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Motivational Problem

Hey, just wondering if it's a common problem with other artists dealing with motivation?

This is something that has blighted my work for as long as I can remember; no matter how much I'm interested in the art I'm working on, I'm forever allowing myself to be distracted. It's got to a point now I'm calling out for help.

Anyone able/prepared to share their own thoughts/advice on this?

Replies

  • slipsius
    Yes, it's pretty common. The most successful people are those who learn that motivation is bullshit. Discipline is what you need. Not motivation. Create the discipline to work on your stuff whether you want to or not. Treat it like a job in the sense that "from this time till this time I will only do work". Start with a low time frame, and just build it up and up, longer and longer. That's how you become successful. 
  • sziada
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    sziada polycounter lvl 9
    yeah, its seriously hard at times, but literally if you just do it everyday you start to really only do it. Like I will think about playing a game and then I am like, I got to do 3D because its more important and I keep grinding. Literally if you want to go somewhere in this game, you gotta keep working at your craft.

    I find it helps if you allocate time to do certain tasks so you are not stuck on one part for too long, that way you can get shit done and then revisit where you need to later and its a lot easier to see where you need to improve. 
  • Daew
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    Daew polycounter lvl 8
    Been going through this aswell. Thankfully im more aware of it since it happens a lot. It still sucks though.

    Basically the thought process goes like this:

    Ok I want to be a better artist!
    Art is fun.
    Make art.
    Oh snap I suck.
    That's ok art is fun!
    Make art.
    Oh snap I suck.
    That's ok art is fun!
    Make art.
    Oh snap I suck. 
    Why am I doing this. Will i ever get to a level where I am happy? 
    Of course not. What is the level where I will be happy? This is a fools chase. 
    Depression. Life questions. Existence problems.
    Oh art is fun!
    Ok I want to be a better artist!
    ..... the cycle continues.

    What I've found to be interesting is not the fact that art is fun. But learning something new is satisfying. Learning to be lazy (Learn new stuff to make the process easier.) Whether you are learning tools or fundamentals. It gives you a direction and once you learned something you get satisfied. But what to learn? What are you weak at? What are you strong at? What do you not know? What do you know?

    But then we are humans and get lazy. That's where my depression starts because sometimes I just want to not learn haha. 

    And i've noticed a trend with my procrastination (ie flicking on google) It happens when I am at a hard part of making art and I don't know what to do. (no reference, no concept or knowledge). Must be a defense mechanism against hard work haha.

    Also an interesting thought. If you were happy with the work you create? Would you bother improving it? Dissappointment leads to development. I'm pretty sure people weren't happy with riding horses to work. So we got cars. 

    Oh and another thing, make sure the environment you are in is comfortable.
    Physically and in your software. Customize your software workplace so that it is fun to work in.  Make shortcuts, etc. Arrange it so that it works for you and possibly looks good. 
  • lefix
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    lefix polycounter lvl 11
    Not that the book helped me in any way, but "The war of art" was a really interesting read :P
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    Streamline your life - remove anything unnecessary.

    Forget things that lie outside of your circle of influence. Follow less artists on Facebook.

    Consider that each day going by that is not fruitfully spent getting better, learning something new, or experiencing sheer pleasure through your work ... is one fully wasted day out of the finite number you have before the grave. 

    Think of your potential deathbed regrets and act on them right now.

    If the problem comes from the everyday routine being a drag and there's nothing you can actively do about it at the moment (work obligations, school, problem with relatives), try to put together a masterplan allowing you to visualize how and when you'll be able to get out of that situation.

    More brain space = more focus.

