Tag Archives: motivation

Playful Professionalism

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 14 & 15

Half-time = time for a pie and a hot-dog, and a revision – or rather…

Half-time watering, the Madejski Stadium - geograph.org.uk - 994437

…half-time watering 😉

For more than a week, this blog post title has been going through my head. That it didn’t make it into an article has got nothing to do with research and the often tedious task of finding real-life examples, but a lot with making my mind up…

…and after having made it through the Slump Swamp once again, I’m more convinced than ever that Playful Professionalism is not only possible, but the way to go.

Maybe you, too, know one of those “Playful Professionals” who don’t call their work “work”? Who enjoy what they are doing, even if it’s for a living? Who come out of the drag-or-drop phases of their jobs or projects more motivated than before?

What is considered “professional” is most of all a question of definition; here mine:

Professionalism is not limited to money-making activities, nor a hollow etiquette ritual following step-by-step instructions on “How not to horrify your customers”. It is an attitude encompassing whatever I can do to provide best service, paid for or not, and if it requires me moving beyond my likes and dislikes of the moment then I’ll do it.

Often enough though, I perceive and react to professionalism as if it were a set of rules engraved in granite – shoulds and musts which activate my Inner Terrier, who is quite the opposite of an Inner Schweinehund and starts digging deep tunnels under ground. My struggle with the spelling of the word stubbornness was just a small indication of that.

Playfulness however pulls me up and lifts me onto a different level, lets me explore the realms of non-thought and inspiration while distracting the terrier with a toy.

My conclusion: Pure, serious professionalism sure helps to get things done when the going is rough, but playfulness ensures that I’ve got and replenish the life energy to do so.

Coping with change – part 2

I had three wake-up comments these past two days (thank you all!) which made me look at what I didn’t want to know: I’ve allowed my terrier to take over, again…

My posts of the past two weeks actually show clearly where the problem is: one blog post a day, on which the terrier insisted. (Trisha, my novel is shouting AND doing a breakdance in front of me…) I do like blogging – I’m so happy about having met so many wonderful people through this blog – but those of you who followed from the beginning will remember that I had this issue (with my terrier) before.

I had arrived at an enjoyable and manageable two posts per week, and then came NaNoWriMo and my terrier pushed and nagged at me, making me feel guilty and obliged, provoking me with “You whimp…talking about exploring your boundaries, and avoiding the real challenge…”

Calling me whimp… That Kentucky-fried brontosauros leg should keep my hot-dog busy and quiet for a while – and I’m going to spend my early mornings on the island of “Magnifica’.

Official statement: For the second half of November, I’m waving the White Flag Of Surrender regarding the post-a-day, and focus on writing fiction.

I apologise to all  readers of this blog (and especially the NaNoWriters) who expected more tips and tools on a daily basis – I hope you find that you’re actually doing what you wanted to do in the first place.

What has your mid-month or mid-NaNoWriMo revision revealed about your novel and the process, or about new habits – or yourself?


PS: Apart from the comment notifications with the three wake-up calls there was another, related, message in my email inbox, from Glen Allsopp (ViperChill.com), whose informative and insightful blog posts I look forward to. Glen’s newest post covers the whole gamut of procrastination & habits, and purpose, process & results.

“The Post on Productivity I Wish Someone Else Had Written” is definitely the longest blog post I’ve ever read – and enjoyed all the way to the last full-stop. And: Thank you, Glen, for investing so much time and energy in research and writing! 🙂


“There is not a productivity method in the world that can help people as much as they can help themselves.

That’s it. Nothing too flash or (admittedly) interesting. It probably doesn’t make you very excited for the rest of this article either, so let’s hype it up a little. I elaborated on how I came to this conclusion with a friend and he sent me this email a few days later: 


And now, if you’re interested, I’ll elaborate on it for you.”

“If you just kind of want it, don’t expect anything more then just kind of wanted it results.”

My word count Days 14 & 15: blog: 1086 – novel: 0

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Coping With Change

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 11

Huh, had I thought my spontaneous commitment to a post-a-day would turn me into a prolific blogger, I’d need to think again (and let’s not mention the still more or less fictitious 25k).

Two days ago, my brain went on strike. The best I could do was to upload one of my emergency posts: Why?

Yesterday, after having written a longer comment (a tip for learning a foreign language), life took over…

… and I admit I was about to skip this post as well, when I realized that I could do exactly what I do with writing: Mark The Gap or problem for revision – and go on as I feel appropriate right now.

