Saturday, October 13, 2012

Creative Block -- A New (found) Perspective

The absence from my blog mirrors my absence from my studio.  I have lots of things I'd like to do, but I'm having a hard time getting upstairs to actually do them.  Yes, there are a myriad of tasks and obligations that are tugging at my time (and I detailed them all for a friend yesterday), but if I'm really honest I can't blame them entirely for keeping me from being productive.

So, what's holding me back?

Ever the student (and lover of research), I went on-line today to try to analyze my dilemma.  I know that the internet is typically maligned for being the wrong place to self-diagnose but today, I think I discovered something rather compelling -- a quote from Mary Garden, an opera singer in the early 1900s:

My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and a lack of discipline.

I think there's an element of truth here that relates directly to my studio practice.  I'm lazy and undisciplined.

Ouch ...

I have to admit to myself (and publicly, I guess, if I'm sharing it here) that I'll often pick up a book as opposed to going to my studio when I only have an extra fifteen minutes.  I don't jot down notes of ideas or impressions of color in my journal, even though it sits on my desk about ten paces from the kitchen.  I could go on and on, revealing all my bad habits, but let's not drag all my dirty laundry out in public just yet.

So what am I going to do about this?

Well, I hope it's true that self-awareness is a big step towards changed behavior.  However, that probably won't be enough to get me up the two flights of stairs to the attic where I have my studio. I think I'm going to try the following (and I only say think because I'll have to evaluate this on a regular basis to see if I'm getting the results I want):

- I love to read everyone's blogs.  So, I'm going to take my laptop and read the blogs I follow in my studio. I'll already be in my creative space and hopefully, that will mean I'll turn from my computer to my sewing machine more readily.

- I don't have an iPhone, iCalendar, or any other such electronic device to keep track of my day; I use an old-fashioned calendar.  It works for me because it seems I remember what I write down.  So I'm going to try to actually write a creative appointment with myself whenever I have a block of time.  Hopefully, that will mean I'll remember to make time for my art any time I look at my calendar to see what's next on my agenda.

- I like to have lists of tasks to be done at some point during the week.  Guess what?  I hardly ever write down "Make art".  I think I'll have to change that.  Maybe I should write it down as two separate "to do" items so I go to my studio twice.  And, I think I might want to check each week how many times I actually can cross that off my list.  I probably have a skewed sense of how much time I spend in my studio,  sort of like how I have a skewed sense of how much I eat.  I always eat more than I think I do.  Maybe I can flip-flop those two activities?  That would be really cool -- eat less, create more.  Hmmmm, maybe I'm on to something else here, too.....


Kristin L said...

I'm with you! I also suffer from laziness and lack of discipline. Especially the lack of discipline part. I'm great when i'm on a roll with something and the momentum is going, but as soon as I stop the inertia sets in.

I find that deadlines and commitments really do work, so a homework assignment, or a particular class time (especially an appointment with the free trainer at the gym), or a deadline of some sort really do keep me on track. I bet your calendar appointments will help a lot! Even if you schedule just a few hours M,W,F, or give yourself an "assignment" to fill two sketchbook pages by each Friday (for example), you'll probably find yourself on a creative roll. Best wishes making it happen. :-)

Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

Making appointments to work is excellent...but you both are being a little hard on yourselves as you both are wives and mothers whose spouses are often otherwise make the appointment to have you time.

Karen L R said...

I appreciate your honesty here, Vivien. You are not alone with your struggles, either. I look forward to reading about the progress you will make. But temper your resolutions with gentleness, too, OK? Life throws us curve balls in the midst of our best intentions.


Natalya Aikens said...

lazy and undisciplined unite!!!
but really - deadlines really do make a difference, even self-imposed deadlines. I have a daily to do list that I keep on my desk, it has the mundane in it - call to schedule boiler cleaning; but it also has the art to do in it - prep base for new piece....
go Vivien go!

Cindy Green said...

I also find that I go thru spurts of energy and productivity interspersed with periods of being "lazy and undisciplined." I've come to believe that those latter periods can be fruitful like a field lying fallow, or a butterfly in a chrysalis - you don't see much on the outside, but things are happening internally. Then I'm able to pick things up with renewed energy - do keep the promises you make to yourself, but be gentle as well!l

norma said...

I can so relate to this and I feel the same way. There is no reason why I don't accomplish so much more than I do. I do feel that deadlines and lists help, but somehow, "work in studio" never gets on my list. Right now I am going to get off this computer and onto my sewing machine.
Good luck!