    Good luck !
  • kanga
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    kanga sublime tool
    slipsius said:
    Yes, it's pretty common. The most successful people are those who learn that motivation is bullshit. Discipline is what you need. Not motivation. Create the discipline to work on your stuff whether you want to or not. Treat it like a job in the sense that "from this time till this time I will only do work". Start with a low time frame, and just build it up and up, longer and longer. That's how you become successful. 
    Troo dat!
    After my study and working for a couple of years I took a year off to travel, a lot. I learned I was addicted to making art which was really valuable. Also what PIOR says about tailoring your life is spot on. The measure of a man's inelegance is his ability to alter his environment to suit himself (insert her if necessary). I am sure that is enough of my plastic pearls of wisdom for today :)
  • STEVONATRON
    Some excellent responses here when I didn't expect any at all - Thanks very much! I think everyone has individually provided a good perspective. 

    I bought myself a large whiteboard last year to make task notes and quick concepts - it worked brilliantly for motivation until I moved to a new place recently and no longer have anywhere to mount it. But I'm seeing a common theme in everyone's reply here in that this is about discipline rather than motivation. 
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher veteran polycounter
    most people look at the world/taking action as this
    Feelings > Actions > Descisions  
    example: I feel tired/unmotivated today, so im going to play video games instead and decide to work on my art tomorrow. This leads to a bad habit of not getting shit done, and downward spiraling into depression/not working.

    The 5% of most successful people in the world tend to look at it like this:
    Descisions > Actions > Feelings  
    example: I have decided to become a kick ass artist, so I am going to work on art, even if I am unmotivated. After doing that, I feel amazing and successful, having accomplished one more step towards my goals and success.

    it really comes down to simply forcing yourself to get to work even if you dont feel like it, consistently. day after day, week after week. No use sitting around feeling depressed not doing anything, when you can be working towards your goals. Do it or don't, but looking to others for motivation will usually get you chasing your own tail.
  • STEVONATRON
    For me personally, the distraction occurs while I'm sitting staring at my work (like right now haha!). It's never a case of asking if I can be bothered to boot up my machine and load up the latest model, it's once I'm there I'll start fidgeting and allowing myself to be distracted by social media.

    What I'm going to do, is print some pictures out of what I want and could have if I discipline myself better, and stick them just above my monitor. They should serve as a constant reminder that everytime I'm distracted I'm wasting time.
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher veteran polycounter
    use some apps that block social media and internet browsing while you work, put your phone in airplane mode and find ways to eliminate all distractions. better to work 4-5 hours of solid focused work than 12 hours of unfocused wishy washy work. You really have to identify all your possible excuses, like the one above, and simply disregard them or find ways to quickly counteract them. 
    good idea with the pics above the monitor, lots of successful folks have a vision board to help them achieve their goals.
  • STEVONATRON
    Thanks so very much for the encouraging advice. I'm already understanding what it is I need to do, which is a million miles away from how I felt only a few hours ago!
  • Alemja
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    Alemja quad damage
    Something else I would add, that I don't think is often discussed is to pay attention to your health and get checked every now and then to make sure things are all a-ok. Legit problems such a depression and anemia can mess with the amount of energy you have in a day or make it extremely difficult to focus. Even normal things like getting a good diet, exercise and the amount of sleep right for you can go a long way to making sure you are primed to be working at your best.

    @DustinBrown I would also consider adding these videos to your page, they give an excellent amount of perspective and show that even the historical greats had problems in their career and didn't have much success until later in life.




  • Bletzkarn
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    Bletzkarn polycounter lvl 5
    IMO working in a team with like minded people is the best way to stay motivated.
  • pangaea
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    pangaea polycounter lvl 5
    Alemja said:
    Something else I would add, that I don't think is often discussed is to pay attention to your health and get checked every now and then to make sure things are all a-ok. Legit problems such a depression and anemia can mess with the amount of energy you have in a day or make it extremely difficult to focus. Even normal things like getting a good diet, exercise and the amount of sleep right for you can go a long way to making sure you are primed to be working at your best.

    @DustinBrown I would also consider adding these videos to your page, they give an excellent amount of perspective and show that even the historical greats had problems in their career and didn't have much success until later in life.




    I don't get how you can get inspiration from these.

