Motivation After Setbacks

And we’re back with another generically titled post.

This past summer I decided to start a blog. So I went ahead and bought a domain and hosting. The name? The Doystoyevsky-inspired TheBrothersKraker.  I figured my brother and I would end up using it for one thing or another; we had a couple of business ideas in the wings, including early thoughts on an OCR website and an OCR training-camp (the latter of which has actually become a reality, more on that this weekend) that we’d probably need a website for.

I wrote up 2 month’s worth of blogs, maybe 15-20 separate 1000-3000 word hot takes on things I felt needed to be discussed in the OCR community: where it was doing well, where it wasn’t, what its future held, etc. I had another 5-10 written on sports, travel, and gear reviews. We were all set to launch this spring.

Then I was robbed while in Oakland this winter. I was living out of my backpack at the time, so when it was taken I lost pretty much everything I owned. Among the stolen items was my MacBook.

Now the average intelligent person backs their documents up or uses google drive. Not me. I did the majority of my writing while on an extended road trip this fall. A lack of internet access forced me to use Word. And I never backed it up. Just like that, all my intellectual property was gone. Not only my blog, but everything I’d written over the past year. I had an e-book that was 80% done, a year of journals, and a rough draft of my baby, a full length novel.

I stumble onto snippets now and again
I stumble onto snippets now and again…

So yeah, the loss was quite devastating. And it took me until recently to finally jump back on the horse and try to recreate some of the stuff I had written up. It’s easy to work when inspired, but I was only inspired when I first had those ideas. The second time through felt like, well, work. It was exhausting.

Of course, I’m far from the first to lose my work. Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the first example that comes to mind.

Robert Louis Stevenson was the original Hunter S. Thompson. He was a freak of a writer; a coked out invalid who was capable of extraordinary feats of literary genius, albeit chiefly under the influence. But his wife was so dismayed after reading through her husband’s first draft of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that she decided to burn it to spare him the disappointment of the rejection he’d surely face from his publisher.

Upon finding the tattered remnants of his masterpiece in a fireplace, Stevenson locked himself in his room and began writing. He had only three short days before the book was due at the publishers.

He emerged 72 hours later, having completely re-written the book. During this span he averaged 10,000 words a day. That’s 600 words an hour for 18 hours/day. Sure, he had some chemical help, but that’s still insane.

I guess that what I’m saying here is that things could be worse.

Work (whether it’s a job, working out, or a hobby) is easy when you’re inspired. During these stretches motivation is hardly lacking. But holding that fervor day in and day out, setbacks and all, is an entirely different story.

You’ll notice most of my blog posts deal with motivation. I maintain a constant struggle of highs and lows, teeter-totter with stagnation and inspiration holding down opposing sides. And I’m sure that I’m not alone in this.

There are times when the ideas rush endlessly and I’ll stay up all night writing, and other occasions where I won’t do anything. Hell, sometimes I won’t even open up my emails for a week at a time. And nothing’s worse than that dread you encounter when logging into your email after ignoring it for a week.

So how to even out those highs and lows? Most advice seems to be to pick a time each day to focus on your task at hand and do nothing but that for that hour or so. Maybe it’s actually as simple of that. But I don’t have any immediate plans for trying this out.

So what does all of this mean for me? Well, my current goal is to take inspiration from Stevenson and work like my back is to the wall. After all, desperation inducing deadlines seem to be the time when people accomplish the most. It certainly worked for me (way too many times) in college.

The original point of Blue Highways wasn’t to procure a following, but rather to test out what type of writing and what topics draw the most attention.

But I’m still attempting to be more religious in updating this site until the new one launches. Also, starting this coming week, you’ll be seeing my OCR articles on a few other sites. After all, if this poorly written piece of crap gets you published by Huffington Post, then I really have no excuse for not doing more features. I’m also in the process of putting the finishing touches on that E-Book.

In the meantime, if you’re browsing the bestseller list and happen upon a historical fiction involving interstellar travel written by a “Deshawn” or “Malik” from Oakland, please do me a favor and don’t purchase it.

Updates: Week 5 of the lifting program recently ended. The last two weeks have included running. Photos will be up soon.

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