Ways To Stay Motivated In This Shit-Shellacked Era Of Epic Stupid

Everything is dumb right now.

From nose to tail, we have become the dumbest, saddest pig at the county fair. Historians will not refer to this period as THE DARK AGES, but rather, THE DUMB AGES. The greatest question I get, right now, is how to simply persist creating art and staying motivated and creative in this epoch of syphilitic dipshittery, so I thought I’d bop in here and try my hand at answering that.

1. Stop staring at the news and at social media. This is hard, because presently the news is a series of constantly crashing cars right outside your window. One after the next, bang, smash, crash. The symphony of shrieking metal is very, very hard to turn away from. In many eras, the news is only marginally relevant to you on a day to day basis but, to me it seems that ratio is going up, up, up. The healthcare debacle alone affects me, um, rather significantly. If I don’t have access to healthcare via health insurance, then this thing that I do gets a whole lot harder. Just the same, I gotta know to turn away from it. The news is a vampire. It’ll bleed you dry and leave you a desiccated husk on the carpet. You can look at it, but pick your times. Write or make art first, then go and stare into the unswerving gaze of Sauron himself.

2. Writing is an act of resistance. Art is an act of resistance. Shit, just living your life in the maelstrom is resistance. Here’s how you know when something is a act of resistance: would the Shitty People, the Petty Men with Axes, want you to do it? No? Then do it. They want you showing your belly. They want you to stop contributing your ideas. They want you to shut the fuck up. So, don’t. Don’t get sad. Get mad. Get fucking pissed. And then —

3. Put that piss and vinegar into the work. Pour it right in. Glug, glug, splish-splash.

4. Do some real resistance, too. Make your calls. Join a protest. Contribute some cash to an organization who will carry the fight in ways you cannot. Key point: do this after you’re done doing the thing you need to do. You know how the airlines tell you to put on your own mask first? Put on your own mask first. Make the words. Art the art. Eat that cheese. Pluck that banjo. Then when you are done for the day, get down to the acts of resistance major and minor.

5. Hey, also, just take care of yourself. These are dumb times and dumb times often call for tireless marathons of beer and donuts and naps — and definitely do those things from time to time! — but also, like, eat some fucking vegetables, get some exercise, get some rest. Trust me, I get it, pretty much every day I hit a period where I’m like, “The best thing I can do right now would be to drink whiskey until I stop recognizing the world,” but I don’t, because I have to stay sharp. I have to stay sharp to make stuff and to be ready for whatever this era of epic stupid is going to throw at me. Take care of your shit.

6. Don’t dismiss what you do. If you’re making the words dance or you’re snapping photos or drawing pictures, and you worry that what you’re doing is somehow shallow or insignificant, fuck that right in the banana-pipe. Even at the barebones level, entertainment has value. In times far worse than these, people needed to be entertained — not in a bread and circuses way, but in a way where, if you wanna regain some sanity and light in the middle of deep fuckery, then you need something fun. If you’re writing to entertain, I salute you. No shame in that. You’re awesome. Keep doing it.

7. But also don’t be afraid to go bigger. If your mode is to use the work to carry a greater message or elevate your ideas or to even just contextualize the bees and murder that are currently living in your heart, hey, do that. Do whatever you gotta. Just make stuff. It feels good. And we need you to do it.

8. Art has meaning. Obama talked about the books that made him who he was. Most world leaders are readers. There are reasons that a book like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is so popular right now — art leaves its mark, indelible and essential, and it helps us both understand what has come before, what will come again, and what’s happening right now. It gives context and inspiration. It challenges and us and can unfuck our heads — even as it sometimes fucks with our heads in equal measure.

9. Talk to others like you. Sometimes you just have to be with your people. Either to commiserate about current global shenanigans or, better yet, just to talk shop. Talking shop energizes me. The news enervates me. Find your people. And together, you find your way.

10. Remain cautiously, grimly optimistic. Optimism is hard. So fucking hard. Optimism is in itself an act of resistance. But optimism, as long as it’s not blind and naive, has value — and can inspires others to be the same. I’m not saying to simply assume that everything will be magically fine. But optimism paired with a bit of realism and a lot of effort can actually do a world of good. The world has gone wonky in the last year, but we still live in a far better time than most other times throughout history. We still have dogs and otters. We still have shitloads of ice cream. We still have options and a way out of the storm. We have art, too — ours, and others. Train your brain to look for good stuff. And even better, train your brain to look for ways to make things better — in small ways, in big ways. And then, most importantly, train your brain to make art. Think about words. Think in images. Distract yourself with your work. Be hopeful, if not about the world, then about what you can contribute to it. Make cool shit. The end.

How do you stay motivated in this cauldron of shit-soup we call a world?

(Also, thanks to everyone who came by and commented yesterday. Rest assured, the blog ain’t going anywhere, and shall remain at normal operations, probably until I die of beer and donuts.)

