Any time you create something in a larger a context- a book, a dissertation, a gallery show- you need to understand that you will need to have a different set of skills than if you were just writing a blog, a paper, or completing a single piece of art work.
Not only is the scope and volume larger, but the energy required to maintain the context and focus of the work is a much more significant investment.
We are all familiar with the sense of artistic momentum, but too often we think of momentum only arising from within us. We chastise ourselves if we are not “self-motivated” enough and miss our own deadlines and such.
What I find though, when I am working on something substantial with its own meaning that once I invest and commit to it, the project itself begins to pressure me for completion.
I may not want to write on a certain day nor complete another art image for the book, but there it is, the sense from the project pushing at me, prodding me, calling out to me to keep working.
Emotions and how I feel have very little to do, I have found, with the success of my results. What does matter, because without it, nothing would ever be created, is the engagement with creation. The simple act of doing trumps any hurdle I may place in front of myself.
I always cave in when I feel a project “pressuring” me- calling out to me to do one more page, one more image, to keep working, to keep pulling ideas together.
And in this way, I feel carried and supported by an energy not culled up from the depths of my own self-motivation (which is rather weak on some days.)
Pressure transforms even the most solid structures. For once, let your project place the pressure on you. Stop just setting arbitrary deadlines and appointments that you must generate self-motivation to meet. Instead let the project pressure you. Let it call out to you what needs to be done.