    That is one of the most stupidest videos on Da Vinci I have seen on the internet. A good counterpoint to his video is this
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annunciation_(Leonardo)
    This was 1472-1475, Da Vinci was born 1452, so he would be around 20-23. This is one of his painting at the time with his mentor. 



     Most of his video just seems to be lying. Even if he was telling the truth about Da Vinci would that still be a good example to follow as Da Vinci is a massive outlier in history.  Da Vinci invented the tank, helicopter and parachute. He was trained by one of the best artist alive at that time throughout his teenage years.  

    He clearly was really talented at mathematics, which alone would have made him one of the smartest people alive at the time. 99% of people today would struggle to learn calculus, yet Da Vinci was close to inventing it. So that video is just silly and misleading. 
  • root
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    root polycounter lvl 15
    I'm really susceptible to the temptation to want to peek at social media every five minutes rather than stay focused on my work.  This application has been super handy for keeping me on task and accountable for my lately - http://neilblr.com/post/58757345346
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    If the problem is Facebook then there are two things you can do :

    1 - Go through your whole friends list and "unfollow" everybody. That way you'll get updates only from the people that you care for ... by actively going to their profile. And if you miss something and later hang out with them in real life, they'll have the pleasure of actually telling you their story directly and in person.

    2 - Don't bookmark facebook.com but rather www.facebook.com/messages/ . That way you will avoid even more clutter.
  • root
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    root polycounter lvl 15
    Haha oh lord no, it's not facebook.  I use Facebook exclusively as a Mom Communication Tool and I follow maybe 25 people, most of whom are family, and I generally dread looking at it because with the bonkers US election cycle going on right now I'm not too keen on finding out how many people I'm related to are like, literal fascists.

    No, Twitter is my main thing.  Theoretically I could take a similar approach to what you suggest and mute everyone I'm following, but I make a webcomic and get a lot of my gigs through twitter and I live in a very rural part of California with no local friends so between it and Telegram it's most of my social life and the fact is I just don't want to cut off a limb like that.  Instead I just limit my ability to access twitter when I'm supposed to be working.
  • Kitty|Owl
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    Kitty|Owl polycounter lvl 3
    creativity isn't really a constant. Work wise in an environment you just get on with it regardless, however outside of that I understand that I have peaks and troughs of inspiration or desire to create art. I personally think it is very important in practice during these times to go out and explore and do other things that might or might not be related to work, travel, cook good food, just generally get away from it for a while. always keep a notepad on you however so you can keep notes on things you considered useful for when you get back to wanting to do art for yourself.
    EDIT: if you find yourself getting consistently distracted from what you are doing at home despite being motivated and wanting to do it, I would suggest you learn to paint, as patience is the issue rather than one of artistic motivation (just wait till you have to spend 5-7 days before continuing a painting). alternatively every weekend take a train somewhere far away (like 2 hours away in one direction) with no entertainment other than a sketchbook (or if you can afford it a laptop with only your program you work in installed).
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    @Root - Indeed, that's a bit different then 

    Still, evaluating what is worth preoccupying oneself with might be something interesting to do. I am not very familiar with interactions on Twitter, but I suppose that it might be easy to surround oneself with huge amount of badass art ... which in turn might negatively affect your focus, even subconsciously.

    Put differently : I tend to believe that 6 months spent focusing on one's art only, with, say, the occasional trip to the art gallery would bring better results than 6 months during which one checks for "inspirational artists" and follows "art badasses" even just weekly. Because how can one focus on his/her own path and goals when always being distracted by others' ?

    (bit of an extreme example of course, but that's for the sake of the point  )
  • Caiterade
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    Caiterade polycounter lvl 3
    most people look at the world/taking action as this
    Feelings > Actions > Descisions  
    example: I feel tired/unmotivated today, so im going to play video games instead and decide to work on my art tomorrow. This leads to a bad habit of not getting shit done, and downward spiraling into depression/not working.