* * *

Also, hey, here, have this: I’ll put my Mega-Ultra-Book-Bundle on sale, 50% off with coupon code MAKECOOLSTUFF. It’s got eight writing books and two novels, so ten books for ten bucks. Go grabby grabby if you so choose.

201 comments

  • A thing I try to do is not buy into the hysteria. I depend on healthcare, too, and this nightmare crawling through the Senate is distressing. It breaks my heart to hear people I love weeping in dread of what is happening. But I try to stop and think, “What if?”

    What if the Senate somehow gets enough people to vote against their own constituents to pass it? Then it goes to the House, who has the collective IQ of a brick. What if they pass it? At some point it land on President Trumps desk. He only cares about one thing: do people love him? Only if he vetoes it. He’s as predictable as a tornado. He could do anything. What if he signs it into law?

    Then “Oh, Lordy” there will be legal challenges! Ultimately the SCOTUS will end up ruling on its Constitutionality. A long road away, several years, and at least one election that will likely change the face of Congress.

    I try not to buy into the hysteria. Keeps me sane. That, and blogs like yours.

  • I’ve been working hard on editing a book lately; and last night, I crashed at 1am… yeah, not an ideal time to do that. Today, I read you post here where you said to take care of yourself – and I’ve realised that I’m burning myself out too much.

    Thank you so much for the reminder to sleep when I need to; not push the envelope too hard. My book will still be there tomorrow morning.

  • Thank you for your blogging words; they are much appreciated. I work at the Council on American-Islamic Relations and, let me tell you, business is booming! I am somewhat of a mental case at the end of the day sometimes, and I play The Stooges REALLY LOUD in my car on the way home…it helps some. Then I try and paint things when I get home. But sometimes making art seems futile…that’s why I thank you for your words – it’s important to have optimism – even if we have doubts we need to keep doing it. Cheers! Mash Allah as we say in the office!

    • I work with all people. I paint too. Or try too. Futility has come into that a lot of late. But today I remembered my own work again, and began, again. keep up your fine work, Patti.
      http://www.paperpeoplebeauty.org There is a page in Arabic. And Russian. More translations to come – she said, optimistically <3

  • Thank You Chuck…..The only thing I would add is that eating Doughnuts and drinking Coffee don’t work for me!!!!

  • Duuuuude. I’ve shared this all over my social reach. Excellent – and entertaining! – read. Thanks & keep it coming!

    • Ah……resisting? that is merely the other side of the same coin….expanded mind, becoming the “Observer” steps out of duality, embraces it and the answers become clear…Remember the dude with the wild gray hairdo and bushy eyebrows..hmm Einstein I believe was his last name??? quote ” You cannot change anything from the same level of consciousness it was created from” ie tit for tat..allow them their madness and stay your own ‘sane’ for this we are witnessing is indeed “The Last Waltz of the Tyrants” it’s all a bit silly but has to play out…what will come after will be mind boggingly wonderful…I guarantee… 🙂 <3

  • I teach. I teach kids to play the piano, and to create their own music. When a kid walks out of my door able to do or play something they couldn’t play or do when they came in, it is a good day. Most days are good days. Keeping learning and creating alive is resisting.

  • There are reasons for optimism and pessimism in every era. I would suggest looking at changes in routine vocabulary as clues as to where thinking has moved. I would add, when opinion trumps
    reason and narrative trumps logic, there are consequences.

  • Touch is so important. It lets us know that we’re not alone, that someone else sees us and cares about us. If they are amenable, hug and snuggle with your friends, rub their feet, touch their faces the way your mother used to touch your face when she would tuck you into bed. It will make everyone feel better.

  • Personal plan:

    1. Come to Portugal for a visit.
    2. Learn the language.
    3. Stay.
    4. Watch the circus from afar.
    5. Start a business.
    6. Bring your friends over next and give them jobs.
    7. Repeat step 5.

  • I became a beekeeper as an act of resistance. Bees are amazing. Bees are under assault but bees keep working their little asses off to make a world worth living in. Be like bees!

  • I wrote a long fb post about two days back, trying to unpack that personal complete lack of motivation that has set in. I don’t have any good answers for it still, but may be worth your while, Chuck, to go look at it. It felt like it helped, though there hasn’t been much material progress yet.

  • I WALK IN TREES AND DIRT. I listen to birds, eat just what I’m yearning for. I practice radical self care. I practice staying alert, awake and asleep

  • June 28, 2017 at 9:31 PM // Reply

    When you go on holiday

    Turn off your TV
    Turn off your iPhone
    Turn off your computer of any type.
    Don’t read any newspapers.

    For one week. Tell people where you are, so you can be reached by phone.

    Also do the list after 5 pm every day, restart when you get up (if you must)

  • ok yes… to nearly all of those, BUT STAY INFORMED, they want us to tire, put out heads in the sand… and move on .. DONT DO IT!!! yes give yourself a breather on the daily but at least stay informed bi-daily.. No less than weekly.. succumb to fatigue and they win… you loose… and you’ll wake up in a world you don’t recognize..

