Thursday, April 7, 2016

#AtoZChallenge, F is for Focus

It's ironic that today's theme is FOCUS when I'm running late writing this post, while at the same time trying to cram in all my day-job duties, and trying to eat my lunch. To make matters worse, I was so rushed this morning I left my To-Do list at home, and it was a long one. Now I'm trying to figure out what was on it other than "Write Blog Post" scrawled at the very top. Grrr!

So, about focusing . . . what on earth is that??

As I'm typing this, I can hear my co-workers eating their lunch, talking at the top of their voices, and playing the radio full blast (I think it's rap). I just had to get up and shut my door. Not very friendly, but I had to do something to cut out the chaos.

Which is how I view my art journal when things get wild; making it a little sacred space of concentration, just for me. It's where I can go to rest and to play with color, design, and words in ways that feed my spirit and soul more than anything else I know.

Some of the ways I've learned to focus on my journal rather than the noise on the other side of the door are:

  • Schedule in the time. For today that meant: get up early, and write before I even got dressed.
  • Finish what I start. It's so important to me, I wrote it on today's page! It's fun to start various projects, and I, like most writers and artists, have several awaiting completion. But I do, and will, complete them before they become unmanageable. In fact, that's what I've been doing this year, focusing on one project at a time so I can have a clean slate by 2017.
  • Still, despite my best intentions, I'm constantly tempted to begin yet another new project. To maintain some kind of order, I keep a special file for ideas, and pictures I want to use "one day," but not now. Once the idea or image is in the file, I don't have to think about it again until later. Much later.
  • Too many art supplies can be a big distraction: which one to use first? A good way to solve this is to work your way through them without buying anything new. For instance, use two, and only two, items until you use them up, e.g. charcoal pencils and watercolors only. If you find you really are resisting using them, give them away, and choose two more until you find your true medium.
  • The same applies to collage papers and other decorative items. Work your way through what you have. Even if you dislike a certain color or texture--use it anyway, taking each piece from the top of the pile. Afterwards, step back from the page--you may be very surprised at how things have worked out, and well.
  • Prepare your art journal supplies in advance. The night before your scheduled session, gather and arrange the items you'll be using and place them on your desk or table. Having your glue stick, water, paints and brushes, cut-out pictures, and even some clean-up wipes all set in place for when you sit down, is both inviting and time-saving.

Tip of the Day: Create a journal section--or perhaps an entire journal--on the theme of focusing. You might want to include things such as inspiring quotes; peaceful scenes of nature; pictures of candles, altars or other spiritual images; short "recipes" for rituals to follow before you begin working. Enjoy the process, enjoy the quiet.


Li said...

Good tips. I'm going to use your suggestion about not buying any new art supplies until I've organized, perused and used up most of what I have.
One thing that I HAVE done is finally cleaned out the spare bedroom and turned it into an office/work space. No TV, radio, or phones allowed!

J Lenni Dorner said...

J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge - where I am part of Arlee Bird's A to Z Ambassador Team.
How has the first week of the challenge been for you so far? Are you meeting your goals of posting and hopping to other blogs?
My blog has a giveaway with bonus a to z challenges to encourage people to visit more stops.
I've followed your GFC.
That's a cool tip. I have trouble focusing sometimes, especially when I'm sleepy.

Random Musings said...

Great tips! I often find new plot ideas forming as I'm writing a piece and I tend to jot them down with a few notes as they happen. This stops me getting too distracted from the task at hand and ensures I don't forget them

Valerie Storey said...

Congratulations on the new creative space, Li!

J: I'm enjoying the #A-Z Challenge for sure, thanks for asking, and thanks for following. Much appreciated.

Debbie: Yes, plot ideas--I'm always amazed at people who ask where writers get their ideas. For me, the biggest effort is trying to control the flood! Where would we be without those notes??