Have you noticed that there are seasons in your creative life when you don’t feel motivated to do what you need to get done? What do you do when that happens to you?
I’ve been working on a big writing project for the last several months. In addition to that, I’ve got textile art projects I’m working on, I’ve got my blog I’m coordinating SAQA Connecticut’s regional show and caring for my family.
Recently, I haven’t been feeling motivated to work on either my writing project or my textile project. I had such a consistent approach to both of these projects but then I hit a snag. And for each one of them, I can tell you exactly at what point I got stuck.
For the writing project, I started writing on a particular topic and suddenly I found it hard to articulate what was in my mind onto paper. After discarding several drafts, I was no longer motivated. The writing project seemed long tiresome and unrewarding. I couldn’t get myself to go back to writing as diligently as I’d been doing previously.
And for my textile project which I’d previously shared with you., I got stuck in my head imagining how to use threads to draw the hair of my character. For weeks, I couldn’t go back to my studio to work on that particular project. So, how do you get yourself motivated again? Here’s what I discovered.
5 Ways to Get Yourself Motivated
- Look Up to Someone Else
When you can’t find it in you to motivate yourself, you can’t find it in you. Period! That’s when it helps to look up to someone else you admire and who understands what you’re going through. For me that motivation came from a quote, I’d read a while ago from an artist called Mark Bradford.
- Take a Break.
When you find yourself stuck in your own head you need to take a break from what you’re working on and switch to something that’s stimulating. The caution here is to make your break short so you don’t end up procrastinating on what you need to do.
- Focus on the Prize or Reward.
Another thing I found helpful was to focus on what I’ll achieve and how I’ll feel when I complete these two projects. Thinking of these two things helped me to not completely abandon my projects.
- Celebrate Small Wins
I lost track of all the progress I’d made and focused on how much more I had to go. And that derailed me. When you feel unmotivated, focus on the parts of your project, not the whole. This way, you’ll overcome the overwhelm and you’ll be able to celebrate your progress and be kind to yourself for all the work you’ve done.
- Discipline Yourself
I think the best antidote to lack of motivation is discipline. One of my favorite quotes is by Chuck Close “inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”. This quote and that one by Mark Bradford about disciplining himself to work even when he doesn’t feel like it eventually got me going again.
Something truly awesome happened when I disciplined myself to go back to writing the topic I’d been previously stuck on. I made progress. In the grand scheme of things, it may not be a lot of writing – It was 3 hours of writing. But that was something I hadn’t been able to do on that particular topic for a while. So I was happy to celebrate that win.
And for this hair illustration with threads, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Funny thing is, it just came intuitively. I must have thought about it long enough that my brain had made the right connections without me knowing. All I needed to do was discipline myself and get to work. And the reward of discipline is indescribable. I feel so good about myself for getting back on track.
What do you need to get yourself motivated about?
Also published on Medium.