Twenty days. Twenty essays. Today is the last day of Writual, publishing a 250-300 word essay every weekday in April. This was a public challenge with my writing group to continue a writing practice after Write of Passage. I thought the point would be to get out of my comfort zone by forcing me to write more, to come up with twenty ideas, and to write under a deadline.
It seems silly to use public accountability as motivation. Does anyone really care if I complete this challenge or not? Would it really make a difference to me if I did? Shouldn’t I be intrinsically motivated? But it was good motivation. I wanted to keep the streak alive. And it turned out to be fun. During the first weekend break, it felt weird not doing it.
This makes me wonder, can you be intrinsically motivated when you first start something? When I learned how to paddleboard it was tough, I fell in the water a lot. Often, I didn’t feel like going because a whole session would be two to three hours. Just to get to the boathouse was a forty-five minute bus ride. But as I got better, I started looking for reasons to go instead of reasons not to. The reason I stuck it out in the beginning is I got a package of lessons for a really good price and I’m a sucker for sunk costs. I guess intrinsic motivation doesn’t come out of nowhere. Sometimes you need extrinsic motivation to try something long enough to find intrinsic motivation.
So what did I learn from Writual? Things are easier than you think. Prioritizing gives you time. It doesn’t take much to say a lot.
One of the best realizations was that all the little thoughts I have during the day are useful. Writing them down connects them to other ideas or lets them develop. Thoughts are no longer something that sound interesting that I forget five minutes later. No thought is too little to be unimportant.