Jake wrote me yesterday:
As someone who is absolutely in love with lettering as a hobby, my biggest struggle is “What’s next?” I have a good grasp on different styles and composition. I’ve shown off my work through various social media websites and have found freelance through those channels. It has been a fantastic experience.
But the spark of something new has somewhat fizzled out.
It has become harder to stay motivated and driven. How do I take it to the next level? How do I define my next goal? How do I maintain the excitement?
Maybe you can relate to Jake. Maybe you got excited about hand lettering but now you’re having a hard time trying to sustain your enthusiasm and drive.
Do you lose heart when you hit an obstacle and shelf your aspirations for another day? Maybe you often feel like your ideas and projects are beyond your ability to accomplish.
Well, everything is new for a little while. Eventually things do stop being new and there’s the temptation to always be jumping to the next thing once things lose that freshness.
But who’s to say you can’t continually be exploring new depths of the same passion? There’s a lot more life in hand lettering that you’re giving it credit.
If the fresh, new spark of hand lettering has worn off for you, that’s ok! Here are five ways you can dive deeper and discover that newness again.
1. Try A New Tool
The great news is we are not in an expensive industry here! Our most advanced tools are merely pens. At most you’re spending a few bucks.
Don’t ever let the lack of a tool keep you from starting, but also don’t be afraid to try new things! Personally, getting a new brush pen has been able to unlock new styles through exploration for me.
It helps to learn how different tools affect the creation process. You can get some new ideas just by changing what you use to draw.
It’s a little uncomfortable at first, but what new thing isn’t? That’s a part of the charm: getting that fresh experience and being a novice at something again.
Here’s a post showcasing a number of different tools I use:
Hand Lettering Pens, Pencils & Brushes »
2. Work Towards Something
You got into hand lettering because it seemed like a fun thing to do. You admired work you saw online and you wanted to learn to create something similar!
If you’re just being aimless about doing it now for the heck of it, you can’t be surprised when the spark fizzles out. In that case, hand lettering was really just a short distraction for you.
In order for it to be something you stick with, you need to come up with a goal. I have a favorite podcast episode that many people have written in to me to say it changed their life: You Have One Life – Set Bigger Goals
I know hearing someone say “set a goal” sounds obvious, but a lot of people truly aren’t working towards something. They’re not looking far enough into the future to see where they actually want to be and as a result, they’re aimless.
If you’re working at something but not purposefully going in a direction, you’re going to feel like you’re running in place.
What is your goal with hand lettering? Really think about it. Do you want to create chalk murals for a local store? Do you want to sell your own t-shirts? Do you want to work with big-name clients? Do you want to see your work on greeting cards? Do you want to teach others?
This part is up to you! Put a face on your goal so it’s something real and tangible. Give yourself something to work towards. Having a specific aspiration will make the small steps you take every day feel more purposeful.
3. Get Around People Who Create
You know how your mom always said you become like the people you’re around? Yeah, I didn’t believe her either (not your mom, I mean my mom).
Then I grew up and realized she was right! In this case, I’m not talking about people who are a “bad influence” like your mom might have meant, but I mean getting around people who are productive and prolific!
When you’re regularly around people who are creating, and producing, and publishing, and working hard to create value and put it out into the world, it’s contagious!
Looking for people like this? Join the Community.
You might even be feeling some of that with these posts (at least I hope). Reading these daily blog posts from me inspires you to make more. At the very least it makes you wonder, “Wow, I’m really enjoying these posts Sean is writing. He must be writing a ton every day to get these done. What am I doing with my time?”
It’s true, I am writing a ton, but it feels so good to create! It is kinda crazy behind the scenes, but that’s a story for another time.
Let’s face it: most people consume. We browse feeds and just scroll, scroll, scroll endlessly. This is kind of depressing until you realize what a huge opportunity this is.
If everyone is consuming, what does that mean? It means they’re hungry for content. That could be your content!
As soon as you flip the switch from consumer to producer, you position yourself as an influencer.
You might feel like you’re a small fish in a big pond, but you’re not! Watch this video to learn why:
4. Celebrate Victories Rather Than Comparing
Oh goodness is it easy to compare. You know what I’m talking about. We feel like our audience isn’t growing fast enough—or at least not as fast as… someone else.
We compare and contrast ourselves with others, but in doing so we rob ourselves! Comparison is the thief of joy.
You’ve got to remember the people you’re comparing yourself with are not your audience! Any energy spent worrying about what other people are doing is energy you’re not spending creating awesome content for your audience.
You might be so busy looking ahead to where you’re not yet that you forget how far you’ve come. Celebrate those accomplishments!
There’s no such thing as arrival. Even when you have 100,000 followers, or 1,000 sales, you’ll always be looking to grow to the next level. So take some time to celebrate your victories along the way.
5. Set Aside Regular Time
Sometimes you’re just a practice session or two away from getting that spark back. People make the mistake of thinking you need the spark in order to start or that you need the motivation in order to do.
When you read this list, some of the items may seem obvious. But are you really trying them? You’ve probably heard many of them before but actually doing them really does make a difference if you’re not feeling motivated.
What I’ve found is the motivation comes after doing. The doing is something you’ve got to put on the calendar. If you’re not feeling motivated, I would be willing to bet that you don’t have set aside, regular time.
Motivation will find you working. Sometimes you need to just start. Start even without the spark. Commit to showing up every day and the motivation will come.
Schedule time to show up consistently.
This means getting your family on board too. Tell them you’re going to be practicing for two hours every evening. Make sure they know!
This not only ensures that you don’t get interrupted, but on the days where you’re not motivated, your family is still expecting you to do it. This gives you a layer of accountability.
Put your phone in Airplane Mode and don’t allow distractions. Set aside time to focus and eliminate the possibility of interruptions. There’s no question of whether or not you’re going to do it. “Well, I don’t think I really feel like it today…” No! You show up anyway because that is what you do. You’ve got this!
We talked in a previous post about how to get ideas for hand lettering. I like to keep a list of concepts so when I show up, step #1 is doing.
If your first step is thinking, you’re going to have a bad time. The problem is if you have to think about what to do, you’re providing an opportunity to think yourself out of doing it.
Instead, be prepared with a list, go in, and execute.
Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe below! It’s a part of a 30-day series on hand lettering leading up to the launch of the new Learn Lettering 2.0.