Do-It-Yourself Motivation

If any corporate clown or useless idiot has ever dragged you into a meeting where everyone was encouraged to stand up together, sit down together, and shout in unison as a method of “building your team”, you’ve met Motivation by Morons.

I was forced into a couple of those meetings while I was in nursing, and I could only look at the fool on the podium and think, “We are up to our elbows in other people’s blood, risking our lives to save strangers because this matters to us, and you think standing and sitting in unison is going to turn us into a team? We KNOW why we’re here. Do you?”

This is the motivation model I’m STILL fighting as I work my way through developing the Motivation module for The Writing Craft.

Odds are pretty good that you already know the Motivation-by-Morons drill. “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team'” … “all for one and one for all” … Rah! Rah! Frickin’ Rah!

That rah-rah crap can bite me.

Motivation comes from inside of you. And I’m still trying to get everything I know about the subject down to a manageable length—but I guess I’d better say right now that Motivation is not going to be a perky, useless pep talk where I blow smoke up your shorts and tell you that all you have to do to get motivated is to pin a Photoshopped picture of yourself holding a bound copy of your NYT bestseller in front of your computer.

This in a complete course. And like the rest of my courses, it will demand that you learn things about yourself you didn’t know, that you expend real effort into uncovering your motivators, and that you actually use the techniques I include.

I paid a helluva price for my motivation. (The story behind that price is part of the graduate bonus for Think Sideways.) My hope is that the course will show you how to get the same fire in your belly for far less cost.

At this point, it looks like it’ll be another week before first draft hits Think Sideways, and about a month before the finished version is available in the shop. I’ve been working hard, and working steadily. There’s just an awful lot to cover.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

29 comments… add one
  • Belle Jul 31, 2009 @ 11:07

    Just posting to see if I get the “awaiting moderation” thing again.

    • Shawn Jul 31, 2009 @ 17:05

      I keep getting that and wondering if something in my words is kind of shifty.

  • Belle Jul 31, 2009 @ 11:07

    Just looking to see if I get the “awaiting moderation” thing again.

  • Ieva Jul 31, 2009 @ 1:08

    You got me thinking here, on why do I keep producing words at a steady rate lately.

    Hmmm.
    Besides that I like it.

  • Red_Dot Jul 30, 2009 @ 23:26

    325 words today after two days with-out words. Yesterday was jury duty. Today was work, get rooms in vegas for Oct. U2 concert, and a photo shoot for my friend’s old Rambler. All in all a productive day, going to try and write tomorrow on my day off at fav coffee house tomorrow. I have one friend who wants to meet with me every Thursday for our own little book club.

  • TimK Jul 30, 2009 @ 23:12

    I’m chuckling here, because during my years in software development, I’ve also had to deal with plenty of this pseudo-motivational gobbledegook. We never did the all-stand-up–all-sit-down thing, but a Dilbert-cube dweller commonly must bear with so-called “team-building exercises,” motivational posters and slogans, and other nonsensical crap, all in an attempt to make up for the fact that the corporation itself goes out of its way to sabotage any real teamwork and motivation. Oy vey!

    In fact, decades ago Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister wrote a now-classic book, Peopleware, detailing the problem of working environment in software-development shops, including motivational and teamwork problems, and exactly what can be done to address these problems. In fact, Peopleware is all about productivity, which in software development is oh so closely tied to motivation. Today, however, many SD departments still persist in the same sort of nonsense DeMarco and Lister wrote about 20-something years ago.

    So as a veteran software-developer-turned-author-because-he-got-sick-of-all-that-jazz, for whom motivation is a key issue, I hope you’ll forgive me for a few nervous giggles at the humorous jabs you make at the corporate-drone ideas of “teamwork” and “motivation.” 🙂

    -TimK

  • SCBrazil Jul 30, 2009 @ 22:15

    Jeez,
    It looks like I’m gonna have to throw away the photoshopped inkjet print of me and my book AND change my day-time profession.
    I thought you all loved my motivational “hoo haaas” in unison.
    Did any of you ever do the ‘turn over the blanket without stepping off it’ group dynamic? It’s kind of a pre-digital game of Twister. That usually gets people LAUGHING together on a Monday morning. The guys who hire me (your boss) never let me apply it though. Too sober minded I guess.
    Your loss, unfortunately.

    Writing front. Major overhaul tonight. My MC just aged 30 years. The story came to me as a book my long-distance (but ever with me) sons would want to read but the MC is just so damn complicated, he could only be an adult.
    I spent the night (re)discovering what he learns from all the stuff he’s going to live through.