  • June 29, 2017 at 1:39 AM // Reply

    I think I will go facet some garnets and sapphires. Something that will outlast the pyramids and especially the shit storm that is this administration. Bless you all real good

  • In the optimism front. The nazi candidates didn’t get in in France and Holland. It’s like we Brits with our stupid Brexit and you folks with … OK I’m sorry but the Republican Party at the best of times is close to what British politics would class as fascist. Your democrats are about where our right wing usually sits. But we’re probably in similar shit to you right now and seeing the far right fail a couple of times makes me feel it might have helped some folks, even if we are stuck sucking up the crap for a bit. Perhaps we can take heart from that.

    I will now write. As much as I can. And lo it will be funny. Because even if no fucker buys it, THAT is my civic duty.

    Cheers

    MTM

  • This is awesome. You are so right!

    How do I stay sane – apart from not watching the news and finding my people and giving cash to those who can carry the fight further than I can? I spend time with my grandchildren, helping to provide balance against the sheer stupidity of our age, and then I go out into my little patch of this earth with my camera and photograph the tiny creatures. I contribute the data to recording schemes, which is a way of contributing time & effort to ventures bigger than anything I could achieve alone – besides which, our tiny arthropod neighbours are utterly fascinating and peaceful to watch.

  • June 29, 2017 at 4:32 AM // Reply

    A comment from across the pond in the UK:

    Why are Americans in general (not you lot I know!) so resistant to the idea that they might aid their fellow citizens by contributing taxes? – in Europe this is a given, that’s what citizens do.

  • I’m trying to avoid hiding in Instagram where I can look at pretty pics rather than making my own stuff. Great tips here….I’ll switch to that at night, after I’ve done my work. I’m also doing the odd bit of artwork for charity as I can raise more money with my work than I can give from my bank account. It makes me good and busy too 🙂

  • Thankfully and eternally grateful that I write and illustrate for the children’s market. I do keep up with daily events but I don’t contaminate my brain with the nonsense and things that are out of my control. That’s God’s job…and he’ll handle it. Until then, my job is to create cute stuff that makes you smile…or give you the hug you need after being polluted by extreme media garbage.

  • Thank you! My playroom thanks you. My fractal art thanks you. My paints and canvasses thank you. My quilting thanks you! And sometimes, my art makes someone else smile. Keep creating!

  • June 29, 2017 at 11:12 AM // Reply

    “Optimism is hard. So fucking hard. Optimism is in itself an act of resistance.” Perfectly said! Your blog is genius and much needed in our times. As a writer and artist I applaud you for articulating your ideas so fucking beautifully. Bravo. Bravo!

  • You speak the truth…in a very entertaining way! I agree with all you said and am going to pass this along. Thanks for brightening my day…………

  • Well said indeed. As an artist and writer, huzzah. An artist friend recently remarked on the loss of any enthusiam for working, she called it the loss of hope that permeates our world. Thank you for articulating.

  • Thank you so much for this blog. I was getting so down until I read this. Good stuff. It was like a slap up side my head, reminding me to keep it real or just shut the hell up!

  • Thank you for this blog! I had renounced my art because a bad horse put me on the floor twice and hurt me in the process. My art is dressage, (dancing with horses) and I was so depressed not doing it. Today I watched a man of the same age as myself 65 ride two beautifull Iberian horses and make them dance. Felt inspired and you reminded me what my art is and that I should be doing it to please myself. And doing it every day because it feeds my soul. Thank you.

  • I have been burying myself in creating artistic gifts for friends and going fishing, camping and hiking. After the shit-show that was called an election I came very close to having a breakdown. I cried for weeks. I just kinda snapped one day and said, “Fuck it! I’m going fishing.” I had never fished a day in my life. I went and bought a pole and a tackle box with everything one is supposed to need for fishing. Now I know why so many people do it. It’s good for the spirit and soul.

    Some of my art is dark. I’ve taken to wearing t-shirts that has a rainbow unicorn with an upside down cross on it and has the words “SATAN LOVES ME!” across the bottom of it. And an upside down pentacle t-shirt with a pic of Black Phillip in it. I don’t even believe in the chrispie’s devil. But right now doing such things really appeals to me. (Chrispies=Christians)

  • Cuddling my dogs and hiking with them in the mountains helps keep me sane. With all the madness in the world I’m extremely grateful to be in relatively peaceful surroundings with no bombs falling nearby yet. I remind myself of all the times I nearly died in the past, and how amazing it is I’m still around to enjoy the good things that still exist. I’m fairly certain that people in the Dark Ages couldn’t imagine the Renaissance- but it happened. I refuse to give in to the ugliness that surrounds us. Everything we do sends out ripples- I donate what I can, help strangers in need when I’m able, and use my white privilege to defend poc when they’re under attack. I can’t fix all the stupid, but choosing to be a tiny light in an ocean of darkness helps keep me going.

Speak Your Mind, Word-Nerds