Zero Motivation: Part 4

Note: You can read this motivation series in any order, but if the thought of reading something out of order makes you want to scream sweet-sweet profanities to the sky, here’s are links to the others:


One thing that can often drive up our motivation to create is feeling blocked or stuck in the mud with no great ideas.

We want to build something spectacular and new (be it a company, song, article or new piece of art), but for whatever reason, we can’t motivate ourselves to do it.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture already? Our approach is wrong. We haven’t even started and we are putting expectations on ourselves to perform and produce great work. Which technically is the outcome we want to produce. However, because we are putting pressure on ourselves to create something amazing when we haven’t likely even come up with one idea yet, we psyched ourselves out. Believe me, I’ve been there. Ah, I haven’t come up with any new ideas in a while… I really should practice today, but… Maybe tomorrow…

Most often this looks like comparing our current subpar ideas to some of our past ideas that turned out great. Ugh. Am I ever be able to write something as good as that was again?

Instead of comparing ourselves to our younger and better past selves, we need to start with a blank slate each time we sit down to create.

Going small helps lower the barrier to entry to just have fun and make something. And a change of scenery is also a great way to get yourself out of a creative rut.

Solution #4: Change Your Location

— Of course, right now, it’s not exactly easy or recommended to get outside of our houses. (Ah, remember the old days where we could go to coffee shops and give each other high-fives?)

But there are ways to change our scenery without having to leave your home. Even subtle things can help, like sitting on the floor instead of at your desk to get yourself out of your element. Avoid your usual nooks and crannies and get creative. What if you pulled up a seat near a window and daydream before you start writing? Why not try sitting on your kitchen counter. Try bringing a lamp into your closet and try sitting in there to create. Start playing your guitar sitting in your bathtub (empty of course). Forget how silly this sounds. Silliness can spark imaginative ideas.

Another kind of way to “change your scenery” is to change your approach or work with different tools than you normally do. If you are used to charcoal, use Sharpe’s. If you writing on your computer, try using a pen and paper instead. If you are used to a pen, try swapping it with a crayon or use an Exacto-knife to cut out your ideas.

Artificial Limitation is another useful strategy to get out of your own way and spark new ideas.

Setting a timer is a classic method of artificial limitation. What painting can I come up with in the next twenty minutes? What story can I create in the next 15 minutes?

Another way to limit yourself is to take away options.

What if you could only use the top three strings of your guitar to create a song instead of the usual six? (One time I’ve gone so far as to remove strings intentionally and remove temptation)

What dance can I come up with if I had to stay seated in a chair?

What dish can I whip up with if I had to use oregano and lemon?

Limitations are anything but limited. They can give us the structure and foundation we need so that we can think differently.

Remember—there are always ideas out there. We just have to shake up our routine every so often and change our approach to get them.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #898

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