I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the business we are in and how hard it is to continuously be motivated. As artists, we are one-man-shows, chief cooks and bottle-washers. For the most part, when we write that song, sketch out that painting, work on our novel, we do it alone. The arts can be very solitary.
I talk to people all the time to who struggle with this. Forced to have a job to support themselves while they build their art practice, they find themselves too tired/burnt out/uninspired to focus on their art practice at the end of the day.
The answer is just to show up. To treat your art as a job that you carve out time for every day, and show up to. It works because you no longer have to worry about inspiration or quality. Just by producing your work in sheer quantity, you will eventually come up with something great, or be inspired to create.
Still, like going to the gym, it can be tough to have the self-discipline to make yourself do it. So I suggest you get an art buddy.
Find someone who does what you do, or someone who doesn’t but is still an artist, and make a pact with them: you will both spend ‘X’ amount of time on your work over the next day/week/month. And then phone each other, send each other emails, or meet to discuss how it went. Having someone to be accountable to outside of yourself can be a very powerful motivator.
I’ve used this method many times in my life. It started when I worked at the SEARCH program, a self-employment program for artists. We would regularly create “Success Teams” out of groups of graduates who were encouraged to meet after the program was over to share ideas, help and motivation. The first few times I tried to get through The Artist’s Way, I was unsuccessful, but by going through it with a group which included weekly meetings, I got through it and I got lots out of it. Currently, I belong to a small business support group. We have been meeting bi-weekly for two years, now, and this group has been a great source of assistance–both by cheering me and kicking me in the butt.
So, whoever you are, whatever your art practice, I encourage you to not go it alone. Find someone, or a group of someones who are like-minded individuals, and create your own support group.
You can learn more about how to create your own “mastermind group” here.