(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr. Find out more at my newsletter.)
Motivation is critical to an artist. Motivation is what drives you. Motivation is about what you want to do and why you want to do it. When all goes dark, motivation is the spark that can light your way – or light a fire to burn down obstacles.
Thus motivation and understanding your motivation is critical to any creative effort. Being “in touch” with your motivation can drive you and guide you – and help you set and reach goals.
Of course we’ve also felt lacks of motivation. Of having our drives vanish. Of not knowing “why.” Loosing motivation is equally dangerous, but there’s something worse.
There’s finding your motivation isn’t your own.
Many times friends and I who are writers, artists, and other creatives discuss why we do things. The funny thing is, we often have very different goals and reasons. This takes us all in different directions, but also helps us know where we have common ground or learn from contrasts. However, now and then we find our motivations to feel wrong, or encounter fellow creatives whose motivations seem shallow and unhelpful.
Something that came up in a recent conversation was this – some creatives are motivated by other people’s motivations. They’re doing thier work, driven by what drives others, having assumed “I do X so I should be motivated by Y.”
A few examples:
- Writers who think they must make a living at it. However, there’s many ways to make money, so why use writing?
- Artists who want to work in a specific industry because “that’s where everyone goes” – missing the many other options.
- Cosplayers who assume they have to follow in the footsteps of the Big Names.
- People who assume that liking games means they should be in the games industry.
Now and again me and my friends find people motivated by what they think their motivation should be. It rarely goes well for such people – they’re not driven, they’re not embracing their creative lifestyle, they’re not engaged. Hell, in many cases they just stop caring.
As a creative, find what really motivates you. It may shock you. It may disturb you. It may not even be there, requiring you to do some hard thinking or go on a kind of vision quest. But having real motivation means you’re really engaged in your work.
Don’t operate off of stolen motivation. Creativity is unique, personal and intimate – so your own motivation will unique, it will be part of who you are, and it will tie deep into your life and experiences and goals.