8 Ways to Light A Creative Fire Under Your Butt (and Stay Motivated) | SOSstudio

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MBO Partners published a study on their website (image on left) about the staggering growth of independent business owners (a category in which I include all independent artists). The infograph lays this out in a beautiful design but here’s the info in a nutshell: In 2014, there were 30 million independent business owners and that is estimated to grow to 40 million by 2019. Out of these 30 million independents, 17.9 million are “Solopreneurs,” who dedicate 35 hours per week on average to furthering their business. The remaining 12.1 million are labeled as “Side-Giggers,” those who maybe have a part-time or full-time job and still continue to dedicate 11 hours per week to their personal business, on average. This study shows that the general population acknowledges that the independently-run-business is on the rise. And it’s only going to get easier as more services emerge to support independent businesses, a booming market.

MBO Partners also found that 71% of Side-Giggers are “highly satisfied,” as are 63% of Solopreneurs, and it’s no surprise… These business owners are choosing their own schedules, setting their own goals, and generating their own income. But being one’s own boss also poses a whole new challenge: How does one stay motivated? Without motivation, personal satisfaction steadily declines as the joy of your business becomes bogged down by expectations, requirements, and “jobs.” If we’re creative by nature but growing our business, how do we generate worthwhile content again and again to prove our worth and keep our happiness (and success) levels high?

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8 Ways to Light A Creative Fire Under Your Butt (and Stay Motivated)

Keep a Schedule – Buy a desk calendar, dry erase board, or starting using that free app on your phone and block out your time. This is the first step of keeping yourself accountable. Don’t just map out the work you’re doing, but also your free time as well. This will keep your forward momentum going and provide immediate rewards for the work you’ve put in. For example:

  • (9-11a): Update website with new projects
  • (11a-12p): Reply to work-related emails
  • (12-1p): Lunch break and read
  • (1-1:30p): Call venue to book gig
  • (1:30-3:30p): Writing session (guitar)
  • (3:30-4:15p): Free time (whatever you feel like at the moment)
  • (4:15-5p): Update social media

Each day will be different and nothing should be set in stone. When things come up, make room for them. But laying out your vision on paper will keep you motivated, on task, and working toward your larger goals.


Stick with What You Know (but keep learning) – Don’t fake it to impress those around you. Mark Twain famously said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Stick with what you know and use that as your inspiration but always keep moving forward. Listen to and analyze new music by new bands, pick up a book that someone recommended to you …and hey… if you’re always on the go, subscribe to my podcast featuring interviews with successful artists and I’ll bring the inspiration to you.


Keep Energy Levels High – Vitamin supplements, exercise, yoga, meditation, coffee, midday nap… Any combination of these will keep you at the peak of your game any time of the day. You don’t always have to resort to an espresso when you’re feeling a bit tired, dropping and doing 20 pushups will wake up your brain the same way. (However, if you do crave a midday coffee, master the science behind it by taking a Caffeine Nap.)


Build a Creative Workplace – You need a safe space to create. As an artist, the most important place you can be is where you feel inspired. Working at a cluttered desk or not having a dedicated area poses a threat to your creativity. Distractions are the antithesis of creation. So make sure you have everything laid out the way you want it with art, light, music, journals, water, and whatever you need to feel comfortable. Make sure to have this set up leads us into…


Set Rituals – You already know where you like to work, when and for how long, and different tools you like to use, so make them rituals! Decide now that all those things that inspire you most will be included in your daily routine. By adopting these and implementing them fully into your process, your body and mind will now have visual and environmental cues that say, “Hey, it’s time to create.” This way, even if you’re having an off day (hopefully not this bad), then your creative impulses will kick on their own once your start your ritual.


Compartmentalize Your Projects – Keep your ideas separate. I have a journal for lyrics, a journal for song ideas, an online list for podcast guests, a list on my phone for blog post ideas, etc… Have a dedicated space for your ideas, depending on the subject matter. That way, when you go to work on something, you don’t have to weed through dozens of unrelated jobs before you find the one you were looking for. Your schedule will also thank you because now you can dedicate 2 hours to “Work on Blog Posts” and can tackle as much on that list as possible without being distracted by other things you wanted to do.


Mix. It. Up. – Let’s get real for a second. You will not be inspired every time you sit down to create. It may be like pulling teeth sometimes. If your ritual didn’t get the blood flowing and nothing on your list is generating any ideas, mix it up. If you’re writing a song, for instance, and have hit a wall, turn it into a game or exercise, such as:

  • Emulate an artist you admire
  • Start with a technique you know and turn that into a melody
  • Improvise on an instrument you haven’t played in a while
  • Plug into an amp (or turn on a synth) and find a new tone/voice that inspires you

For this blog post, I had no ideas and I let my mind go as I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, The Fizzle Show. They started by talking about the infographic I mentioned earlier and boom. My brain went into overdrive and a blog post was born. Inspiration is everywhere if you stay open to it.


Start a Brain Trust – You need people around you can relate to your business and offer constructive insights. Reach out to a friend or two of yours that share common interests, commitment, and values, and ask them to be a part of your brain trust/mastermind group/accountability squad, whatever you want to call it. Get together and talk once a month and take turns talking about where you are individually in your careers and what conflicts have arisen recently. This will give you a sounding board for venting your frustrations and provide some excellent advice from those closest to you who have personal insight and want to see you succeed.


If you’re looking for a likeminded group of artists to inspire you and be inspired by you, join the conversation by adding your voice in the comments below.


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