    The 5% of most successful people in the world tend to look at it like this:
    Descisions > Actions > Feelings  
    example: I have decided to become a kick ass artist, so I am going to work on art, even if I am unmotivated. After doing that, I feel amazing and successful, having accomplished one more step towards my goals and success.

    it really comes down to simply forcing yourself to get to work even if you dont feel like it, consistently. day after day, week after week. No use sitting around feeling depressed not doing anything, when you can be working towards your goals. Do it or don't, but looking to others for motivation will usually get you chasing your own tail.



    Really can't emphasize this enough. I think that motivation is a myth...you have passion, but discipline is what keeps you doing it all day, everyday.
  • pior
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    pior godlike master sticky
    Most people look at the world/taking action as this 
    Feelings > Actions > Descisions   
    The 5% of most successful people in the world tend to look at it like this:
    Descisions > Actions > Feelings

    - - - - -

    Very nicely put, I think that's very true.

    Also, one more point : it's important to get rid of the fantasy of the romantic artist sitting in front of a blank canvas and making magic happen out of nowhere. The fact that there are thousand of youtube videos or gumroad "tutorials" showing exactly that doesn't necessarily mean that this is the path to improvement or greatness - yet I hear of many people trying to mimic that process.

    I believe that sitting down to get stuff done only comes after one has a defined idea of what one is trying to achieve - including the necessary references, studies, and so on. A project.

    Randomness seems to only lead to scantily clad pinups, fire dragons and post-apocalyptic homeless robot soldiers. Nothing inherently wrong with these themes of course, but why bother ?
  • RN
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    RN sublime tool
    Strive to get in flow:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

    (To clarify, the research behind that concept of 'flow' helps you understand what makes you productive, bored, anxious etc. when doing some activity.)
  • RyanB
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    RyanB Polycount Sponsor

    Anyone able/prepared to share their own thoughts/advice on this?
    Delete any game you play for more than a couple hours a week.  Games are the #1 time waster for wannabe game artists.  Don't lie and claim you are doing research.

    Find a way to make money from everything you do.  Money is an amazing motivator. 



  • JacqueChoi
  • Chillydog3D
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    Chillydog3D polycounter lvl 9
    Watch Whiplash and Glen Garry Glen Ross.
  • Finalhart
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    Finalhart polycounter lvl 6
    I have recently started to see my work as just work, not a part of me. Thank kind of approach works, because in the end this is work. The doctor doesn't need to feel motivated to heal the patient, he just need to do the job. Like many of you put it before, don't have feelings involved, it's great when you are motivated and get into the zone, but if you don't have your moment that doesn't mean you can't work. The hardest part is starting out, it truly is.
  • mats effect
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    mats effect Polycount Sponsor
    Brain FM might be worth checking out if you need a little help staying focused for longer periods. 
  • STEVONATRON
    root said:
    I'm really susceptible to the temptation to want to peek at social media every five minutes rather than stay focused on my work.  This application has been super handy for keeping me on task and accountable for my lately - http://neilblr.com/post/58757345346
    That looks excellent, perfect for my problem, thanks for the share!

    RyanB said:

    Anyone able/prepared to share their own thoughts/advice on this?
    Delete any game you play for more than a couple hours a week.  Games are the #1 time waster for wannabe game artists.  Don't lie and claim you are doing research.

    Find a way to make money from everything you do.  Money is an amazing motivator. 



    Actually, I don't play games. I wish I could but I don't allow myself - so I do have discipline for some things, but like Root said (quoted above), I'm a sucker for social media. I'll sit with my project open in front of me... do a little bit of work... then sucked back towards the internet. 

