Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Taking Back What's Lost

A long time ago, I used to do lots of creative things, mostly as a teenager. I used to write, I used to act, I used to sing. I once directed a public performance of a play I wrote. Before all that, I used to draw, and I played instruments, the saxophone and the violin. I was good at some of it, and bad at, well, most of it. Either way, these are things that I have mostly lost. College left me without a lot of free time or energy, and grad school had all that plus the "feature" of making writing into an abominable chore instead of something I enjoyed. My creative output today is mostly in the software I write, or in blog posts, or in sandbox-style video games like Dwarf Fortress.

I've decided to try to reverse course a bit. I've done a bit of writing (nothing terrific so far), and I'm taking violin lessons again. It's funny how much muscle memory remains after almost twenty years. I've put a fair chunk of money into it - like with the gym, I find that being able to say, "I've paid for it, I might as well put it to use" is a remarkably good motivator. So for now I get to spend a half hour or so per day (about all my wrists can stand) making the cats flee, but I really do feel like I'm picking it up quickly this time around. Being able to still (sort of) read music helps a lot, as does having the cash to pick up things I need (shoulder rests, rosin, tuners, etc) without having to think too hard about it.

This all makes me wonder. If expenditure is a motivation for me such that I really am going to the gym regularly and practicing an instrument regularly, how on earth do I motivate myself to write more?


  1. One idea I read about a few months ago involves money, but perhaps not in the same way. It goes like this -- you promise that unless you fulfill some goal (e.g. x words per week) you will donate $y to a cause you dislike, and you enlist a friend to hold you to your word. It works well if said friend actually supports that cause (more motivation for them to play along).

    So, for instance, you could write out a whole bunch of checks payable to Michael Moore, and leave them in the care of someone you know and trust who is a fan (there must be *someone*) with the instruction to put one in the mail each week you don't meet your goal.

  2. I'm not averse to spending money, just to wasting it.