    • Dawn K. Jul 31, 2009 @ 6:36

      I’ve been to a few motivational seminars that motivated me for the day or the week. Inevitably the problem was they usually were meant to make me thrilled about a job that simply did not thrill me, so it was all fake.

      “You want to get out there and sell phone services!”

      “Yay, phone services!” (Not really, I mean who in their right mind really gets excited about selling phone services. Well, maybe someone does…)

      “Your sales will be great this month and your team will win this fantastic prize!”

      “Yes we will!” (Wait a minute, that’s bubble bath. I get some every Christmas from my Step-Mother. Why is this so exciting again?)

      “Go! Go! Go!” Off we would all go. The problem being once we got out to our desks the job was back and it was a drag. I sort of feel sorry for the people who were supposed to motivate us. I mean how do you motivate anyone to do something that gets them hung up on or lectured or yelled at 80% of the time?

      It isn’t always the people motivating that are the problem. If the job is unpleasant, or the boss impossible, or the motivational techniques have nothing to do with the work itself the link is broken. Most of all, if the people in the meeting don’t want to be motivated they won’t.

      I think the internal self has to be involved in any true motivation. I’m just not 100% certain how to involve it.

      • TimK Jul 31, 2009 @ 10:27

        Dawn, that’s really inspiring. I mean, literally, it inspired an idea for a blog post. Would you mind if I quoted the bulk of your comment on my blog?

        -TimK

        • Dawn K. Jul 31, 2009 @ 10:46

          Help yourself! Would you be willing to give me a link to your blog so I can read? 😉

          • Dawn K. Jul 31, 2009 @ 10:49

            So, I clicked on your name and found your blog. Never mind that link request. 😀

  • Roo Jul 30, 2009 @ 21:31

    Got to love a mentor who quotes from “Scrooged”. – “There is no I in T-E-A-M!”

    “We KNOW why we’re here. Do you?” Pretty much, this.

    “That rah-rah crap can bite me.” *lolol*

    I’m going to count it as a good sign, even if the module has yet to be completed, that this post went up today.
    I’m at 4x word quota but still cranking, trying to finish the whole chapter tonight while there’s still peace enough to think.

    (Does anyone else feel sometimes that there’s just no controlling the mind??)

    • PolarBear Jul 30, 2009 @ 21:41

      (Does anyone else feel sometimes that there’s just no controlling the mind??)

      Why would you want to?

  • Elise Jul 30, 2009 @ 21:28

    You don’t have to convince me about those meetings. I spent too much time in them last year, hearing about how “we” were going to make things better in the future and how “we” would be stronger because of this, knowing all along “they” were lying and that “I” would be out of a job when all was said and done.

    I think my motivation changed when I learned from Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture) to look at things differently.

    “The brick walls are there for a reason,” he said during his lecture. “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”

  • Nancy Jul 30, 2009 @ 21:07

    Having sat through many corporate “team building” initiatives, whatever you have to say will be a breath of fresh air. At the very least I know I won’t be wanting to drive sharpened pencils through my skull.

    Seriously, though, can’t wait for it! Your courses are nothing short of magic!

    Now… to go motivate myself to write the next scene. It is sooooo not calling my name. THAT chanting that you hear would be coming from the freezer — and the carton of pistachio almond ice cream waiting within…

    • Roo Jul 30, 2009 @ 21:27

      How about the ice cream as reward for finishing the next scene? 😀

      (Thanks so much for the cheerlead yesterday, Nancy – I really appreciate it, since I’m still pedal to the metal today.)

      • Nancy Jul 30, 2009 @ 22:56

        You’re very welcome. And yeah, I’m headed to the freezer now!

  • djmills Jul 30, 2009 @ 21:05

    Holly, meetings like you described are for anyone who has reached their level of incompetentence, not the rest of us who are motivated because we love what we do and bounce out of bed each day to do it; whether “it” is writing programs, acting on stage, painting pictures, managing a multi-mill business or whatever makes our hearts sing each morning, knowing we have been blessed with one more day to do what we love.

  • PolarBear Jul 30, 2009 @ 20:04

    Remember “Stand up, sit down, fight! fight! fight!” I thought so. That’s how people are indoctrinated into it.

    Then there’s the “Boy are we enthusiastic” chant/roar the military recruiter trainees are required to yell whenever they return from a break and at the beginning and end of each class day. We mocked it in the technical training instructor course (held in the same building). That was over 20 years ago — don’t know if the same method is employed.