What I intended to do

In October already I took notes on my blog post for 11th November, to post on the 10th: Remembrance/Veterans Day, A Minute For Peace, and in some parts of Germany the official beginning of the German Carnival Season (Why in November, when carnival marks the beginning of lent? Well, you need a few months to organise the fun, of course…). I was looking forward to the challenge of linking these topics, but not so much to the research involved (as I wantedthe article to be).

In case you’re curious how the carnival fits in with war and peace, here a few of my  bullet points:

  • “carne vale” = “good bye, meat” = the beginning of the spring fast, a physical and spiritual cleansing (“detox”, in modern English)
  • driving away the evil winter spirits by going over the top (the Basler Fasnacht (“fast night” = “Eve of the Fast”)
  • to minimize going over the top, carnival is usually organized in troops, with floats or without, and at least in Germany, Switzerland and Austria occasionally in army-inspired uniforms, (some dating back, as far as I remember, to the times of Napoleon Bonaparte, e.g.  Rheinish Carnival in Cologne)
  • conclusions??

[This represents the gap – to be filled in next year, maybe…]

Schränz-Gritte, Carnival of Basel / Switzerland

Carnival in Basel/Switzerland - Image via Wikipedia

What you get instead

…is a real-life, real-time example of how I write…and how I strive to live: adapting to internal and external change – not by simply caving in, neither by letting myself being pushed around by shoulds and musts, nor by giving up, and not any more by beating myself up, but by choosing how to go on now, “after the fact”, and staying open for revision, sooner or later.

“Commitment”, “self-discipline”, “pushing through the barrier” are great helpers – as long as you like them and believe in their value. After almost 40 years of allowing them to get the better of me (and having developed a distinct aversion, not to say allergy, against pressure) I have, for the past 10 years, turned from struggle, building up resentment, self-punishment, self-reward  and the “that’s how it is -there’s nothing I can do about it” of the 16 basic desires connected with intrinsic motivation:

  • If I don’t like it, I can choose again (that is I stop to ask myself what learned from this experience, then let go and move on)
  • If it’s one of those things where I feel “I haven’t got a choice” (there always is one alternative: “to do or not to do”) I go with whatever leads me towards the life I want to live – if I still don’t like it, hard luck, I’ll do it anyway
  • The result is the reward – the only one and the best one
  • I choose consciously which desires I give in to – or not

Instead of fighting or cajoling my Inner Schweinehund* (and wasting a lot of money on sausages) I open the gates and let him run wherever he wants, and get on with what I want to do NOW 🙂

By the way, embracing change get’s a lot easier with practice – and can even turn into fun 😉


*In German, referring to someone as a Schwein or Sau (female pig) can mean that person is externally dirty, but also (perhaps even more so) dirty-minded, foul, mean, lazy.

The Schweinehund was originally simply a dog that guarded the pigs = “pig”herd dog. During the 19th century, “Schweinehund” found it’s way into student’s language as an insult, referring to someone who is lazy and/or a coward.

Der innere Schweinehund would be that part of us that keeps saying “nah” or “later” and finding or making up excuses…

My word count Day 11: blog posts: 860 – novel: a big Zero – with : for eyes and a D for a grin 😀

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂 – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either 😉

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The Gap

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 10

[to be filled during  revision]


Update: Guess what appeared on my screen after I clicked “publish”:

“This is your 57th published post. Brilliant! This post has 69 words.”

Always look at the bright side of life… 😉

My word count Day 9: blog: around 0, not counting titles and links – novel: 0

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂 – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either 😉

Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only


NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 9

…any  answers (apart from “42”) are very welcome…


Maria (still searching for the rest of the question…)

My word count Day 8: blog: 249 – novel: 0

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂 – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either 😉

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Learning From The Apes | On Language, Writing and Motivation

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 8

Are you ready for an inspirational break?

“…these apes have language. It’s a geometric language…She’s also saying the name of that, with her voice.”

“We found that the most important thing for permitting Bonobos to acquire language is not to teach them. It’s simply to use language around them, because the driving force in language acquisition is to understand what others that are important to you, are saying to you. Once you have that capacity, the ability to produce language comes rather naturally and rather freely. So we want to create an environment in which Bonobos like all of the individuals with whom they are interacting. We want to create an environment in which they have fun, and an environment in which the others are meaningful individuals for them.

No need to drive yourself – let yourself be driven: not by other people’s opinion, should’s or dont’s, but by what is important to YOU.

Happy procrastination 😉


My word count Day 7: blog: 0 – novel: 0

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂 – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either 😉

Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only.