    That said, I'm already seeing a big improvement to my work rate since starting this thread. It's definitely an attitude thing and I think mental fatigue undoubtedly plays a part too.
  • STEVONATRON
    Wow, I've been away from this thread for a couple days (working hard believe it or not! haha!) but these responses are excellent. I'm going to bookmark this page and always come back to it when I need a good metaphorical kick up the proverbial! 
  • 8bitTurtle
    Oh god yes...I'm plagued with this issue. What works for me is to do something that I think is fun. If you're having fun, it'll come across in your art and conversely so....so I'd say start there.  
  • Pain
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    Pain polycounter lvl 7
    When I get tired of playing games or doing stuff, I will then focus on my work =)).
  • McGreed
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    McGreed Polycount Sponsor
    I just realised recently, that the whole 'getting motivated' is just bullshit, at least when it comes to me personally. I used that excuse before, that I don't feel motivated to do this and that, and I never got anything done, because of it. However at some point lately I discovered that it's not motivation I needed (as it's not something you can often trigger), but discipline to help me. Discipline is something I can actually train up, and improve, and I feel that after having that realization, that I get more work done. I just need to get started, and the motivation comes afterwards while I'm working.
  • STEVONATRON
    Oh god yes...I'm plagued with this issue. What works for me is to do something that I think is fun. If you're having fun, it'll come across in your art and conversely so....so I'd say start there.  
    That's something I try too - but it's not something that can be depended upon because with every model there's always going to be parts of it that bore you to insanity. I think that's the point when discipline needs to kick in because if you don't overcome those boring sections quick enough, you'll drift away to check emails/etc and the work doesn't get done.
  • Greg DAlessandro
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    Greg DAlessandro polycounter lvl 6

    What do you guys do about music? Does it distract you? Do you listen to a variety of songs/genres, or only one genre while working? I listen to Spotify and have about 3600 songs, but I’ll find myself often going back and forth between working and skipping songs that I don’t want to listen to until I find a song that I don’t mind listening to or do want to listen to.


    Listening to music while I work is enjoyable, but sometimes I’ll get sick of a certain “type” of song after a while (upbeat/fast, slow, guitar/bass/vocal emphasis, etc). Eventually I become anxious and keep searching for songs that fit my mood, or eventually feel burnt out from listening to so much music. (then take breaks from working) It’s like deciding between an emotional rollercoaster of differing songs or getting sick of hearing the same genre of music after a while.


    I’ll have to try to work without listening to music/any distractions and see how that goes.

  • STEVONATRON
    I personally find music to be good for my concentration. Sounds to me like your problem is the diversity of the music you're listening to - I pretty much stick to one type and run through several albums without any trouble.
  • McGreed
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    McGreed Polycount Sponsor
    I personally love soundtracks from movies, and found a bunch of 4-8 hours videos on youtube with epic soundtracks (example ), and I just have those playing in the background (although I do skip past the star wars music, I'm just tired of that). But I do know what you mean, I get tired of one genre and then switch to something complete different, like heavy metal. Not too loud though, keep it high enough to hear, but low enough that it doesn't distract you.

  • Finalhart
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    Finalhart polycounter lvl 6
    For me, it helps me to start out, i may feel tired but after hearing a song it can give me the boost i need to start. It helps a lot.
  • Cay
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    Cay polycounter lvl 5
    I usually listen to calm music... movie soundtracks and the kind of hour long youtube music videos. Listening to Lord of the Rings Soundtrack or Gladiator certainly gives me shivers and the right mindset to get things done.

    Whenever I listen to something more agressive like rock/metal/pop I tend to get a headache fast. Also there are not so many vocals in it, so that doesn't distract you either.
    (Tried that beat.fm thing and immediately got headache and what not)
  • RN
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    RN sublime tool
    I also always buy keyboards with playback controls on them so I can quickly play/pause, skip etc without leaving my art software.
    In case you don't have a keyboard with media keys, if you're on Windows you can use something like SharpKeys to remap unused keys (like the numpad math keys) to media functions.
    SharpKeys uses a registry remapping so it all works without the need for a resident program (like AutoHotkey for example).
    https://sharpkeys.codeplex.com/

    But like the website says, if you map something wrong it could do some damage.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD polycounter
    As far as music, I would definitely try to setup music where you are only skipping or changing songs once every 30 minutes. Make playlists, listen to an album at a time, try sound tracks for games/movies, or stuff without words if you are playing with the music too much.
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