3 years ago I started making Youtube videos for fun. Over 100 videos later, very little gain in followers, and way too many fidget spinners and slime to count, I eventually lost the drive to create content. So I quit.
1 year ago I started taking piano and keyboard lessons. Things started out great. Piano was a fun and relaxing escape, but eventually lessons became difficult and tiresome, and my 9–5 increasingly draining. Plus, I hadn’t turned into Adele after 6 months of practice. So I quit.
About 3 months ago I purchased a ‘self-help” guide on motivation. The writer emphasized the importance of working first and playing later. I tried planning my life around this book’s recommendations, but eventually grew tired of taking the trash out before watching Netflix, or working out before relaxing by playing a mindless video game. In short, I got tired of always doing the “responsible” thing first. So I quit.
Clearly, I have always struggled to stay motivated creatively, and quick motivation hacks do not work for me in the long run. Because of this, I haven’t been able to put out as much work as I would like. However, this year I’ve made a commitment to be more intentional about writing and blogging, and I’m slowing inching towards my goals. I put this list together because these are some of the only things that have kept me going creatively. There are no quick fixes here, only honest, habit-forming practices. Trust me, I’m still fighting to stay motivated, but I’m using this piece as a form of accountability for the future, and hoping it’ll help a fellow procrastinator out.
Identify What Keeps You Unmotivated
I am a self proclaimed Failed Youtuber. Sure, I gained some on camera and editing experience, but I never reached a level where I had a consistent following, made money, or even enjoyed making videos fully. Let me be clear, I was spending at least 25–30 hours (on top of my full time job) a week filming, editing, and promoting videos. And when I wasn’t actually making videos, I was canceling social outings with friends to research popular tags and worry about how well my videos were doing. I definitely went past the point of obsession unfortunately.
This is why I consider much of my time on Youtube a “failure”. However, I have no shame about this, because these experiences informed a lot of what I write about today.
I readily admit this made me a little jaded from social media in general. I never got into Youtube to chase fame, I genuinely admire the creative freedom it gives content creators. BUT truthfully, it became difficult to see the big names on Youtube getting paid millions to buy luxury cars, fill them up with water balloons, and push them into their pools (ok that might have been an exaggeration).
I know that comparing myself to others on social media is what makes me feel discouraged. My negative experiences on Youtube made me hesitant about producing any creative content AT ALL.
Once I learned this, I decided to step away from social media and just write for myself, and my work improved immensely. Take time to think about what stops you from feeling motivated, identify it, and learn how push that thing out of your mind.
Force Yourself to Form a New Habit
I’ve read that it takes 3 weeks to form a new habit. For me, it feels like it takes at least 3 months. Especially when it’s so easy to get distracted by the latest season of whatever show Netflix is currently producing. I’ve learned that I have to literally force myself to sit down and write sometimes, and that’s ok.
I hate that it often seems like I’m putting myself into “time out” as punishment, but sometimes that’s what it takes to get my creative wheels spinning.
Realistically no matter what your passion is, there are just some days where you don’t feel like doing it. And anyone who says otherwise is lying.
Create a REALISTIC schedule you can stick to, and have a running list of ideas to write on at all times.
Focus on Short Projects First
At the beginning of the year, I decided to get started on the novel I’ve had an idea for since college. After a few months, I scrapped that idea and started a shorter essay series or (hopefully) book on dating and love. Although I’ve made some progress, I’ve quickly learned just how daunting the process of writing an entire book can be. I realized that for me, it’s better to have a project I can start and finish the same day, every single time I sit down to write.
Give yourself a short attainable goal every time you start a task.
If you’re working towards improving your fitness, set a goal to work out for 30 minutes, then increase to 45, and so forth. If you’re writing long form, focus on completing 5 pages a day, or 2, or even just one scene every time you write. And if you’re planning on becoming a famous Youtuber, go purchase as many water balloons as you can get your hands on right now!
Leave your tips for staying motivated below!