Monday motivation (or how I stay motivated during dark times)

Well, I’m writing my Monday post on Tuesday, which shows how motivated I’ve been lately.

I’m blaming it on the weather. Here in Alaska we lose over three minutes of light each day. That might not sound like a large amount but when you do the math (and I know, I know, we writers pretty much suck at math), it adds up to about a half hour of  lost light each week. So if it’s dark at 5 p.m. one week, it will be dark around 4:30 p.m. the next.

Sun setting behind the spruce trees at around 3:30 p.m. (Come back, light, please?)

This time of year is always difficult. I feel bleary-eyed and sleepy. I eat too many carbs. I become impatient and sluggish and feel like a tree sloth; I want to hang upside down and hibernate until spring.

And my writing suffers.

That’s a lie: My writing doesn’t suffer, at least not when I’m actually writing. What suffers is my motivation to write.

Which brings me to this, my biggest winter motivation, the one thing that brings me peace and acceptance, that feeds me good vibes and energy and gives me that little push to sit my ass down in my chair, poise my hands over the keyboard and write, even when I don’t want to, damn it.

May I introduce to you my Happy Light:

Hello, happiness. (And no, that’s not me dancing around with my arms flung out. It’s hard to dance in a skimpy dress in the snow.)

I picked up this little beauty in Costco last month and it was probably the smartest $50 I’ve ever spent. It’s small but puts out a cozy light. In fact, it’s beaming across the room right now, throwing rays of light into my brain, boosting my serotonin levels and filling me with feel-good endorphins.  Best of all, it’s cheaper than a therapist or writing coach.

One warning: If you have cats, beware. The light wrecks havoc on their lima-bean sized brains and it’s highly likely that they will become wild and keep you up all night, demanding that you throw cat toys across the room and chase them up and down the stairs while making growling sounds.

My cat, thinking of ways to torture me as I try to sleep.

Still, hyped-up cats are a small price to pay for writing success and I wouldn’t part with my Happy Light for anything. At least not in the winter, in Alaska, at the end of November when the solstice is still a long month away and the darkness stretches dark and vast and terrible.

Of course, other things motivate me: Good books, a long and hard run and a poem that tastes round and rich in my mouth. Ironically, the nights also motivate me, at least when I’m outside running or walking the dog in the darkness and the snow reflects the light and everything is cast in soft shadows. It’s just that there is so much darkness and for so long.

Last night we took a walk along the Coastal Trail around 10 p.m. The air was cold and our breaths fogged and the frozen inlet breathed around us and everything was hushed and still. On the way back we saw two moose down by the creek eating brush and we leaned over the bridge and watched them. They stared momentarily and resumed eating. They didn’t give a damn about us and that made me happy. I like knowing, as I sit here in my writing room late at night with my artificial light purring, that outside moose wander in a world of primitive thoughts and urges, in a landscape I’ll never fully know or see or feel. Such knowledge makes me want to write, so I suppose that I’m also motivated by moose.

Moose miss
What motivates you on those days or nights when writing seems the worst or most unattainable task in the world?

3 thoughts on “Monday motivation (or how I stay motivated during dark times)

  1. Happy Lights are the best. We don’t use them too much in Florida, but they can be a nice boost to the mood before heading off to work. We often talk about moving north and the Happy Lights will come with us. I love the idea of being inspired by moose 🙂 I think the natural landscape can be very inspiring.


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