    By the time OTS rolled around, I was openly not thrilled or motivated by such tactics. I guess that should have clued me into to why I had problems…

    Hubby and I actively avoid restaurants with the practice of running through the entire restaurant singing the happy birthday crud whenever someone is celebrating a birthday there. We tried to eat at Joe’s Crack Shack (just one example — there are many more) one night several years ago and couldn’t hear ourselves think for the raucous chanting — they must have had a half dozen birthdays in the short time we were there. We haven’t been back since.

    But I know you’re not talking about THOSE kinds of motivation. So much better.

  • shawna Jul 30, 2009 @ 19:06

    I hate wandering into stores when they’ve having one of their happy crappy meetings… there’s a local place here that I wouldn’t mind working at part-time, instead of where I am… EXCEPT for those stupid meetings. No way, no how, not when I’m mortified to just be IN the store during one… I couldn’t handle having to be a part of one.

  • ceecee Jul 30, 2009 @ 18:42

    Those kinds of meetings are only trumped by one I attended, in which the leader of the meeting handed out a piece of paper to each of us and proceeded to read its contents aloud to us. The “best” part? It was a meeting of college professors.
    And yep, I think you can only get motivated when YOU CHOOSE to get motivated. I learned that the hard way and my head still hurts and that wall has many round dents in it. But I get it, now.
    Anyway! I wrote 1,186 words today. Fun to introduce my villain!

  • Lucca Jul 30, 2009 @ 18:10

    I had to learn lots of things the hard way, because I chose to be someone my family and my close friends do not felt comfortable with. Now, they accept me for who I am, because I accept myself for who I really am. I went through lots of “ugly duckling moments” to get to my “swan time”.

    Now I’m a writer, just because I always dreamt of being one, because I’m a lot better in words than in person, like writing is some sort of superpower I have and could not “clarkentit” anymore.

    Motivation, for me at least, is looking back and feel proud of where I am today. At the same time is also glancing ahead and feeling the thrill of things to come; not easy, no security involved, lot of butterflies in my gut…

    Motivation is looking at all the bruises and scars and smile because I took all the punches and moved forward.

    Motivation for me is knowing I can do it, and go for it like a mad dog unleashed from Hell.

    I don’t know where or how my book is going to end, but in the meantime I’m having a blast writing it, full throttle.

  • Shawn Jul 30, 2009 @ 17:29

    I’ve become convinced that you can’t motivate people that can’t motivate themselves. You can’t lead people that refuse to be lead. And, “building your team” is best done during the hiring phase. I have experience with supposed professional people who are incompetent to do the job for which they are hired and either can’t recognize that or don’t care to take the necessary steps to improve. No amount of team building activities, no amount of process improvement initiatives, will cause a group of these people to gel into a team. I have real experience with teams. Those teams were full of self-motivated people who cared about the work they did. They believed it had importance separate and apart from themselves. Those teams spoiled me. Now I just work in a group.

  • Andre C. Jul 30, 2009 @ 16:09

    Hey Holly, I’ve been kind of lurking on your blog for a while, but this post had me laughing my head off and I had to reply. This reminds me of when I was a kid in Junior High pep-rallies. God, I hated that stuff–how everybody was supposed to get into a frothing frenzy to show “team spirit” for completely artificial and arbitrary teams, or for the school itself.

    I suppose I’ve never been motivated very well–I haven’t updated my blog in months, for example–but one thing is certain; no one is going to be able to do something (like writing) from the heart unless they find the motivation within. All that motivation-by-morons stuff is too shallow to lead anywhere worthwhile.

  • Lisa R Jul 30, 2009 @ 15:33

    Oh, Holly, you had me rolling on your thought of the typical motivating workshops we have to sit through. I try to be so open minded when I am forced to go to them. My thoughts are give me this time off to get things done at home and I will be more motivated to work here! I also thought of my husband. He hates them as much as it sounds like you do. I might just have to have him take your course when it is done.

  • Dawn K. Jul 30, 2009 @ 15:18

    Have been facing major motivational issues today. I often wonder if I build the fences to challenge myself or something. I’m really looking forward to this module and while I understand the need to cut it down I keep thinking no, don’t cut it, there might be something I NEED in there. Best of luck in your struggle to find that manageable length and thank you for all of the tools you offer us.

    • Debora Jul 31, 2009 @ 8:34

      Dawn, I’m with you. I am really looking forward to this module, too, and hope Holly doesn’t cut it down too much. You said everything I wanted to say, only better.

      Really looking forward to it!

  • Faith Jul 30, 2009 @ 14:30

    This is one module I desperately need. Looking forward to it, and to being pushed beyond comfortable boundaries.

  • Minze Jul 30, 2009 @ 14:02

    I’m looking forward to it.

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