Action Has to Come Before Motivation

I see many discussions in art circles around finding motivation or getting inspired.

The more I draw and am learning to deal with the natural ups and downs of the creative cycle as well as the fickleness of inspiration and motivation, the more I’m feeling we have it all backwards.

I rarely feel motivated to draw. I’ve struggled a lot with my health in the past years and rarely feel „inspired“. Many days I haven’t even felt baseline good. If I waited until I did, I would pretty much never draw.

I’m finding that motivation is often the result of my actions, not a precursor.

I become motivated when I make interesting discoveries during my work. When I‘m experimenting and something clicks and I start to get excited about what I‘m working on. That‘s the moment I begin to feel motivated. I become inspired when I break through my own perceived limitations and take a piece to the next level.

Then there are days I do feel inspired because I’ve been having a good week and I sit down to draw and it goes well for about five minutes and then I hit the inevitable point where the drawing gets hard.

If I relied on motivation or inspiration to keep me going, that’s the point where the drawing would die. Because I‘m learning not to do so, I know that I have to sit out that discomfort and keep going. Often I hit another phase where things flip the other way and I get curious and fascinated and things get fun again. Often I don‘t and that’s also fine.

I‘m always proud when I keep going and finish the piece. That helps motivate me now. However, that motivation wasn‘t there when I started, the work had to come first.

When we work we generate ideas, we get excited, we get inspired, we get caught up in the process. And sometimes it‘s a hard slog through the whole drawing and the only satisfaction we get is that we didn’t quit and that helps motivate us next time. The knowledge that we can do hard things. That we are willing and able to struggle for the the things we love. And that the rewards on the other side are beyond anything we could have hoped for.

Action has to come before motivation. Motivation is the result, not the driving force.

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