Motivation: Dragging your tired, sorry, sad self out into the studio, we do it.

I think the hardest part of the “dragging your sorry ass” out to the studio, for me, is the sense of futility I feel when things aren't moving in the shop. This, invariably, turns into a list of things I should be doing instead. I actually hear myself thinking “well, this shit ain't selling and you shouldn't be wasting any more time or money with this ridiculous hobby.” Hunh. I read interviews with lots of successful artists and they actually LOOK FORWARD to times on inactivity in their business. They see it as a respite, a rest from the daily grind of filling orders and day to day soul sucking drudgery of a successful studio practice. They look at this time as an opportunity to create new pieces, to investigate new ideas and forms. They actually use this time productively to free up their minds and hands and let their imaginations work. Their glass is, clearly, half full. The reason I suggested the topic for this month's blog carnival is that my glass is half empty lately and I wanted to know how other successful artists handle this “half empty glass”. How DO you drag yourself out there?

I have been successful in the past, I have overcome the “should do” list always running in an endless loop, walked past piles of dirty dishes, baskets of laundry, even, on occasion, a wailing kid. I have left my husband in charge, chores be damned. It's not a lack of ideas that is plaguing me this time, no. I have an over abundance of ideas and forms to investigate. It would be super easy to blame my inability to stay motivated on my husband and kids, yup, I was going to use them as a scapegoat once again but, after I wrote it all out it rang false. The real reason I can't get out there is because, when things aren't selling and business is slow, I think I suck. Yes, I'm a shitty metalsmith with trite ideas and worn out designs. I'm not a good enough craftsman to execute the good ideas and the pieces I can make are boring and nobody likes them. Hello, my name is Ann Hartley and I'm a praise junkie. I need external affirmation that I'm good enough in order to keep making. The double edged sword of all this is when I'm selling well, I'm filling orders of existing pieces and when the store has tumbleweeds I can't get out there to make new pieces. I don't feel satisfaction in just going out and making stuff because I feel like I'm already a drain on my family's resources, both time and money. Nobody is making me feel this way, it's just built in there. Boo hoo, poor me. It's pathetic, isn't it? Even I can't stand to listen to myself! Which is why I don't listen, I do other things. I make excuses about being tired and I go to bed early, I clean like crazy or I shut my brain off and knit. So how do I fix this? How do I work through the self doubt and self loathing? I honestly don't know. Now that I have done a little self examination I know what's going on and that's helpful in changing course. I guess my answer is that when these times hang heavy, I find myself repeating to myself “this, too, shall pass”. I know these feelings aren't permanent, I know things will turn around and I'll be back at the bench in time. I know this isn't the good answer but what I usually do is just wait it out. I'll have a sale before long and I'll be back out there. Maybe something will happen in the meantime to up my spirits and get me out and working. Or maybe not, maybe I'll get an extra hour of sleep and knit myself a new pair of socks.

So, I haven't been very helpful in solving this problem, have I? Luckily, 8 of my much smarter and much more helpful Etsymeal teammates are blogging on exactly the same topic! Check out their blogs, one of them is SURE to have the answer!!!

1. - Nina Gibson
2. - stacey hansen
3. - Danielle Miller-Gilliam
4. - Victoria Takahashi / Experimetal
6. - Brooke Medllin
7. - Beth Cyr
8. - 2Roses


  1. do you have an etsy shop for knit things? maybe if you had two different things going, you wouldn't get down on yourself. Its easy to do. I know I've been surprised when people I viewed as being over the top put together and successful have those same feelings.

  2. Oh dear, I know the feeling!
    What I notice is the fact that you feel bad about your hobby/shop/business - sucking up time and money. I think that's a woman thing, don't you? Show me the man who feel guilty about following a soccer (or other sprots team) every week-end, playing himself and even travel to see his heroes. He will only feel bad about it if his woman makes him.
    We women are capable of feeling guilty all by ourselves -no problems! Silly, really.

    Relax. There are up-and down periodes to everything, including spouses, kids, your favourite hobby, pet etc. It's natural, so don't fret about it.

    Take a break and deliberately do something (timeconsuming) else. You'll be pining for your workshop soon enough!

    And just for the record: I love your stuff!

  3. HA! Karin, you're totally right! I thought about writing that but I didn't want to get into the whole "man vs. woman thing" but you're completely right!!! Beth, I thought about it, the knitting shop, but it gets complicated because I'm not good enough to write my own patterns!!!! :)

  4. i praise you for your honesty and putting it all out there!
    i can relate to some things you say.
    thank you!

    (pssst~ EM challenges help to suck me out of my little funks and get that creativity wheel turning and then the praise junkie you speak of gets a pat on the back too)

  5. Sigh.....I so wish I could knit, just can't get the hang of it. I bet knitting is a good chill-out activity.


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