Most of us here on Newgrounds are creative in some form. But whether it's lack of energy, motivation, inspiration, or time, it isn't always easy to finish personal projects. The biggest culprit for me was work because it would often leave me too exhausted to do anything else other than eating and sleeping.
Here I will address some of the more common problems that occur when working on a project. Most of it will apply to everyone; animators, musicians, artists, writers, and anyone else who find themselves stuck on something. Please note that these methods are what work for me. They won’t necessarily work for you.
Unfortunately I had to split up this post into multiple parts due to its length. So today I will cover two:
So, your mind is as blank as the piece of paper in front of you. What do you do? Most of the time you won’t get an idea from nothing, so stop staring at nothing.
Take a moment to think about creative things you admire and seek them out for a few minutes each day. Books, movies, art, quotes, tutorials, music, etc. Once you do, put it all in one place and make it easily accessible. For example, I save or bookmark art and music I enjoy and put it into one folder. Then before I start a project, I have a look inside the folder for anything that might spark an idea. This isn’t guaranteed to work every time, but I find it helps.
I have more idea generating exercises specifically for writers, artists, and musicians that I will include in a future post if there is demand for it.
Lack of Motivation:
Here’s the ugly truth: motivation is unreliable. You can’t just wait for motivation to happen in order to start doing something. A lot of times you won’t feel motivated until after you start. That being said, there are some things you can try to help improve your chances of getting motivated if you find it to be a problem.
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your basic needs first. Are you eating well? Are you sleeping too much or too little? Are you stressed? It may seem obvious, but physical and mental health is often overlooked when trying to address a persistent lack of motivation. It may be worth looking into if you find that nothing else works, or if you find a lack of motivation in more than one factor in your life (working, eating, sleeping, socializing, etc.)
Next is to get back into the habit. Routine is motivation’s best friend, and while motivation may not always be there, a strong routine will make up for it. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll work on a certain amount per day, per week or whatever you feel like you can do. If you find yourself unable to keep that promise you’re setting the bar too high. Don’t beat yourself up over it either. Like building muscle, you’re slowly strengthening your habit by adding a little more each time you do it. If you do more than you planned, great! If you do less, no problem. At least you kept the routine going.
Motivation is often squashed by unhealthy thought patterns, which I will discuss more in detail in the future when I talk about self-criticism. “I can’t do this,” “I suck,” “I’ll never be as good as <artist>.” If any of these sound like you, try to be aware of these thoughts when they happen and replace them with something more logical and reasoned. It isn’t always easy to notice them, but more on that later.
In my next post I will be covering Time Management, Perfectionism, and Self-Criticism. I’ll close this off with a couple of questions: How do you overcome your creative struggles? If you can’t overcome them, what are they? I’d love to hear your thoughts.