How I maintain a strong belief in my creative work

Isn’t there enough art in the world already?

Why would I need to create yet more content?

How can I stay motivated if there are thousands of people out there who make amazing art; who provide a brilliant service; who have outstanding products?

I’ve seen so little ‘success,’ and I’ve lost motivation to make more. People don’t seem to like what I do.

Why bother?

I have asked myself such questions, and overwhelmed myself with doubt by many more, over the last decade or more.

I’ve compared myself to others (and still do) and felt shit having done so.

I’ve blocked myself from starting new things because of these concerns.

Whether it’s from doubt, failure, confusion, or laziness, I’ve often held back from creating, promoting, sharing and talking about what I do with enthusiasm.

And yet, I have managed to maintain a steady flow of creative output, writing, and content over the last twelve years.

I’ve been able to stay afloat as a solo creative professional and earn (up and down) a good living from my craft.

I’ve spoken about it at workshops, interviews and conferences. I’ve written hundreds of articles. I’ve made thousands of drawings and illustrations.

I’ve sold a range of books and products. I’ve earned good money from commissions from companies like the BBC, Saatchi & Saatchi, Sony, and Google.

I’ve done this because, for the most part, I’ve maintained my belief in myself and my work.

But how to maintain self-belief when it can all seem so futile?

Belief comes from understanding your value.

You must believe in your work and your product. If you don’t, you won’t have the enthusiasm to create; to share, and to sell with gusto.

And in this crazy world, full of creative stuff — sardine-packed with productive and talented people — enthusiasm you MUST have.

We need to put our blinders on, and continuously reassure ourselves of our worth.

We need to know that what we do is helpful for others, but also for ourselves.

I need to remind myself of my value regularly.

For example, if I have a book or portfolio that I’ve stopped sharing and promoting, it helps to remind myself of why it’s any good, even if it’s not perfect.

When I’m clear on its value, I can be more confident about getting it into the hands of people who need it, but it also boosts my creativity in further projects.

You might be asking: what if my work actually does suck?

It might. You may be in the early stages of your journey. You may still have some way to go yet.

We’re all at different points on our own, unique line.

This is why we need to see ourselves as a work in progress.

You will get from mediocre to great if you continue to have faith in what you are capable of through hard work and staying on your line.

The questions below will clarify your belief, not only in your current work but also in the work that is yet to come.

And that is motivating.

Read on*:

*It will help to write down your answers, and stick them on the wall…

Q. What are the good things I gain personally through working on my craft/making what I do?

  • Why is this important to me?

Remind yourself of all the benefits YOU gain from doing what you do.

 —

Q. What’s my one big idea? I.e. What is the most significant benefit that others gain from what I do?

Figuring out that one ‘hook’ or selling point will fire you up.

The more unique you make this, the better, but most of the ‘uniqueness’ will come only from the fact that it is coming from you.

When I figured out that my ‘one big idea’ for Red Lemon Club is:

to bring creative people to life by helping them be more productive,

…I feel a certain pride, and I’m charged up to work on it some more, and spread the word (like through writing this article 😊 ).

 —

Q. Can my work help one single person I can think of? If so, is it worth spreading the word of it so that additional people are also helped?

I.e. If your work can help, inspire, entertain just one person — it WILL do the same for a great number more.

 —

Q. What are three other ways my product/service/content is helping people?

  • Why are these important?
  • If they are not, what can I do to increase the benefits people take from what I do?

 —

Q. Who have I helped in the past, and did they benefit from what I gave them?

  • Would similar people or groups gain from what I share today and in the future?

 —

Q. Why must I do what I do, no matter what?

  • Why does that matter to you?

 —

Q. Will I be proud of myself, looking back at my deathbed, for what I’m doing now?

  • If not, what can I do to move a step closer to being in a position where I can be?

 —

Q. Can I define my work in one sentence?

Knowing your work in a sentence will give you clarity. Belief springs from being able to define what we do clearly, and the value it creates.

 —

Hope that helps.

Alex

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