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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

Creative Spirit Blog February 26, 2022 Just Get Going!

Winter Morning Lake Woodruff Pastel over Watercolor

“You don’t need to feel good to get going. You need to get going to give yourself a chance to feel good”. Brad Stulberg

The inspiration for artists comes from many different sources. We can find inspiration in nature, our surroundings, books we read, magazines, movies, television shows, music, travel, emotions, memories, our sketchbooks, other artists, and our own artwork.

But we all know that even the most inspired, positive people have their down days. And as artists we all have days, we look at the canvas and say, “what now?”

We have all been told, myself included, that a positive attitude, enthusiastic mood, and inspiration are key elements needed to produce strong art and have a full life. But that’s not entirely true or possible. It’s not easy to force ourselves to get going when we don’t feel like it. Sometimes life gets in the way, we get in a rut, we are out of our routine, or merely feeling a bit off. We have all been there. And we have probably all experienced this feeling a lot in the past two years. Life is never without its ups and downs.

But, according to scientific psychological science, a more accurate representation of the relationship between motivation and action is: “you don’t need to feel good to get going—you need to get going to give yourself a shot at feeling good.” It appears to be one of the most valuable and evidence-based concepts for mental health, well-being, performance, and living a deep and meaningful life. Mood follows action!

Intrusive thoughts are tough. Getting rid of negative self-talk is also tough. It takes a lot of concentration and a lot of, “I am not going to go there!” Being conscious of what we are doing and ignoring the voice inside our head is a start. The next step is to take action! By doing something, we replace negative thinking with positive thinking. We sort of trick ourselves into feeling motivated by changing our behavior.

We might even find that taking action, will increase our motivation, which will make it easier to keep going. Self-motivation can be hard for a lot of people. Many people work much better when given a direction.

Some ideas that might help:

  • Create a data base of ideas: Collect picture of things that excite you so you can look back on them: A group of trees, a pile of rocks, the runoffs at the beach, interesting patterns found in architecture or nature, a works of art.

  • Fill your workspace with motivational statements, and things that inspire you.

  • Have a pile of scrap paper to doddle on and make a file of the doodles.

  • Read a new “how to” art book or watch a video on a new process,

  • Cut up scraps of paper and spill them on a surface and start re-arranging them.

  • Make lines on a paper and respond to them.

  • Paint or paste down a format using 3 values and let it speak to you. (My personal favorite)

  • Fill a can with silly activities, to do for 5 or 10 minutes. Pull one out and play with it: I.e.: draw an upside down man, make something using a circle, square and triangle, put 50 dots on your paper and follow them with a pencil, contour draw what’s in front of you, paint to music, finger paint, draw a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers with your non-dominant hand, cut up a magazine picture and put it together again, paint with a stick. In 10 minutes, your attitude will have changed, and you will have taken an action.

Our emotions play a major role in our motivation level. If we are bored, sad, lonely, over scheduled, not feeling well, or anxious, our desire to tackle a tough project or complete a task will suffer. Everyone struggles with motivation issues at one time or another. It is the way we respond to our lack of motivation that matters.

"Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too. If she doesn’t show up invited, eventually she just shows up". Isabel Allende

Just go work! Stay safe. Carolyn

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