People’s Opinions – The Motivation Killer

“You’re really spending a lot of time with that writing?”

I’ve wanted to write about this for a while now. It’s been on my mind for ages and though it usually never bothers me at all, these little comments keep gnawing at me. So I’m warning you, this might end up being a Rant©, but I suspect a lot of you share my frustration.

I try to do what I can to stay inspired and motivated. To learn, to get better and evolve. I want to succeed, to feel accomplished, not just when it comes to writing but in everything I do, all the time.

There are two things I’m particularly passionate about these days. One is writing stories – and though I play music, and go to work, and play video games and do a whole lot of other things – I am particularly invested in and put in a lot of effort in my stories these days.

“What if it never comes to anything?”

The other thing is training. I started a personal journey about 16 months ago now, trying to lose weight and get healthy, and it’s something that both takes a lot of time and something I decided to spend mine on. I already spent a lot of time in the gym before I made that choice, but at the same time I turned my whole life around. I made life style changes. I started saying no to things. I dedicated myself.

“You’re still doing all that training? Why?”

This blog post is partially inspired by a picture I posted of myself recently on Twitter where I showed off some of my training progress. It got a lot of attention and a lot of my Twitter friends cheered me on. I love that. I love it when that’s the case with my writing as well – when people encourage me to keep going, to keep writing, when they give me advice and feedback and critique. I can use that. I can find motivation in that and take inspiration from it. But it’s not always like that.

“Got to be careful that you don’t overdo it.”

Sometimes, people find it difficult to be happy for others. I understand that. Sometimes it gets difficult to see other people succeed. I’m sure absolutely everyone feels like that, occasionally. Especially if the thing in question is something oneself is also trying to accomplish. It stings. And it’s a completely normal emotion to feel sometimes, when other people appear to be successful and you feel like you are not.

But what I really don’t understand, is when people who make absolutely no effort themselves, still go out of the way to ruin it for others. When people who don’t write books, who don’t write music, who don’t go running, who don’t paint, who don’t do anything at all find the time to comment on other people’s efforts.

“Don’t you think you’re wasting your time?”

I wouldn’t care if it was an experienced writer making these comments. Or a health care professional. A well-renowned artist. Someone who’s been around the block a time or two and know what they’re talking about.

But if you don’t, I really don’t need your “insight.” I don’t think anyone does and I struggle to see your reason for sharing it. Have I written dozens of books or sold thousands? No. I’m aware of that and I don’t need your reminder. But at least I’m trying, at least I’m making an effort. Am I wasting my time chasing dreams that might never come to anything at all? Who knows. How’s that time spent on the couch every night treating you?

“Actually, I’ve heard running is bad for you.”

The problem of course arises when people who hear these things, day in and day out, become discouraged. When people listen, start thinking along the same lines themselves, and are convinced to quit. When their motivation dies.

I don’t think the people who say these things realize what kind of devastating effect it might have, when heard by the right (wrong) people.

“Maybe I am wasting my time?

And then the few times I confront people about these comments, those few occasions I get fed up and call it out, I’m usually met with: “I didn’t mean it like that,” or “You’re taking it the wrong way.”

Then what did you mean? And why did you feel the need to say it?

I – for one – think it’s admirable of anyone to spend their time doing things just for them. Without the promise of success, without knowing whether you’ll reach your goal. If you can do that, if you can sit down and devote your time to things that you are passionate about – I’m sure you’re going to do amazing things.

5 thoughts on “People’s Opinions – The Motivation Killer

Add yours

  1. WARNING: OPINIONS AHEAD

    Really, this is going to be long, I should do it as a post on my blog.

    Out of order: You’re a writer. You’re a writer because you write. If you aren’t writing fiction you’re wring here. I’d wager you’ve written all your life in one way or another. I’d also wager you haven’t really accepted that about yourself. You think it’s just normal to be as you are and the somewhat different thing is *wanting* to write and publish fiction

    au contraire mon (writing) frère We’re creatives. Like other artists. And what we do so easily, whip out a quick graph describing a product or for a birthday cared for a friend or a prayer at our church, others cannot do. But they wish they could. And if they can and don’t, they wish they would,

    Once you determine to change anything, people will try to stop you, especially people who belong to your various networks. Ask any alcoholic who quit drinking how fast his “friends” said, “You’re fine, you can have one drink, for God’s sake, it’s Fred’s (birthday, divorce, marriage, christening, promotion)!” They can’t believe the selfish bastard wants to lord it over them all and not drink!

