There is not much to tell you about this week: exams started on Monday – the first of the three test series (plus one pre-board examination) of this session. I’ve been working hard, but not as hard as I’d expected to. Motivation failed me repeatedly this week. So even though I’ve had productive days, they weren’t really satisfactory.
This week I tried something new. Tired of studying all day long, I closed my textbooks latest by 8 pm and then took my time deciding what to write for the day. When more than a year ago I didn’t have many ideas, I gathered a lot of writing and journaling prompts. I use the latter a lot on days when my mind is completely empty and anything I think of writing seems to have been done before. Often, even the times when I use a prompt, it fails to spark an idea because I’ve dealt with that particular topic in another story or blog post already. I seemed to be stuck in a circle, writing the same thing over and over, at least when it came to nonfiction. As for fiction, I have ideas, but not as frequently, and some need to be carved and smoothed and polished. In other words, they require a lot of hard work, which right now, with my busy schedule, I really can’t put into it.
But this week I had at least two hours before bed to write, unlike on school days, where I have only one hour, sometimes even less. So I went through my prompts – fiction and nonfiction prompts collected from weeks of the Poets & Writers newsletter. Many of them have the caption “today” or “today’s topic” or something like that, but I never got around to using those prompts. The best thing about these prompts is that they’re very ambiguous. They don’t give you a specific character or a very specific situation. It’s just a basic theme or a what if? question, so I have the satisfaction of using them without feeling like I’m stealing other people’s ideas. Most of the prompts Poets & Writers shares are inspired by current events or random news. When you read a couple of them, you will get an idea how you can make the newspaper a storehouse of inspiration.
So I chose a topic and decided to write on it, let my mind free without thinking whether or not the story would be useful in the future. I generally avoided these prompts out of laziness. I didn’t want to stretch my creative muscles or go over ideas in my mind, thinking about what ifs and hows. I expected most days that the words would come to me somehow, that I’ll definitely find something to write about. – a dream, not reality. But if not for the entire week, at least for a couple of days, I worked my mind. If not impressed by my work, at least I had the satisfaction of having tried, because I did something with it rather than putting it off for some other day.
The following two days I had too much to revise and hence again a lot less time to write, so I compromised and wrote complete shit – pieces that read more like diary entries or random sentences of absolute nonsense strung together until they formed a 750-word whole. Perhaps the lesson I learned is that I should go over ideas, allow myself to think, give my writing more time, and most importantly, revise my lessons on time so I don’t have a lot to do on the day before the exam. Trying something always teaches you something.
Or should I say, if you look for it, you will always find a lesson in everything. For example, this week I realized that no matter how much I liked being productive, it’s not easy to stay motivated all the time. You might have the motivation to decide to do something, but you might not have the motivation to actually do that thing. I knew I had to study, I knew I had to live up to my teachers’ expectations, I knew I could not afford to disappoint either my teachers or myself. But I had done the mistake of putting off revision until the end. I had a short to-do list that consisted of big tasks. A stitch in time saves nine.
After every exam, I knew I had to get home and sit at my table and study, but my body dragged me to the bed instead. I’ve been feeling sleepy a lot more lately – I usually avoid taking a nap in the afternoon because then it doesn’t let me sleep at night and I have a headache to compliment my temporary amnesia. But this week I’ve been very tired – studying for and giving three exams of hundred marks each. Next week I have two – one on Monday and one on Friday, which means I’ll be just as busy as this week, even though I’d have one less subject to tackle.
My unpreparedness is to blame – but sometimes I’ve managed to find the motivation to do a lot of work in a short time. However, at present, I don’t seem to find it anywhere. It’s hard to understand motivation – do you have it? Do you find it? Does it find you, or does it come and go on its own? If motivation had a fixed nature, had it been something much less transient, or perhaps something tangible, it would’ve been a lot easier to deal with work. But unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Though I hope I would figure it out, or at least have some of it, because I’m going to need a lot of it in the coming week.
I wish, though, that you have a nice weekend, and a productive week ahead!
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London