Hello, friends! It’s been a long time, and I apologize for not meeting my consistent post commitment for the past…well, months. My radio silence has not technically been intentional, but has to do with the topic of today’s post: motivation. What is it? How can you hold on to it? Can it be manufactured? (I’m actually asking; I’d really like to know.)
Now, I’m conscious that everything I’ve written so far has been focused on my personal journey and has mostly been about my mental health; this is not my plan for every blog post I write, but I’d like to think you will get more out of these posts if you get to know me better. After all, most of us can only really draw from our own experiences and I think it’s important to share them. Already I’ve received correspondence from readers, commenting on how they related to something I touched on and how it was a relief to see they weren’t alone in their feelings and experiences. (Thank you! To those who have reached out to me!)
I’ve added a question mark to the title of this because I often don’t think I possess motivation. I know in reality that isn’t true, but I feel like I experience true motivation so infrequently that I barely have a concept of what it is. Practically my whole life, I’ve assumed that I am an incredibly lazy person. It took seeing a therapist for a few months to realize that’s not what I am. I’ve always wanted to achieve things…I want to sit down and finish a drawing, I want to write and publish a blog post, I want to tell a client I’ve FINALLY finished the piece they’ve commissioned, I want to be a better artist and a better person.
But, as I’ve said before, within minutes of sitting down to do the thing I got motivated for, my energy just drains from my body. I become exhausted no matter the task. So I have a handful of days, a week at a time if I’m lucky, where it seems the stars have aligned and I work on my projects and do market research and update my website all day long without any effort at all. Naturally, this predicament is… not good for someone trying to make a living as a professional artist/designer/illustrator.
Do I have depression or am I just lazy? is a difficult question to come to terms with because some qualities of being lazy overlap with symptoms of depression. But here’s the big difference: with laziness, you typically lack motivation for only certain tasks. We all have these moments, where the thought of emptying the dishwasher is just too much so you stack another bowl on the leaning tower of dishes already in the sink. The lack of motivation to study or do assigned reading. Not feeling like cooking an actual semi-healthy meal and instead sitting in the Panera drive-thru.
However, with depression (and I’m not saying everyone with depression experiences this or that people who do have depression, I’m no doctor) the big difference is the lack of motivation to do anything you usually enjoy doing. Maybe you usually pick up a book when you just don’t feel like working, but suddenly the words on the page hold no interest to you. Playing video games is no longer a way to blow off steam because these games you used to love make you bored or sleepy. Very little brings you anything even close to joy, so you end up doing nothing, but that’s just as bad as doing something, so instead you escape into your dreams. Again, I feel I need to stress that this may not be true for everyone experiencing depression, and there are different levels of depression, too, where a few things bring light into the darkness. But this is how I’ve felt—not all the time, mind you, it comes in waves—and for now, I can only speak for myself.
So, to my fellow creatives who also struggle with motivation or maintaining the energy or interest in doing your work, in doing what you love: How do you succeed? What do you do to get started and continue a task? How do you make a living when you don’t want to create?
Ideally, I hope in a future post to get into some techniques and maybe even some research (gasp!), but for now I’d like to hear from you and people you know. Even if you don’t have the answers, reach out! Let’s feel the feelings together!
And on that note, in general: What would you like to know? I’d much rather write about topics you all would like to read about. I can’t promise I’ll be able to answer it or touch on the subject for a while, but please reach out in the comments, click the “Ask me anything!” link in the sidebar, or email me at maddie[at]maddiehuddleart.com.
Finally (I promise), I’d love if readers would subscribe to my email newsletters so you don’t miss anything! Emails will typically come once a month, but will include discounts, new and in progress art, and other Maddie Huddle Art news. You can opt out of emails at any time and I do not share anyone’s personal information.
Thanks for reading and until next time!