The Balance Between Motivation and Creativity

creativity and motivation balance

There’s been something I’ve had to struggle with over the years: Creating for the sake of creating. You know, having to create stuff because you have to, not because you want to.

You might feel pressure to create because of any combination of reasons like

  • guilt
  • occupations
  • financial needs
  • routines

We all have to pay the bills and other financial responsibilities. For those of us who create for a living, it can become a grind. Quickly. Like anything, having to come up with ideas on a consistent basis can become difficult.

It all comes down to one major question: what’s our motivation?

What keeps you motivated?

It’s easy to stay motivated creating things that are our own ideas. But what about when need to create on a deadline? It’s really tough to stay motivated and excited about a project that we have to finish because of obligations.

I’ve talked before about the importance of a yearly review. During my yearly review I spend as much time as possible reflecting on the things I’ve accomplished. This helps me keep track of successes I’ve had over the past year, which helps shake me out of the doldrums.

I recently had a 6 month review to kind of realign and evaluate my yearly review, and again I spent time reflecting on what I’d accomplished. It was a powerful motivator.

The yearly review also helps give me a 10,000 foot view of my “plan”. Reflecting on the Big Picture helps during those times when you need a reminder of why you’re creating.

I’d imagine it’s a lot like changing diapers on a baby; while it’s not the most desirable task in the world, you won’t have to do it forever. And from what I’ve heard, the joy of having a child far outweighs things like dirty diapers.

The big picture helps keep us motivated while we tackle the smaller details. They’re small pieces of a much larger puzzle.

So what do you do to stay motivated every day? Is seeing the bigger picture enough of a motivator for you? This is mostly just me thinking out loud. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo by Professor Fumolatro (aka: Tripletlads)

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • fotbollströjor March 31, 2017, 10:30 pm

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  • Fabian pallares July 31, 2010, 11:09 am

    Creativity is never there when you go calling, but always there when you need her. The problem is we forget this because creativity is part of life- it is life! It is only when you become inspired that you express your creativity through ur art. Having said that I think inspiration creates motivation, there’s nothing more satisfying than seen your art evolve from idea to full execution. At least to me if I’m creating art for me that inspires me…I stay motivated.
    If it’s art that you create for money, well money should motivate you and perhaps that money opens opportunities for showing the world your art?

  • Lucy @ lucille in the sky July 25, 2010, 9:57 am

    How do I stay motivated? I picture myself in a year and I think about how I want to feel in a year. And that’s accomplished. I enjoyed your article and I am now subscribed.

    • glen July 26, 2010, 6:34 am

      Thanks Lucy :) Yearly goals are a great motivator. Kudos for staying on track!

  • Cristina July 22, 2010, 7:32 am

    Great article! I like your idea of a yearly review, and a 6 months review, too. I recently did my 3 months review – I was focusing on my goal, and it seemed so distant I felt like I’d never get there; so I made a list of all the things I’ve achieved in 3 months, and the good energy came back :) Keeping track of your achievements and success is vital, in my opinion.

    Another thing I do is this – I created a blank canvas with photoshop, and every time I publish a post I paste one picture from the post on the canvas; this way I have a kind of board with all I have done so far, and it’s great to see it grow!

    Yet another thing I do: I keep a log of my posts, with date, title, and category. It works the same way as the board in terms of motivation, and it also gives me a quick overview of what I’ve written so far.

    • glen July 22, 2010, 7:39 am

      I love the idea of a “post canvas”! That’s an awesome idea. Visualizing your successes as a blogger :)

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot July 22, 2010, 6:05 am

    Well, money is a great motivator so it does help to get paid for doing a job and paid jobs also come with a deadline so that helps too:)

    You have to keep an eye on the big picture and long term goals but break it down into small tasks to keep you rewarded in the short term.

  • Jarrod - Inspirational Words July 21, 2010, 7:34 pm

    This article really hits home for me. I’m one of those who create a lot. But for me it’s partly occupation/passion. So it’s become so regular to me now. I definitely know how it feels to be lacking in creative juices but I remember to focus on what motivates me like you pointed out. Thanks for sharing this very important reminder!

  • Flo July 21, 2010, 6:02 pm

    Great article and great advice! Love it!
    What I find helps me very much is simply change. I am a student from Germany studyin at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and currently interning in LA. Change can be as big as moving to a different country or city or as small as meeting someone new on the street or reading a great article! Change is definitely what fuels my creativity. Seeking change is wrong i believe because it is just like life… it happens!

    this is a quote a friend of mine sent me. it works perfect with my situation of working in the studio writing and producing but can be applied to so many things in life!

    ?”going to the studio everyday is a very bad habit – it’s like being an employee… you have to live life and from life come ideas!”

    • glen July 22, 2010, 7:41 am

      Yeah, I agree. I love little bits of change. It helps to shake out the cobwebs.

  • Laura July 21, 2010, 10:51 am

    Wow! This really hits home as I was sitting with my macbook on my lap last night trying to type up my own blogpost about motivation, since I seem to be lacking it the last few months.

    Different things motivate me for different reasons. For examply, when it comes to my modeling career, beautiful women who are in shape motivate me to keep myself in shape and healthy. When I used to play sports, my opponents would motivate me to keep practicing and ‘perfecting’ my talents.

    My motivation in general comes from knowing that I am in control of my life and if I want to achieve certain things, I know I have to put the work in.

    Great article, thanks for posting! :-)

    • glen July 21, 2010, 10:57 am

      “My motivation in general comes from knowing that I am in control of my life and if I want to achieve certain things, I know I have to put the work in.”

      Love it. Really, we only have a few things that we actually are in control of. Life happens. I like planning the few that I actually do, and it keeps me really motivated.