Try not. Do.
The Creative Struggle
Procrastination is the demon, the lizard brain, also known as resistance that we all deal with when it comes to completing just about anything. I went through 34 minutes of distraction prior to writing this article. Some say procrastination is part of the process. I believe otherwise, as we can change. I’ve been beating the distraction demon down to minutes – not hours, days or weeks.
Is saying easier than doing? Or are we just creating an excuse? If you ever said any of the following; “I don’t have, I can’t, no time, I’m not wired that way, etc…”. Listen to yourself, this is you resisting. Converting ourselves to doing, instead of slacking seems like no easy task. Recognizing that it is ourselves in the way of our creating everyday is what needs to be discerned. We need stop creating excuses and reverse our thinking. This is a switch that we flip which is the decision that changes our attitude from that point on. When we do, we get to completing everyday goals with great ease and speed. In fact, this gets you in the zone where time slips by unnoticed.
Most important is taming your busy brain. Everyone has become accustomed to being distracted by a considerable amount stimuli all the time. We need to replace those distractions with learning, whether that be an application, pencil, paint, wood, etc… This sounds easy, but the first couple of weeks will be disorienting. Stick with it, the focus will come back and you will start to love it. This not an overnight process. Time is the investment, experience becomes the result.
So how do we sit down and create everyday without tripping ourselves up with the myriad of distractions? We need a dedicated space for focus. For some of us, we can do this within our minds alone. For others we need an environment that is free of distraction. If you’re a person of the latter, then this is what you must do, create a zen den. This is the place where go to train yourself to vet out all distractions. If this means pictures on walls distract you, then you should remove them. Strip your environment down to nothing but the core tools needed to create.
You are going to have to inform the other people in your immediate environment to prevent yourself from being distracted. This is tricky for some of us, as getting others to understand it is not always understood. The main point is communicating what it is like to be interrupted with a completely different topic mid conversation – thus losing the original topic of conversation. This same paradigm applies to creating, as interruptions are the destroyer. I’ve worked as a freelancer most of my life from the home that my wife and I share. My wife has been very supportive of my efforts and is my gate keeper while I am in this mode. My father takes a different approach and wakes up in the late afternoon so he can work into the wee hours of the night and into the early hours of the morning. The goal is to create and understand that you have control over every aspect of maintaining a distraction free environment for a few hours.
Leave your phone turned off in and in another room. The same goes for those non-essential applications on your computer, turn off all those notifications, email, and so forth. No distractions. Just the tools and yourself. Over time, you will gain discipline and you might be able reintroduce pictures and such. To this day I work with mail, twitter, web browser, etc.. shut off at all times. These are mere distractions, you have to learn to tune them out. These devices are not important while you create and the disruption can ruin the zone or the train of thought you have going.
Research by touring other creator’s areas. It doesn’t matter what you do for your everyday work, but do view the studios of artists, craftsmen and the like. You have to do this in person, not a web search. There’s a big difference between pictures and being present in the moment. A good place to see many studios all at once is First Friday or some variant of. These kinds of events should be listed in your local paper, in the USA anyhow. First Friday is a local event in which artists open their studios to show their works on the first Friday of the first week of every month. Here’s an example: http://www.firstfridayrochester.org/about/
Change the way you think in order to become an everyday creator. Do not tell yourself, I am going to try this tomorrow… instead, just do it, do not leave room in your decision process for an out. I believe we are all capable of changing, because its nothing more than an attitude adjustment.