Shelley Widhalm

The Frustration-Motivation Question

In Artists, Frustration, Motivation, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on December 4, 2011 at 7:00 am

The opposite of motivation, I believe, is frustration.  

As a writer (I wrote a couple of novels and hundreds of poems), I find it frustrating that I keep writing and writing and am not published, but I can’t fathom the idea of stopping. I am motivated to write, but on the flip side of that, I’m frustrated that what I write gets sucked into a big vacuum of “whatever.”

I’m not trying to engage in self pity.

Instead, I want to explore the word’s meaning. Frustration is the result of encountering obstacles to a goal or a project. It can be a feeling of being stuck, of not getting anywhere no matter what you try to do – a feeling that left unresolved can crystallize into anger.

Motivation, on the other hand, is the desire to do something and the drive to carry out a goal. It is what causes you to act.

How can you turn frustration into motivation?

First, remember your original goal or what you want to accomplish.

Keep track of the steps you take toward that goal, taking credit for each accomplishment.

And realize that setbacks will happen.

I can write all of this off the top of my head, but I still let frustration come into my day.

For instance, I have to work a regular job and can’t spend the time I want to, when I want to and how I want on my art. I want to pick up my bags and travel all over, gathering experiences to craft into words.

But if I stop to think about it, my desires are unrealistic. It’s expecting life on a silver platter.

Artists have to earn their place; otherwise, how will they encounter the angst they need to produce the beauty that lifts off the wing of its opposite, that of pain? If artists are given it all, how can they be motivated to explore the depths of difficulty instead of riding through the easy?

Frustration, I think, keeps me propelled onward as I write out my soul in the hope that someone somewhere will listen. Motivation does the same thing, so that I have to fight to keep both emotions in balance.

I need the frustration, or the dark, to experience the lighter, happier side of motivation – it’s like dancing, singing, living and being free just because I have words to take me there.

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