I’ve been trying to come up with a blog post for about three weeks and so far, nothing good has come to mind, so I thought I would talk about maintenance.
Maintenance is the not at all sexy stuff we do to keep things running – it’s brushing your teeth, or eating healthy or exercising (for the body), cleaning the toilet or mopping the floors, it’s practicing scales and exercises (for music), it’s showing up to write even if you don’t feel like it.
There is an argument to be made that motivation follows action, and not the other way around. One must start doing something to feel like doing it. In a way it helps, because you don’t have to wait until you feel like something to get started, but it also means I have to start before I even feel like it, which can be hard sometimes, especially if things are tough for any reason.
This week I’ve worked on my manuscript a couple of times, I’ve done piano practice most days, I’ve done yoga or a walk or the gym and in most cases I didn’t feel like it. I’m not sure if it’s winter inertia, or I’m having a particularly low energy week, but life feels hard. Getting up for work when it’s under 10˚ C is probably not helping.
Is being an adult progressively adding more maintenance tasks to your list to feel vaguely normal? In my memory I didn’t worry so much about stuff when I was younger, but maybe I’m misremembering. I feel much less fun and spontaneous – my back pain, and ankle injury and the whole pandemic thing didn’t help with that either. Maybe I’ll get back to feeling spontaneous. Maybe I’ll want to create more, rather than relying on starting an activity and hoping I’ll get into it once I’ve begun.
I had coffee with a former work colleague earlier today, though more correctly my former boss, and we had a lovely chat about life, the universe and everything (with a long detour to cults started because I recently read the Book of Revelation and wow, was that a trip, I digress). As I went back to my car to head to my exercise physiology appointment, I found I had a parking ticket. I was in a zone where I had to pay for a ticket, but I had misread the sign and assumed it was two-hour free parking, not two-hour paid parking. I was annoyed because it’s another in a long line of expenses (let’s not even get into the cost of vegetables or petrol at the moment) I have and it would have been avoidable if I’d been more careful about reading the sign. The annoyance spread through the rest of the day, something I feel might not have happened when I was younger.
I guess I’m worried I’m becoming boring and curmudgeonly and I’m not even that old! On the other hand, the world has objectively been through a very bad last couple of years, so perhaps I should give myself a bit more time to get over the trauma (and ongoing stress) of the COVID-years.
I’ve had this blog for over a decade, and I have been posting semi-regularly to it so I think I can say I’m maintaining it. Here’s to trying to find more joy in maintenance.
Chris Ringrose said:
I would say consistency is your middle name! Good point about action preceding motivation . . . as some of those writing tips say, if you commit to writing one line of a poem or two sentences of your novel, you’ll probably end up writing for an hour!
Thanks Chris! I also have a 7 minute rule; if I start something and am not into it after 7 minutes, I’m allowed to stop.