    You do what they can’t or won’t and now you’re shoving it in their faces. (They think, of course you don’t think that or intend it at all.)

    Before I opine about the writing I want to say briefly – running is indeed bad for some people. It an evolutionary adaptation that works differently in different populations depending on the demands of production. Hopi men would run up to 15-30 miles A DAY and back to work their fields. A Hopi can distance run the ass off pretty much anybody. It’s great for them! Not so much someone whose ancestors lived at the edge of a glacier and had to kill and process the meat of a mammoth before it went bad. Medical opinions vary so in some of these cases concern is at least based in some reality. But mostly it’s just people who don’t like the comparison of their lives to yours.

    SO NOW I’M GOING TO PISS YOU OFF. I’m going to speak as a sort of cyber writing mentor (just call me Yodette) because I have written a dozen – more – books and sold thousands. Not 100s of thousands – but (I should look this up sometime) maybe 65-70k? Well, wait. If we count KU pages read – huh – could be 100k. Anyway, you said:

    “Have I written dozens of books or sold thousands? No. I’m aware of that and I don’t need your reminder. But at least I’m trying,…”

    NO! BAD WRITER, BAD! Look – if you want to be a hobby writer, that’s fine. But – make a fucking choice here – if what you want is to be a professional author, you need to decide that and be that now. This is your job. It has hours and tasks and training and goals and you do that. That other thing you go to is for money to pay rent.

    You know, men like romance. But they like their romance disguised as something else. I look at what you wrote here and other things you’ve written about your wife and marriage and I think “This guy’s life is a great romance novel.” I think you should name him Clyde Kadanski and we can watch him evolve from “Clyde” to “Yo! Kad!” at the gym as he gains the respect of his new peers.

    I want to see the journey where he fights the bullshit handed out by those he is definitely leaving behind and comes to terms with simply respecting himself and then – well – of course – he’ll run into that woman he never had the nerve to speak to before and …

    Decide if you want to be an author. Maybe this isn’t the time. But when it is, stop “trying” and just do it. This is hard. Really hard. This is real commitment, this is “I write three hours (or 2) a day and that’s that.” This is making a publishing plan and acting as your own publisher. This is getting the kind of criticism that isn’t critical but still fucks with your mind but you have to get past it and decide there IS an issue there. And fix it.

    This is accepting that you aren’t like them. You aren’t even like the other self-proclaimed writers who talk endlessly about it but don’t do anything. You’re a pro because you act like a pro. It’s your choice.

    You have real talent, okay? Obviously. But you don’t go around the gym willy-nilly picking up a weight here and pumping a machine there, and doing what you feel inspired to do. You have a plan, a routine, you do that. Same thing here.

    Maybe you won’t make this choice until you retire. Or two years from now. Right now, maybe you’re in writing college in life. I have no idea. But until then, recall what Jesus said: “Don’t cast pearls before swine. They will trample them into the mud.”

    You and your life are things of great value – pearls – protect that. You owe no one an explanation for your life. Talk about these things with those who cannot understand, and they will trample you, if they can.

    If you decide to do this thing, send me the first three pages of anything. Email’s on my blog. I am an amazing content reader. And not your friend. But I am in your cheering section.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is kind of exactly what I’m talking about – I’ve already decided I’m not like “them”. I’ve decided to put in the effort, the hours, the work. And I’m not going to care about the comments, no matter how infuriating they might be.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, it really peeves me that the people giving me ‘advice’ are usually the ones most inappropriate to give them. The person talking about money would usually be broke, the one giving me nutrition tips will be unhealthy, and the person saying I’m too old to be doing things like jiu-jitsu is someone with an uninspiring life. Am glad I’m not the only one that feels this way. Thanks for this post, and keep writing and training!

    Liked by 2 people

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