfort when your buoyant joy is brought down to earth by that insistent voice.  So what's the antidote?

So glad you asked.  Here are my best strategies:

Recognize that its your ego talking.  Joy and happiness come from connection, from the divine, from being at one with the wonderful world.  The ego comes from a lifetime of misperceptions, imagined and real hurts, and crazy ideas that get lodged in our brain.  Just remembering this and recognizing that it is the ego squelching your joy is the first step.

Tell it to shut the f*%# up.   Geneen Roth talks about screaming back at the ego in her work.  Tell it to shut up, tell it that its not welcome, tell it that it is interrupting.   You may be a kinder, gentler soul than I, and want to ask it nicely to be quiet.  Do whatever works.

Know that all you really need (and have) is the present moment.  In every moment, you can choose love or you can choose fear.  It is pretty obvious that choosing to listen to the ego is choosing fear whereas choosing love is letting joy overtake you.  This takes practice, but gets easier.

That's all I've got for you at the moment.  Silencing the ego is a lifelong practice.  But it is a worthwhile one, becasue in the end we are here to love and experience joy. Anybody else have any suggestions?

Photo by hagit.