Sometimes one of the most difficult things about working for yourself or running a creative business can be staying motivated. We’ve all been there, waking up in the morning and all you want to do is roll over and go back to sleep for a little while. Or perhaps you’ve been working on a project that seems to be going nowhere, so you don’t even feel like starting or trying to continue. Whatever the case may be, there are a few tricks that I learned that help me stay in my creative groove, and feeling motivated to do my best and keep working.
Remember why you started to begin with. Try to step back and look at the bigger picture. There was a time when this was everything you wanted, are you able to recall what that felt like? Does this project still excite you or make you feel fulfilled when you finish part of it? Does it still make you happy? If the answer is yes then try to remember how great you will feel looking at (or listening to) the final product. Always remember though, if something just isn’t fun or make you happy anymore it might not be worth it to continue!
Utilize the internet. Don’t just sit there and surf the web all day, but use it as a tool to your advantage. Use it to get inspired and feel motivated again. I like to use sites like Pinterest and Etsy to browse other artist’s work to see what other people doing similar things as me are up to. Often times an image will resonate with me and strike that yearning desire to create back into my system. Soundcloud or YouTube is also great for this if you are a musician or producer.
Clear your mind. Sometimes our brains are too cluttered to work. Take a few minutes to sit in silence and meditate or go outside for a walk, if you need to get your thoughts out, journal with a nice cup of tea. Find the ritual that works for you to clear your mind and get a fresh start. Whatever your routine may be, make it a moment of reflection to recenter and recommit yourself to your vision.
We’ve all been there before, you get a great idea and talk about how awesome it could be if you organized this or that event, collaborated on a project or how badly you want to release your next album, but then for some reason nothing actually happens and said “awesome project” never actually gets completed or even started. This becomes kind of redundant after a while and you begin to wonder if anything will ever actually get done, and it can become very discouraging which can prevent you from even trying in the first place. In my experience there are a few tips to consider when starting a new project.
Tips for making it happen:
Fully brainstorm the idea or project from start to finish. Envision what it will be like when it’s completed. Draw, write, or sketch out as much detail as you can in order to get a full picture of your vision. Sometimes it helps to work backwards from what your completed goal would look like; imagine it already finished and write down what that would be with as much detail as possible. (If it’s a song, imagine what it sounds like before you even start.)
Plan out the stepping stones. Write out the steps necessary to take in order to reach your goals. This means breaking up your larger goals into smaller chunks to make it actually doable and less daunting of a project, which will keep you from becoming overwhelmed and tempted to give up.
Just do it. Eventually you just have to go for it. There’s a point when you’ve done as much planning as you can, and have to start filling out the content of your project. If you have a nice complete outline, you will have an easier time filling in the gaps. Once you have that completed outline and have brainstormed your ideas, it’s time to take that leap of faith and take the first step necessary in the direction of your goal.
Learn From Your Mistakes
It’s normal to make mistakes, it can even been seen as a good thing if you are able to learn from your personal mistakes and make changes based on the lessons you’ve learned. Hopefully you are aware enough to admit when you are wrong or when a business idea or plan isn’t working out. Often times those who are so scared of making a mistake are actually holding themselves back from doing what they really want to, because they are too scared to even start or try.
Writing Prompt: make a list of some of the mistakes you’ve made that might be bringing you down, and then how you’ve learned from them in order to not do similar things in the future. How have these things made you the person you are today? How have they helped you progress and grow? Are you able to re-frame these things to see them in a more positive light?
Learn From Others
Save yourself some time and learn from other people’s errors. Do your research and you will probably find numerous articles and information on the web about people trying to do similar things as yourself and find out what didn’t work for them. You can also look around your own life and observe those close to you, not to say to judge people, but just be aware of the mistakes your friends and family are making that have seemed to cause them strife, and try to avoid doing those things yourself.
Fail & Start Again as Quickly as Possible
Once you have failed, you are in the best place to try again. Get the bad ideas out and over with, cut your losses, and figure out a new plan. Don’t stay dredging it out in one specific idea just because you committed yourself to it when it obviously isn’t working. Eventually you will be able to see each “mistake” as an opportunity, rather than some terrible thing that happened, to grow and start fresh again with some new ideas!
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work” (Thomas Edison)
A big part of making the step into self-employment and starting your own business in general is knowing what you’re worth. All too often I see artists and aspiring creatives pricing their work and their skills for much less than they are worth. Pricing your work and figuring out what to charge for a certain project can be one of the most difficult aspects of the self employed artist. Underpricing your work is not only harmful to yourself, but it also negatively affects the market because it lowers the value of the work around you. If you keep your pricing at a healthy rate with maybe just a slight competitive edge, it raises the value of the artist’s community as a whole.
Tips for pricing and knowing the value of your work:
Account for cost of materials as well as overhead. Know how much your supplies cost, what your overhead is such as rent, utilities, the gas it takes to get to the post office, how much it will cost to ship, and how much the packaging and shipping materials cost per item.
Be realistic about how long it took you to make something and charge for your time to be a liveable wage. This includes brainstorming the idea as well as the actual production time. Don’t discount your time because you love to do something. If you are an artist, the community as a whole needs you to be an important component to our modern day culture, don’t act like what you do isn’t important to society because art is a huge part of innovation and helping people to think outside the box, and therefore create change and progress in all aspects of our society.
Know your value at wholesale and retail prices. If you are selling a product or small runs or artwork, you want to be able to approach small businesses and boutiques that will want to sell your items at higher prices than what they bought them for. The general rule is that wholesale is half of retail, so take your numbers from the previous two tips, and that is your wholesale price, multiply that by two, and that is your retail price. Don’t sell yourself short.
This topic can go on and on, but these are the basics, and remember, it’s not about being greedy or finding fame, it’s about being able to create change in your community by offering creative and innovative services. It’s important to build growth in your own community so that it can have living and working artists that contribute to society as a whole. So on that note, let’s make 2014 and the coming years the New Renaissance! Keep working, growing, becoming inspired, and finding new solutions to our communities’ issues.
It is very easy in this day of booming technology to get distracted while we are trying to create or when we are supposed to be working in our studio or on our creative business ventures. I found a few tips that help me keep my projects on track and my mind on the tasks at hand.
I like to turn off my WiFi connection when I’m recording new music because not only does it boost my processing speed, but also every time I try to click on that little Internet Icon, it prevents me from getting lost in the vastness of the world wide web. It also gives me a little visual cue of “oh right, I turned that off for a reason, I’m supposed to be working on this other thing right now.”
Develop Self Awareness
Those who know me know I can seem a little spacey at times. I’m a dreamer, I day dream a lot through out the day and I’m sure while it has helped me immensely with developing new ideas, it’s important to be aware of where your mind is and be able to snap back to reality and the project in front of you in an instant. Maintaining focus and a mindfulness for the present moment is like training your brain as if it were a muscle. This is a difficult skill to learn, but gets easier over time the more you practice at it. The trick is to develop a self awareness that allows you to notice when you are drifting off into dreamland. Once you are able to recognize when you aren’t staying in the moment, it’s possible to re-direct your thinking back to your productivity.
Don’t Force It
Know when it is not the right time. If you are just not in the right zone or frame of mind, chances are the things you create won’t turn out to reflect your vision. Sometimes you can jog this by taking a walk or stretching for a bit, but by all means take a night off and use it for something else like brain storming or meeting up with your friends or colleagues to discuss your next projects. There is a healthy balance in pushing yourself and your creations, and maintaining a lifestyle that allows you to stay uplifted and take time to enjoy the finer things in life – such as friendships, long walks with your dog, thrift shopping & perfume sample collecting. ; )