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  • Writer's pictureChris Beatrice

Staying Motivated

Updated: Apr 13, 2023



A friend asked me to comment on "...the creative practice, staying motivated, psychological roadblocks."

This is such a great topic because like so much of artmaking, what’s obviously true sounds crazy at first.

WHO MOTIVATES WHOM?

We know motivation must be a force from within, yet we talk about it as if it is alien, not really “us”. Both are true.


Because, one more time: what you normally experience as “you” (or “me”) is NOT ALL THERE IS TO YOU. Mostly what you are is some unnamable non-thing that nature is working through, which manifests as the MOTIVATION TO LIVE AND TO EXPRESS YOURSELF.


When we are motivated it feels like the wind is filling our sails and we are enjoying the ride. It’s great! But “we” do not make that wind blow, though we can fight it or ignore it, by lowering our sails, dropping anchor, or trying to sail against it. That would be really stupid, yet… we do this all the time. Why? Because on top of this unfettered drive to live and express yourself is this programmed thing (ok, it's also a non-thing) made by society.


PSYCHOLOGICAL ROADBLOCKS

This is the source of most of the “psychological roadblocks” referred to. Ever notice how all artists have the same negative talk?

“It’s not worth it.” “There’s no point.” “I won’t make any money.” “I started too late” “My parents or so and so won’t approve” “Everyone else is better than I am.” “Everyone has more followers than I do.” “With technology getting more powerful no one will need me”

Those defeatist voices are incredibly powerful, screaming for you to throw your precious life away just so you don’t stand out or make waves or become a problem for everyone else. Because society likes stability, predictability, consistency, while YOU are about freedom, spontaneity, change and growth.


YOUR DEEPER SOURCE OF MOTIVATION

You can tell when nature is working through you at a deeper level precisely because what it’s telling you to do seems foolish, wrong, valueless. Yet, you still feel compelled to do it. Follow THAT thing, at least a little. At least give it a chance.

You cannot manufacture deep motivation. You cannot transplant the “shoulds” of your societal mind or ego into the soil of your spirit. You can’t make your deeper nature WANT anything. That’s what’s so bloody great about it!! It’s unique, authentic and incorruptible.


PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

One way to bypass the negative talk is to simply start working. Because your art spirit is about DOING while your thinking mind is about talking. Let it go on babbling while you work, and often the problem goes away. If after a half hour it’s still not happening for you, ok, take a break. You might feel completely differently five minutes from then.

Which is why it’s also important to be ready to go to work at a moment’s notice. So what if you’re in the middle of dinner or watching a movie? If the motivation hits, GO! At the time it FEELS like the motivation will last and you can get to it in an hour or so, but it doesn’t work that way! Learn to surrender to the motivation even when it is not convenient.


As usual, none of this is black and white. You can be “following your bliss” while also making the rational decision to learn some specific skills or tools, go to school, etc.—things that may not be particularly blissful at the time but will help you reach your goal of improving your craft, getting a certain job, etc. But be careful! There’s nothing the societal mind likes more than keeping real you placated by focusing you on a future reward. Don't let this become an excuse to put off the present moment living and risk taking required for real self-expression.


So if all you are as an artist is your thinking mind telling you what you should do all the time, and how inadequate you are, your motivation is going to go WAY DOWN. Why shouldn't it?


The motivation you want is not YOUR motivation—it’s a deeper nature working through you. The demotivation comes from outside. Focus more on first being aware of the demotivation, then becoming uninterested in it, and the motivation will be what's left.


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