I just want to encourage you that as you read this post, please know I am not speaking from a theoretical perspective. I’m down in the trenches with you. If you are a creative, I want you to know you are not alone. Motivation is a hard thing; creatives seem particularly prone to this struggle. I promise you, the struggle is not something you must battle alone. I sat down and wrote out today’s entire post and was putting the finishing touches on when the post deleted completely and unexpected. Of course it would be on the day when I am writing on motivation. I now have to take everything I wrote and use those motivating factors to keep myself going. You aren’t alone. There will be days where you put a couple hours worth of work into content only to find a computer glitch is going to prevent you from keeping that work. We’ve all been there. We’ve spilled coffee on our manuscripts so we cannot read them; we’ve hit delete instead of save. Our computers have puked our content all over the place and we have to start over again. We’ve gotten bored with our manuscripts or video editing or the same kind of photography gig over and over again. We’ve had writer’s block and been so depressed we couldn’t get out of bed. What follows may be something you already know, but if you’re having one of those days where your blog post just got deleted out of nowhere, you, like me, need the reminder of how to keep motivated.
Those of us who make our living off of creative content working for ourselves are particularly prone to issues with motivation. We don’t have a boss telling us what to do, and we are easily able to fall prey to the whims of the ever elusive thing we call inspiration. So one day we may be able to kick out an entire project in just a few hours and the next we may feel like getting a single sentence, shot, or scene is worse than pulling teeth.
How do we survive?
Routines can feel like they squash the creative process, but the truth is they provide motivation on those days when we just can’t imagine getting any content out. Setting a particular time and place for our work makes it possible for us to train our minds for consistent content production. As I have been learning lately, creativity is a muscle of sorts. The more we use it, the more able it is to meet our demands. Routine may initially quash your creativity as you force yourself to work, but as your mind becomes used to this place, this time being your time to produce content, it becomes more possible and you actually become more motivated to write, draw, film, etc.
In choosing a place, consider a couple factors. First, how do you work best? Do you need solitude and quiet? Then a dedicated office space may be vital for you. Do you need people and noise? A coffee shop may be your best bet. Recognize that you may need to budget around your needs; this might seem impossible. Recognize though that if you are able to increase your productivity, you will be better able to produce sellable content and the money will be there. It might be tight at first, but stick with it.
Second place factor to consider is what the purpose of the place is. For example, it is a really bad idea to work out of your bedroom (unless you have absolutely no other option). There are two reasons for this. First, if you work in your bedroom, your body is already conditioned that this is a place to sleep. You will likely find yourself sleepy and unfocused. Secondly, when it is time to sleep, you will find your mind to remain busy and creativity to continue. Devote bedroom space to sleeping so as to improve your sleep quality by having both your body and mind trained that this is a place of rest. When this is true, you will sleep better, ultimately making you more productive and more motivated.
Include time in your routine for food. Eat a good breakfast (if you can tolerate food in the morning); this wakes your body up with an infusion of carbs for quick energy and protein for lasting energy. Be prepared to snack on healthy foods throughout the day. This really keeps you going. And the little brain break you take for food will help reenergize you for the next thing whether you are continuing with your creative process or moving on to household duties, other work, etc.
Get dressed. I know, sweats are super comfy. But your brain and body know the difference between work and rest. When you get dressed, you cue your brain and your body that it is time to work. This automatically puts you in a mode where you are more able to accomplish the task you set out for that day. You remain more consistently motivated to work and while you may struggle a bit with your creativity, you can again train your brain that this is time for creative production.
Also know that you are most likely to work well when you are somewhere you enjoy. For me, a good view is super helpful. (Thus the picture). It puts me in a creative mood to look out my window and see gorgeous scenery. Think about what helps you best create the content you are seeking. Spend your creative hours in those places. Change things up now and then just to shock your system, but keep your routine in tact as much as possible because creativity really is a muscle. The more you work it and use it, the more you are able to use it in the way you want.
And remember you aren’t alone. All of us who have a creative bent have had the day where content didn’t flow, the routine fell apart, and technology didn’t serve us the way it should. It’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day. Don’t let today’s struggles defeat tomorrow before it even comes.