Motivation is an issue for me, because lack thereof is one of the stickiest symptoms of my depression. Even if I otherwise feel good, not sad or irritable or tired, I just don’t want to do anything. That goes for schoolwork as well as some of my more ambitious hobbies; I’ll think about the story I’m writing all day, and then when I finally have a few minutes to work on it before bed, I just stare at it and then go play Flash games or read CNN or post on message boards.
If I had to boil it down to the thing that stops me from getting started on this stuff, I’d say it’s a fear of doing something badly. When I’m writing fiction, I sometimes have to rewrite a sentence three or four times before I decide it doesn’t make me cringe to look at it, and I can go on to the next part; and the next time I look at it I’ll probably change the line again anyways.
What I have to remind myself is that it’s okay to do that, that all writers do that, and that when I read a book by my favourite author, every line probably has the shadow of some really awful first-draft writing behind it. If I can get past that mental block, and not worry about feeling silly in front of myself, I can just enjoy the writing. (Interestingly enough, I have less qualms about feeling silly in physical situations than in mental ones; e.g. I think I’m one of the least inhibited people in my yoga class when it comes to some of the really funny-looking poses we do. Maybe I just have to remember what that feels like when I’m writing.)
Anyways… that wasn’t so much of a how-to-get-motivated speech as an I-feel-for-you-man speech. :b
Oh, and one other thing-- make sure the things you’re trying to do are things you really want to do. Writing a story might be a good way to get your name recognized, but if you don’t have the drive to write, it’ll be meaningless. Ask yourself if you’re doing it because it’s fun and you like to do it, or if you’re just trying to impress someone or make yourself more interesting than you think you are.
I thought of something else about writing in particular. If you like to write, or if you did like to write but you’ve forgotten, go read some of your favourite authors and see if that reminds you of the reason you like to write. My heroes as a writer are C.S. Forester and Terry Pratchett; I dream of being able to write about sensory and emotional experiences and transport readers to other places as evocatively as the former, and of being able to make people laugh and think at the same time and fill them with intellectual euphoria like the latter.