My motivation has always been erratic. I’ve seen almost entire years go by without producing much of consequence. But it’s important to understand that this is my own fault - as much as I might complain about being unmotivated, motivation is only a conflict between short term and long term goals. As much as it might be easier and more immediately rewarding tonight for me to buy a bottle of Scotch and sit down to a Die Hard marathon than to produce a new video or article, the latter is much more rewarding in the long run. And although it’s important to buy a bottle of Scotch and sit down to a Die Hard marathon now and then, doing it too often just becomes an excuse to avoid going to the effort to make the most of your life.
My motivation is better now that I have deadlines. Some people work better without deadlines. I am not one of those people. If you give me a project and tell me to finish it whenever, it will likely never get done. A solid deadline, for me, inspires results. It’s not just the fact that my editor will yell at me if I miss a deadline (and he will, and rightfully) but somehow the reality of an end date forces me to perform. And I find, I don’t just perform on the project that actually has a deadline - I’ve been working on a book lately, and I’ve been more productive in writing my book since Cracked started giving me regular deadlines than before, even though the book itself has no deadline. I don’t know why. It seems constant work - any work - has a kind of motivational effect on ALL my work at the same time.
For example, the least productive time in my entire life was when I was unemployed, living at home, and had effectively no responsibility toward anyone. Many would consider this a writer’s dream - with no other obligations, I should be able to focus 100% of my life on my work. But that isn’t the case. Instead, I stagnate. I only find motivation under pressure - paradoxically, when I have less time to work on my own projects.
Now that I have more responsibility every day, I occasionally wish for the time when I had no deadlines, no job, no rent, and no responsibility. But I know that it’s a foolish thing to wish for, because I know that I would spend that time waking up at 1pm every day, surfing the web for a few hours in my underwear, and then go back to bed having accomplished nothing for weeks on end. These days, I have so little time to dedicate to my personal projects, but I can rejoice in the fact that this means that they will get done.