Apathy is the Enemy of Execution
While everyone is motivated by variable factors, we need to address what happens when someone reaches a point in a project where they couldn’t care less. Apathy is a dangerous contaminant and can bring down other team members if it’s a collaborative project, otherwise it becomes another cause of “the FOREVER PROJECT” or “vaporware”. It is a sad sad thing, but motivation has to come from in, and no matter what degree of support or positive feedback is given from the outside world, a person cannot change until they are ready to change. If you try to give them a “tow the line” type of speech it falls upon deaf ears. Some people eat bowls of guilt like hearty oatmeal. It seems to be a part of their regular diet.
Usually when you get to a point of apathy, there is nothing you can do. Right? Otherwise, it wouldn’t be apathy. Wrong. If you can recognize your dispassion, you can then take the steps to revitalize your love for the project, and this will certainly spur you off to greater growth or, if nothing else, get you off the dime, and when you’re apathetic, any direction is better than no direction at all.
1. Revisit the past. Go back and look at what drew you to the project in the first place. There has to be some THING in the morass of your notes–be it an inkling of an idea sketched hurriedly upon a napkin or a song or a photograph. You’re trying to get reacquainted with your project. Consider it couple’s therapy where you and THE MUSE are hashing things out.
2. List the obstacles you need to overcome. Do you need more time in your daily life? Do you make excuses? Are you not up to the task? Do you have the fear of failure? Or, worse yet, the fear of success? Have you promised such wonderful things you feel you can never live up to your audience’s expectations? Get over it. People often have mighty aspirations and lofty goals, especially in creative endeavors, and some bite off more than they can chew. It’s better to build up the base material, and then expand it in a series of supplemental works.
3. Get over yourself. You’re nothing special. Or, you’re unique, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Heck, maybe you’re even a little bit crazier or dysfunctional. You sit about in a room NOT ONLY making this up, but you’re CREATIVE ARTIFICIAL CONSTRUCTS AND PARAMETERS within which all the things operate. While making stuff up is fun, I’m sure such pursuits are downright certifiable. Once you get past the point you’re nothing special, you can realize neither is no one else. And those bozos make stuff up. You may not like some of it or you may find bits of it sublime as though Morpheus whispered fair words and solid words into the creator’s wondrous mind as they slept. It doesn’t matter what you think, because, if you’re apathetic, you’re pretty close to pathetic. Those other guys ARE better than you, even if their stuff makes you want to gouge out your eyes with a grapefruit spoon. You know why? Because they finished. They got all the bits and pieces together and they gave it a shot. It may not have been their best shot, but they got something out the door and into the hands of the public, and we all know. It’s only when people are playing YOUR GAME is it really alive. Sure, it has a certain, shambling half-life when people get it and read it, but it’s gotta be read.
4. Dismiss distractions. Like the sirens on the jutting rocks, there are numerous things to distract you. The most dangerous is “I have this really cool OTHER idea.” She’s, mayhap, the sexiest siren of all, and it’s okay to do a little flirting–that’s healthy–but don’t crawl in bed with her. Remember, the PROJECT? You’re in a relationship already buddy. Don’t overplay the hand you got.
5. Put things in perspective. If you’ve read through the first four stages and you’re looking for some secret panacea, than I apologize. You have to get back to work. Suck it up. People do it each and every day and you have the freedom to do your thing. Think about the Egyptian protesters for a moment. They had to raise up to fight for their freedoms. The most important thing –while the center of your universe and important to you–probably pales by comparison. So if they can do that VERY HARD THING. You certainly can put some friggin’ words down on paper. Right? Write.
6. Quit beating the poor, dead horse. IF none of this gets through to you, then you should find something else to do. Maybe you should be a spokesmodel in Indonesia? I hear they’re hiring.
Getting things done is what separates the wheat from the chaff and the professional from the hobbyist. Look at it this way, if you’re happy with something in a half-formed state twitching as necrosis spreads through its innards, you’re in the latter category. If you don’t care WHAT brain you throw in the body and eagerly flip the switch to see your cadaverous man-boy shudder into life, you can count yourself among the other mad scientists at the party.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!