When it comes to any job, it can be hard to maintain a certain level of motivation. Even if you are in the career that you’re most passionate about, our urge to work tends to ebb away at certain points. I notice this particularly in people within the creative industry, which includes artists, actors, photographers, and, of course, writers. Within these forms of work, it can be difficult to get a job with the abundance of aspiring talent. Not only that, but these industries can be intimidating. (Not nearly as intimidating as the police force or the military–those are truly brave and strong people–but still frightening.)
We creative people pour our hearts into our creative works, and though we have a slim chance of turning it into a career, we do it anyways because it makes our hearts thrum with joy. Some would say this is foolish; I say this is brave. People who have the will and the patience to pursue their dreams are the souls that I admire. They don’t mind that the odds are against them, that their source of income is sketchy and often low. They simply work towards it because it makes them happy, because it’s what they want to do.
But there’s something that many of us don’t seem to realize, and that is that many of these people have doubts. There are countless moments where we question what we’re doing, if we’re wasting time and should just toss our efforts away. It can be so easy to be consumed in the negativity.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to put myself in the creative industry. Creative writing is my true passion. It makes me happier than anything else, and I’ve become a better person because of it. I learn so much from my characters in more ways than one could imagine. Even with this powerful love, I worried the first critique I heard would make me reconsider everything, or I would never settle on one idea. But this wasn’t the case. I’ve had many doubts–and I still am and will, probably forever–though nothing has stopped me. So I want to share my top three tips that keep me motivated and inspired.
1. Keep your inspirations near.
Think of something that has inspired your creativity, whether it be an object, a song, or a person. Grasp onto that thing(s) and don’t let it go. Surround yourself in it, drown yourself in it. Keep it around and with you at all times.
As a writer, there are many things that inspire my stories. Music has helped me invent characters and stories and settings and even specific scenes, so I almost always have my headphones around my ears with tunes rolling through my head.
Pictures and films and television are also extremely inspiring. They give me certain imagery to make a base of. I may see a certain costume or a building or a machine and weave a story out of that.
I also love watching specific actors and actresses perform on-screen. When it comes to making a character, it’s not possible to create a new face without having a base. Nothing is original; everything comes from something. So when I’m creating characters, I like to map out their basic characteristics in my mind. Once I have an idea of what I’m looking for, I search for actors and actresses who fit the description of said characters in multiple ways. This allows me the chance to have a physical source to sketch my ideas from and mold into a new character. And whenever I see these actors or actresses, it makes me think of the characters they helped me create and bring to life. This is why I’ve recently developed such a strong interest in the film and television industry, along with a higher level of respect for actors and actresses themselves.
2. Follow a schedule.
I suppose this mainly applies to writer, but within the creative works, most often have a decent hold over their schedules. Of course, there are certain limitations and mandatory events, but we usually have some say within the choice of where, when, and how long we work. This leniency can be nice, though it could also lead to a lack of motivation.
I’m in a private school, so my assignments are flexible. Between school and writing, I spend most of my time home at my office. But for many months, I didn’t have a schedule. I would simply alternate between school and my writing, without realizing that this was causing an immense amount of stress. It started to become too difficult prying myself from writing, something I love with the whole of my heart, to school, an activity I frankly despise. I mean, I actually adore learning new things and expanding my mind, but when you’ve basically been reading about the same topics for four years, it can become repetitive.
After reading an article from one of my favorite authors (Elizabeth May) about her methods of staying productive, I decided to try making a schedule myself. My stress instantly dissipated and my productivity increased. I went from writing a couple hundred words a day to one-thousand or more. Now, I sometimes write two-thousand words per day–depending one what I’m writing. I’m currently in the midst of rewrites, which is the time to carefully comb through and rearrange everything, but I’m still getting about a thousand words each day. And once I finish school (and this should be very soon, because I doubled up on my work), I imagine my word count will heighten more.
But it’s also remember that good things do take time. Don’t rush yourself if you don’t have to. Enjoy every moment of your passion.
3. Fall in love with your work.
Now, this is possibly the most important thing for this industry. The creative world can be such a difficult place to whittle your way into. You have to place your work on pedestal, to be torn apart by wrath of critics and reviewers. There will always be someone who will love your work, but there will also be someone who will hate your work. The question is, which side will win out over the other? Will my work strike the hearts of my readers? Or will it bomb and be torn to shreds?
I used to ask myself these questions quite often. I would wonder and guess and hope, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t take you anywhere. I’m a planner, so my mind often becomes tangled in the ideas of the future when it comes to anything, especially my career. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in possibilities, both negative and positive, but this only places more stress on my shoulders. I’ve started to train myself to only think of the present, to focus on my love for the stories I write. I write these books for me, not another soul in this world. And once I’m done, I hope for readers to fall in love with my work as I did, but I’ll worry about that when I’m finished. In the meantime, this is about me and my characters.
I’m currently writing a duology, and I’ve had the base of my story in my mind since I was about fourteen-years-old. It’s changed greatly since then for the better; characters have been removed and added, plot points changed, settings were altered, etc. And as you may or may not have read in a previous post of mine, “Bringing Characters to Life“, I love my characters. I love the process of creating them, of constructing people who previously didn’t exist. I think about my books often, but I’m always thinking about my characters.
Recently, I’ve received feedback on some of my work. Most of it was good and positive, but there were also critiques. Some people didn’t like it, and that’s okay. It’s bound to happen, and though I knew that, I was worried it would affect my motivation. Sure, it hurt to hear certain comments, but I felt fine. I could still hear my characters rambling in my head, alive as ever. They didn’t fade, so neither did my motivation.
So if you’re truly in love with what you do, you will continue to pursue it, no matter the obstacles or the doubts or the negativity, you will follow your dream for you. Because if it’s what you love, it’s what you should do.
What do you do to stay motivated? I would love to hear any of your tips or suggestions. And feel free to leave any other comments or questions down below!