Become a focus heavyweight
I have a theory that it isn’t talent, purpose or even passion that makes a creative practice thrive. While all these things are behind what makes it meaningful and fufilling, it’s been my experience that there is one major factor to seeing your work through:
Focus, it’s an enigma in our digital day and age, where we are granted stimulation every 15 seconds to make us think we are busy, productive and socially engaged. And maybe we are, the problem is when it comes time to partake into a creative process (note the word process and not “job” or “task”), we must allow our internal ideas to penetrate our action in what is often revealed as an illusive and non-linear experience. It takes a different kind of attention span to be creative, not only in time spent, but also in doing our work consistency.
Every time I take on a new project or I am learning a new method I know it’s going to be bumpy until I build my focus. The first burst is awesome, I am filled with the momentum of inspiration and vision and I’m certain I’m a genius. Until, inevitably, I slam into my first block. Or second, or third…What happens then? What happens when you can’t get the right soundtrack to your day, or you feel tired, discouraged or “out of sync”?
While the romance of art is essential and important, I think it’s like a one night stand if you don’t have your method down: when push comes to shove, having clear focus will see you through.
I see it like a muscle, you have to build it, even if it means being mechanical sometimes. When I was writing the first draft of my Sci-Fi feature last summer, I got up at 6am every morning for months until I finished the draft. There would be days where I was nodding off at the computer, or my writing was totally useless, but I knew the dicipline was key – building the focus would assure me that the project would get done. And it did, after many failed attempts of getting a first draft done, I saw it through, and built the focus to work on the second draft without having to get up early.
Building focus is a testament to your original inspiration: the Voice. It’s the way to build a type of structure for your impulses to see themselves through. Maybe it’s a time of day that you devote daily or weekly, maybe it’s a group you meet with or a room you go to. Patiently, consistently building the muscle is one of the best ways to honor the Voice that wants to be heard.
How do you build and hold your focus?