On Motivation

    There is nothing quite so frustrating to an artist as the sudden and crushing weight of Lack of Motivation. When we have this one thing that we have come to believe is so important to us, maybe even as a calling or a lifelong dream, and for no reason, –we just don’t feel like it. Writing, painting, dancing, baking – whatever it is, the passion is gone. It can feel pretty hopeless.
    One of the reasons for building a rhythm of daily practice is to use the natural human tendency to take comfort in habit and routine to carry us through changes and distractions that are inevitable. Random feelings of depression, frustration or powerlessness may not be so random after all. These can not only have clear sources, they can be related to illness, seasonal changes or upheaval in another area of life. Keeping to the practice, journaling and assessing progress can provide insight into patterns that affect motivation. Cleaning and organizing (but not just as a means of procrastination) can clear the cobwebs. Ritual decluttering and restocking, especially after a big art show or other milestone can renew creative energy. Experimenting with new materials or ideas recorded in sketchbooks or journals can help get the momentum going again.
     When you find yourself in this rut, get a dialogue going. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of? What concerns are sapping the joy out this wonderful practice I have built? Has something changed? Have I gone off track? ” Perhaps a recent success has led to fear of not being able to repeat it. Envy of another’s success or even the weight of some tragic event at home or in the news can derail a solid practice. It may be time to shake up the routine, examine what is working, and plan a break like a class or a trip. When duties prevent that, schedule the break for the first available time and think about how great it will be. Keep in mind that this is the thing that you may have spent countless hours looking forward to, and now it is here. If you love being a writer, an artist, an actor, or a chef, there is no way that you really don’t want to express that love. If the way you need to express it has to change, then make it happen. Throw out some old clutter, bring in some new ideas, and remember that you are the creative director of your practice. If you find yourself asking, ‘what’s the point?’ then it may be time for a new direction.