How I Stay Motivated

Like anyone else, I get into ruts, feel uninspired, and unmotivated. There is no way around this, and there's nothing wrong when it happens. It takes practice, but there are ways to work through the down times and keep yourself moving forward. Here are some of the tools I use and how I stay motivated.
Work Everyday
Even if it's for 15min, I try to do something ceramics related everyday. It could be as simple as unloading the kiln or wiping down the studio tables. By getting into the studio everyday, it reminds me of my goals. If I'm feeling uninspired, I still try to work with clay as the inspiration often comes during the process of working. It's a result, not the spark. You may have heard this in one form or another, but it's true. If you put in the work, it pays.
Connect with Like Minded People
The more I attend events and markets, the more I meet other creative people going through the same things. When you work in your own bubble, you start to think your struggles are unique and other artists have it much easier. But talking to other makers, I've discovered many of us are on a similar path and have similar challenges. I've found this community of makers/friends to be incredible motivating. A lot of positivity can come out of a coffee break with a fellow creator.
Stay Positive (at least try)
Ok, this is a hard one....negative thoughts and emotions seem to be strong beasts. One (perceived) negative comment can wipe out 100 positive praises of my work. The first thing I try to do when I find myself going down this path is to distance myself from the issue. I try to look at it outside of myself...if I can look at what "Bryan" is doing, as if it's not me, sometimes I can gain some clarify without the illogical emotions. I also journal. I've actually been journalling almost every day since I was 15 (31 years and counting). Journaling can be very powerful as a braindump to get things out of my head. For me, once I write something down, it loses its control over me.
Take a Break
The last thing I do regularly to stay motivated, which goes against my first point, is take a break. You don't want to get burnt out which is very different than being unmotivated. When I feel it coming on, I'll schedule a "vacation" from ceramics with a clear return to work date. I may not be going anywhere, but I will not work in the studio for a few days. Stepping away from the tunnel vision of working often opens my eyes to things in my surroundings I've ignored. Taking a hike, playing in the garden, knitting by the fire...all recharge the creative mind. When I do step back into the studio, I usually have a list of new things I want to make or adjustments to existing work.
If you are feeling unmotivated, my overall advice is to be kind to yourself and ride the wave. It will pass and you'll learn more about yourself, your art, and your process... at least that has been my experience.

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