I started and threw away several posts today, mostly because I just didn't have anything worth saying, but felt an obligation to write . . . well, something. It was strange to have this sense of needing to come up with something but not really knowing why, and then not having the motivation to force myself to create something to fill some sort of void I'd arbitrarily created.
Then, while I was doing my work for Netscape around the middle of the day, I came across Steel's formula:
Steel's formula, called the Temporal Motivation Theory, calculates procrastination like Albert Einstein's equation for energy, E=MC2. It factors the person's expectancy for succeeding at a given task (E) or self-confidence; the value of completing the task (V); its immediacy or availability (Gamma); and the person's sensitivity to delay (D) to come up with the desirability of the task (Utility).Steel's formula (which poetically took ten years to develop) explains why people procrastinate. In other words, it's a formula for procrastination.
My expectancy for succeeding (E) was very low, because I had little motivation to create something worthwhile. The value for completing the task (V) was equally low, because writing something lame doesn't bring with it the satisfaction of interesting comments and discussion, and that lead to a desirability of the task (Utility) at about 0. Strangely, my sensitivity to delay (D) was very high, but those factors all together just lead to a creative paralysis. So I put all those things through the old Interocitor and discovered something very similar to a T-shirt I saw last year:
Top Ten Reasons to Procrastinate:It's a strange feeling for me, not readily finding any stories to tell and lacking the motivation to really dig deeply to find something, but I did figure something out in all of this: to increase my (E), from which all other values will inevitably increase, I need to take the counter-intuitive step of not forcing something to come out of my brains, when my brains aren't ready to give something up. Some days, it's okay (and important) to work a little bit in the morning, and then take it easy. If I'm so busy working to make deadlines, that's all I'll have to write about, and that is boring. If I don't heed this lesson, I run the very real and dangerous risk of getting overwhelmed and burned out.
Do any of the other writers out there ever feel this way? Like you really want to create something, and in fact you need to create something, but you just can't motivate yourself to get it done? Is that writer's block? Because it's annoying as hell.