How to be a Motivated Artist

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After a holiday, I find it a challenge to get back into ‘the swing of things’, and so getting motivated to create again and stay focused is so important.

In the last post ‘What Is Your Primary Motivation?’ I said how mine was to ‘succeed’ at running my own business as an artist, so how I wanted to live my life would no longer be stifled by intense full time work in the public sector.  I have huge respect for anyone who continues to work in education, the NHS, the police etc despite all the pressures around them.  This however, is my overarching motivation; if I only concentrated on that, then I would be overwhelmed and probably fail.  Year to year, month to month, week to week, my motivations change.  I set myself new goals and try to keep to them.  Here is how I do it.

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Painting at my first paid demonstration

Break your goals into steps

I start my year with New Year resolutions, or a business plan, stating what I want to achieve during the year.  My goals this year are to post a blog and YouTube video every month, and produce more original artwork to approach more galleries with.  Note that I didn’t say ‘get into more galleries this year’.  Instead I already broke that one down; I need to spend the time creating far more work first in the area that I’m interested in, and then there will be numerous other steps to take afterwards, depending on which galleries I approach.

These yearly goals I break down even further into monthly and weekly goals.  Each week I do a bit of filming for my YouTube channel, and pop the files into their folders, ready to edit into a film later.  Each month I may have a topic in mind for my video, and each week work a little towards that.  The artwork I produce become monthly and weekly goals i.e. next week I aim to complete the canvas you see me painting from my recent demo and begin another display art for a school, and the week after I am going to research and sketch a design for a Scottish piece of folklore on the Kelpie.  As for blog posts, I find they are coming quite naturally, which I didn’t entirely expect!

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MAKE YOUR GOALS SMALL, ACHIEVABLE STEPS, AND AS YOU COMPLETE THEM, LOOK BACK DOWN THE MOUNTAIN AND SEE HOW FAR YOU’VE COME!  THAT WILL SURELY KEEP YOU WANTING TO GET STARTED ON THE NEXT THING.

Make Lists

Most days I make a list in the morning or the evening before, with everything I want to get done.  This isn’t always art stuff.  Quite often there is a house chore, errand, or correspondence to deal with.  Sometimes on busy days, I even schedule exercise in.  I tend to put anything dull at the start of my day, so I can enjoy the rest of the day ticking off fun ‘art things’.  If I left the mundane stuff until the end of the day, they would probably never get done!

SEEING YOUR ‘TO DO LIST’ GETTING SHORTER THROUGHOUT THE DAY IS SO SATISFYING.

Make Yourself Accountable

I find this suggestion particularly helpful for when I’ve been away on holiday, and then find myself out of routine when I get back to the studio.  To make myself accountable, I explain to my husband what I want to achieve that day in the studio, and then when he gets back home from work, he checks on my progress.  I like being my own boss, but when you are your own boss it is sometimes hard to keep yourself accountable.  Sometimes I imagine myself having a staff meeting with ten other Sarahs, each with notebooks, diaries and pens and sitting in the staff room of the last school I taught at, and reviewing what I have and haven’t achieved that week.  It’s a weird vision and I don’t like it, so asking my husband to check up on me after a holiday really helps.

TELL SOMEONE WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO, BECAUSE THEN YOU HAVE TO DO IT!

Book Yourself Up

This one really helps propel me forward in my art career.  When opportunities come round I nearly always say ‘yes, I’ll do that’.  It means I am a rather busy person, but I get to be part of a huge variety of wonderful projects, and I have built up (and still building) an extensive network of artists or people who work in that field.  Opportunities I have said yes to include: the van I painted (I had no idea I could do it until I tried), signing up to exhibitions (this means I HAVE to get painting otherwise have a sad looking show), and demonstrating to a group of already fabulous artists (I did this recently and will blog about this as a bonus this month).

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BOOKING YOURSELF UP FOR RELEVANT EVENTS OR PROJECTS WILL MAINTAIN YOUR FOCUS 

Building Confidence

Forcing yourself into projects, events,  and finishing goals will build on your experience and make you more confident in what you do.  You will begin to feel increasingly ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ in your profession.  There are many times when I have done something like my first art exhibition, my first commission to a stranger, or even more recently my first paid art demonstration, and I have come back home to my husband and said, “I’m a proper artist now!”

I know that may sound silly, especially as since the day I decided to become a self-employed artist I ‘became an artist’, but as you reach more and more mile stones, you begin to feel more like the ‘real deal’.  These experiences have definitely built my confidence and they also build confidence for the people who are investing their time and / or money into you.

When your friends, family, and loyal followers become more vocal  in their enthusiasm for what you do, and trust you with their own personal commissions etc, that helps to boost your confidence.  Artists are notorious for having ‘down days’ where they begin to feel anxious, and just see everything they are trying to create as a failure, so when you have people behind you cheering you on, it definitely helps.  Remember to think of your loyal, enthusiastic followers as people, not numbers; they are real people who like what you do.  🙂

EXPERIENCES AND FOLLOWERS HELP BUILD CONFIDENCE AND KEEP YOU MOTIVATED

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Remember to look back down that mountain, and see how far you’ve come.

 

Dear Reader, Got any tips for us on staying motivated?  Share them in the comments section of this post.  xx

 

2 Replies to “How to be a Motivated Artist”

  1. Great post. I’m a daily(ish) painter and find that when I start to get burnt out I switch mediums. But starting up after being away is always a challenge….Kind of like excercise (sp)….it’s always so much harder after taking time off. Keeping a list of what I want to do works for me. If I don’t have any pressing ideas I can look at the list and start it which usually leads to creating more work. And yes, those friends who offer encouragement are the best motivators. I certainly don’t want to let them down!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth. Yes, I agree it is like getting back into exercise! In fact over the last couple of months work has taken over, and exercise has become a bit sporadic and half-hearted. Made quite a go of it today though; new trainers and played badminton for the first time in over a year! Half the battle is knuckling down, whether in art or exercise, and just doing it! Your ideas about switching mediums are great too. Thank you for sharing your experience and insight with us. Keep creating! x

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