The Writer’s Journey is a column dedicated to different styles of writing and the exploration of one writer’s path to publication.

Written by Samantha House

“The act or process of motivating; the state of being motivated, having a desire or willingness to act; something that motivates, an inducement, reason, or goal.”

For some people motivation is easy to find, but others are filled with dread by the mountain looming before them.

Let’s assume that you are one of the many people who finds motivation a difficult concept to handle – after all, everyone’s been there, right? If you want to write that book, piece of poetry, or song, or possibly finish the painting that’s been sitting unfinished on your shelf for the last few months, you’ll need a healthy dose of motivation to get it done. In my quest to understand this truth in my own life, I came across a YouTube video by Mel Robbins which has actually helped me to take the concept of motivation out of the picture entirely.

Mel, a CNN commentator and motivational speaker, has a fantastic TED talk called, How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over, and in it she discusses her “five-second rule” – her key component in getting anything done. The video is roughly twenty-two minutes long (short for a TED talk), and you can watch it here.

I applied the concept to my own life, using it to “motivate” myself to practice yoga every morning. Using Mel’s five-second rule, I don’t have the chance to talk myself out of tasks I’m not especially keen on, and it’s working wonderfully, because so far, I’ve only missed one session in a two-week period. Prior to that, it was more likely that I’d have only made it to one session in the same timeframe. Plus, now I’m reaping the benefits of a stronger, more flexible body and calmer mind! Yay!

Now, how do we channel that success into a creative project? For me it starts the day before:

  1. First, I figure out what needs to be done the next day and what I’d like to get done if I have enough spare time.
  2. Second and straight away, I put writing (my creative project) in the “need” column, which means not writing is not an option.
  3. Finally, I determine what, if anything, is time sensitive (e.g. taking my daughters to a workshop), filling the gaps around them with any non-time sensitive tasks.

At its core, this really isn’t too much different than creating and keeping a schedule, but adding Mel’s five-second rule into the mix, I already know what I have planned for the day when I wake up in the morning, and I don’t even have to think about it. That means no time to talk myself out of it.

Where my writing is concerned, I have a word-count target, a time set aside to chip away at it, and I have been achieving that goal every single day. I don’t question myself or others anymore; it’s simply a part of my daily routine, and as I meet my daily goals, steadily that word count is climbing (I’m writing a book, in case you were wondering 😊).

The scheduling and five-second rule can also help you to sidestep a psychological obstacle called decision fatigue which occurs when you have made a number of decisions in a certain period of time. Because of the natural stress which comes hand-in-hand with motivation and making decisions, eventually your ability to follow through deteriorates significantly, and consequently, the choices you do make begin to suffer, steadily getting worse the longer you try.

But don’t take my word for it: try creating a routine for yourself so you have fewer decisions to make every day and won’t have to rely so heavily on motivation to meet your goals.

Do you have routines in place ? You can direct-message me on Instagram if you’d like it to remain private, or, if you don’t mind others reading it, feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear about what has worked for you!

Have a fantastic and creative day! xx

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