Motivating yourself in these strange times, by Michele Weber Hurwitz

To say we're living in a strange, new normal is the understatement of 2020. This month on the blog, we're talking about motivation, and I freely admit, I don't have much these days! Many of the old, proven strategies -- set goals, find a dedicated writing space, commit to a regular time, try writing prompts when stuck -- just aren't working the way they used to.

My goals don't seem as clear, my writing space has changed with two family members also working at home, and my writing time? What was that again?

But I have found a few silver linings in this dark cloud we're all collectively under, and they are helping to nurture my brain and soul, with the hope that one day, I'll feel motivated again. They are three simple things -- finding peace and joy in nature, taking breaks from news and social media, and finding something good in every day. 

Walking or biking along the forest preserve paths where I live in Illinois has been restorative and has definitely lifted my spirits. I tuck a small notebook in my pocket and stop to jot a few words when inspiration strikes, even if they're just random thoughts that will never be part of a story.

Early in the pandemic, I was addicted to the endless news cycle and checked the apps on my phone numerous times a day. I realized that was making me a nervous wreck, so I lessened how much I read the news. And social media...there are times the noise and chatter are too overwhelming, so I've also reduced the amount of time I spend on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This has cleared space for more positive, hopefully soon-to-be productive thoughts.

Finding something good and happy is easy, because all it takes is noticing. There's an older woman in my neighborhood who walks every day. She's very hunched over, and can barely lift her head, but she's outside, pushing her walker over the bumps in the sidewalk and inching along. I said hello the other day and introduced myself. The few shared words warmed my heart, and I hope, hers.

I've been noticing things more than I used to, which I've read so many of us are doing, like ordinary parts of the world are suddenly more present. The intricate, fascinating way a bird's nest is constructed. How the wind sways the wildflowers in back of my house and how they always stand up straight again. Raindrops sliding down a window pane. The mesmerizing flight of a hummingbird.

If you're struggling with motivation too, my advice is to let it be right now. Put down your phone, get outside, and notice. That's the work of a writer too.

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of five middle grade novels, from Random House and Simon & Schuster. Find her online at