How To Get Motivated: Artist's Edition

Analysis paralysis. Procrastination. Doubt and fear. How can we transcend those feelings to enter (and remain) on a consistent course of creativity?


3 min read

As an artist, we've all been there. Maybe you have a super cool idea, but are drawing a blank (pun intended) on how to proceed. Maybe you've started on a project, but no longer like how things are progressing - or perhaps the idea of success itself is intimidating.

It's easy to get frustrated and throw in the towel on your creative pursuits. Maybe you even justify this by using statements like, "I am too busy" or "I'll do it after x, y, and z".

I've been there too. Regardless, your projects get pushed further and further away, never fully realized or seen through to fruition.

It's also easy to compare yourself to others - especially through the lens of social media. We witness how others are living their life and their perceived success. This can lead to damaged self-esteem, and major feelings of demotivation. In the act of comparing, we are simply not being fair to ourselves.

Unfortunately, I have not been immune to these things myself. A few years ago, I was honestly pretty disorganized and had no idea what I wanted to do with my art. There would be long periods where I simply wouldn't create much at all - I was very unmotivated.

The design jobs I had during this period were beyond stressful, and my dating life was an utter mess. I was definitely stifling myself and my calling in the midst of the chaos.

I was addicted to making myself small. If I didn't put myself out there, it meant I couldn't fail. Twisted logic, but there it is. I was afraid of coming into my power, and what that might mean for my life.

I kept putting things off until eventually COVID struck in 2020. I found myself laid off from my job, and I now had all the time in the world. This came as a blessing, and a curse. I was forced to face myself at that time, with nowhere to run.

This journey really began as an effort to not lose myself in the insanity that was unemployment. I turned to art again. Cautiously, I then decided to open an Etsy shop, and started selling hand-painted bags and stickers. People even started buying my work!

It felt good to return to my essence, and do what actually made me happy again.

Once COVID died down a bit, I had the confidence to take things a step further. What about selling my work at conventions? It was intimidating, but something I had been wanting to do for a long, long time. I was so proud of my first booth - now I have countless under my belt, and I absolutely love attending conventions.

The question is: how do we transcend negative vibes and keep motivated on the course of creation?

Below is a list of Motivational Must-Have's, and what I found to be useful throughout my artistic journey:

    ✧ Got a goal? Write it out! Put it where you will see it daily as a reminder.
    ✧ Get really specific about what you want to accomplish. Is it a comic? A painting?
    ✧ Make it fun! Not something that's viewed as a chore.
    ✧ Envision what this project would look like, and how it feels. Manifest it!
    ✧ Set timelines and break the project into bite-sized sections.
    ✧ Reward yourself as an incentive - cookies, anyone? (only one for me, I'm diabetic 😛)
    ✧ Regularly review, revise, and create new goals as you go along.

    ✧ What is going to push you to pursue these goals? Think about it.
    ✧ Find a powerful reason, something that is strong enough to keep you motivated.
    ✧ Maybe you want to be your own boss, or just want to create something meaningful.
    ✧ Hold onto that "why", and remind yourself of it when you might be feeling down.

    ✧ Get rid of statements like "I can't" or "I can try". Master Yoda taught you better.
    ✧ Practice mindfulness and being in the present moment, without self-judgement.
    ✧ Stress and negative emotions come and go. Observe them, then let them pass.
    ✧ Mindfulness aids in emotional regulation, getting you back to center.

    ✧ Who you surround yourself with largely impacts who you are!
    ✧ Pick positive people who want to see you succeed, and who will hype you up.
    ✧ Use these people as a support system - they will help you stay motivated.

    ✧ That's OK, and completely normal! This is where building resilience comes in.
    ✧ Reference back to your goals and your "why". Maybe these need reshaping.
    ✧ Take motivation from outside sources - watch a movie, go to a museum.
    ✧ Sometimes you just need to rest and recharge. Starting fresh can help a lot!

Another important thing to note is to be gentle with yourself. Habits take time to form, and sometimes life gets tough. We are not machines, but human beings!

Every personal journey is different. Mine might have started during the lockdown, but that doesn't mean its the only way. Your starting point will be different from mine, and your friends'. You must seek out what is genuinely "you", and take things from there.

Let's keep moving forward, always.

- Ashley


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