I've been thinking a lot about motivation lately, specifically what motivates me to action. Case in point: two plugins for Open Metalcast have aged out (newer versions of PHP have made them so they don't work quite the same and I'm sure that eventually they will break). I'm not ready to sunset the site so I have a choice: fix the issue or wait until it breaks further. I've wanted to make the site into a static site for a while now so I have a clear goal: replicate the functionality of the old site with a new platform so I can deprecate the old code and not have to worry about it any more. I have clear next actions as well: modify the podcast plugin for Pelican so it can serve both ogg and mp3 files in different feeds, fix the site so it displays properly, and get it all uploaded and deprecate the old site. Simple, clear and direct. Also folks are replying on the site being there for a while longer while they listen to the previous podcasts. So I have clear actions to take to make this happen, an audience who will benefit from my actions, and a deadline (eventually this will all break). Plus, it allows me to deprecate another Wordpress site so I don't have to maintain it anymore. Winner winner.
Contrast this with my other projects where I have clear goals but no built-in audience and lots of work that I haven't done before. I'm not sure if they'll work and I'm scared that I'll somehow release something that will somehow be disappointing to myself or others. That's not terribly motivating at all.
I find my motivation is at its peak when I have clear goals and someone waiting for whatever it is that I'm working on. Where it falters is when I'm not certain how to proceed and I'm not sure if anyone is paying attention. No matter how much I tell myself that I'm doing it for myself and "who cares what people think?" I still play to that imaginary audience (or lack thereof). It's something that I've struggled with and I'd love to find that magic thing that allows me to just amuse myself and screw the rest but I'm not there yet. Eventually I'll get there, but it's a practice that I keep wrestling with.