The constant battle that is motivation.
As I mentioned in last weeks post about tackling anxiety, I also wanted to write about motivation and keeping yourself focused. I wrote a similar blog post a while back talking about how I tackled keeping myself focused at the time such as the usual 'listen to music', 'go for a walk' etc. A lot of articles on blogs that talk about motivation often feature these same sort of points, so I wanted to try and tackle it from a different perspective in this post.
I wanted to focus less on taking time away from your work and riding out the creative block, and focus more on tackling it head on, speeding up the journey to the other side and learning plenty in the process.
Invest in yourself.
This is something I have done myself recently when I bought myself an iPad Pro, and I'm not at all suggesting everyone should now go out and purchase an iPad, but I just want to get the point across that it's so important to make sure you invest in tools to speed up or improve your workflow. It was extremely hard for me to justify spending so much money on something but after a few talks with close friends and family they convinced me that it was a business investment which made it much easier to spend the money on it, and I can safely say it definitely has improved my workflow. One of the problems I was having is that I was always wanting to draw, but hated drawing straight onto the cintiq because it meant sitting at my desk and it's a fairly bulky piece of equipment with a chunky wire sticking out, but I was fed up of having to scan my drawings in all of the time, so the iPad has really been a perfect meet in the middle piece of kit.
This isn't all just about spending money either, time is the most valuable commodity we have in life, and if you want to live a happy and fulfilled life it's important to spend that time on things that make you happy and things that make you a better person. A good idea is to take some time out, maybe an hour every day or two to learn something new either through a tutorial for example on a website like skillshare or even just taking some time out to read up on some magazines and books relating to your industry. Doing all of these things is an investment into your own practise, skills and mentality as a creative.
Don't know what to draw?
This is something I struggled with for about a year not long after I finished uni. I knew that I wanted to improve my drawing skills and that I needed to draw more often but whenever I sat down to sketch something, I was just blank, I would literally just sit there in front of a piece of paper, stare at it, draw a few circles and then give up 15 minutes later and get on with my day. Then I purchased a really nice sketchbook (what a great idea, buy a really nice sketchbook which I feel like I'm going to ruin if I do a bad drawing in it!) and I basically decided this was MY sketchbook and not even those closest to me would see inside it. One of the biggest things holding me back when drawing is that I was so critical of everything I drew, so having this 'secret' sketchbook meant that I would just force myself to draw whatever came to mind first, even if it was stupid and I could laugh at it and laugh at how bad it was, and it was all just for fun. Doing that one thing seriously helped me just have fun with my work again, and take it from me, you don't have to post EVERYTHING online, and you can certainly take a break from social media, it'll still be there when you get back!
Also, draw from reference if you're stuck! I used to hate doing this, but now I often think of a weird animal I want to draw and draw it straight from photos, no stylistic stuff, no trying to make it my own, just drawing it how it is to really try and understand how it works. This is especially good for those days when you're imagination is a little stale, it helps you to learn more in depth about the topics you draw and improve your skills at the same time. These then are a great help in the future for developing your own versions of each topic from.
Feeling stuck and frustrated?
I've been feeling like this a lot lately, 8 years after I started on a creative path and I finally feel like I've got a solid process and a personal style that I am really happy with. However, I hate being comfortable, when I'm not comfortable it's all I want but when I get there it's boring. It's the same with goals, it's not about reaching the goal, it's about the process. Once you reach the goal, that's it, what next? It's boring. The best thing I've found for myself, although it will be different for everyone, is to change up either my materials or technique. To try something that I'm not so confident in but something that I know I would like to be able to include in my work, so something that is a challenge but also something that I'm passionate about so that I have the drive to see it through.
For example in the past I've gone from using a standard HB pencil to a mechanical pencil with blue lead, which worked absolute wonders. I then got a little fed up with that, and although I still use a mechanical pencil daily, introducing a standard coloured pencil (either blue or red) into my work flow has also worked miracles, especially when it comes to roughing out an idea because I can make it a lot less refined and controlled, especially if I don't sharpen the pencil often. I've gone from line working my illustrations in Photoshop to Sketchbook Pro and now Manga Studio. I've also gone from having a very refined process for the colouring stages to the point now where I still carry out that process, but then also try and introduce more painterly elements. For example I might paint in a background or texture with no linework or shading, completely the opposite to how I normally work. Sometimes these ideas don't work at all and I end up scrapping them, but I usually learnt something from it and had fun in the process.
It is extremely easy to feel completely lost in life. Anyone can feel it at any time, no matter what you do and for any amount of time, but it is especially common in people who work for themselves or have dreams in life to achieve big things. When you're starting out on a new path towards your dream life, you won't get anywhere unless you know exactly where you're going, and give yourself some direction. That's where goals come in, how can you possibly work towards something if you don't know what you want? The same applies to a college brief for example, you are usually told why you're doing the project (this might be to meet a specific requirement of your course) your deadline (what sort of time frame you have) and the outcome (the end goal). The same applies to anything in life, you have to know what you want, when you want to achieve it by, why it is important (if it is not important to you personally or if it doesn't add anything to your life then remove it) and what the end goal is.
The best way to set goals (I do have my own goal sheet I work from which I will share sometime in the next month or so), is to set long term, mid term and short term goals (10 years, 5 years and 1-2 years). Once you have set these goals (make sure they're big and life changing, don't limit yourself on what you 'think' you 'might' be able to achieve, dream big or go home!), work backwards from those end goals. Think about all the smaller steps you'll need to achieve those goals and start working them into your current lifestyle.
Start a personal project.
I think that this will be more relatable to current professional creatives over those still studying and that is purely because while studying a lot of students don't realise how much time they actually have and how beneficial it would be to work on multiple personal projects, developing skills and projects so that they're ahead of their competition. When you're working a creative career though, especially if you're self employed it is extremely difficult to find the time to work on your own ideas alongside all of the client work, networking, taxes, finances, travelling, meetings, admin, marketing, phone calls etc. So taking the time out to do a personal project can be difficult to squeeze in, but it's so rewarding. If done properly, it can be time well spent de-stressing and having fun whilst still producing amazing work and learning on the job.
I hope that you guys are enjoying these more informative posts! I'm going to try and include more posts like this in between posts about projects I've been working on. Although I do have some more Escape from Fusion Earth characters to introduce to you so it might be back to that next week! If this post benefited you in any way, please share it around to any friends or followers you think may find it in handy too!
Thanks for reading!