People often think art is created in our spare time, something we do as hobby. Writers and artists in books and movies seem to work this way just fine. The facts are different. An artist needs time to work in peace, without distractions. Sometimes the artist has to battle themselves and outside distractions.
Having focus isn’t enough. There are times when you want to work on something creative and everyone and everything seems to keep getting in the way, distracting you. You can ignore some of the distractions, but that’s sometimes not practical or very polite. It’s a better idea to have another way to deal with the distractions and give yourself the time you need to work.
How to Disconnect Yourself
In order to really get out from under the regular distractions you need to disconnect yourself from the world for a short time. Try different ideas and see which works for you. Adapt as necessary.
Turn off the electronics, don’t check email or let the phone ring. If you can’t get away from checking email and surfing online, don’t use the computer. Shut it down and write longhand, draw on paper instead. Just until you get yourself in the habit of starting work when you open the laptop or start up the desktop. Don’t let the Internet distract you.
Put a message on your phone to let people know this is your scheduled time to work and you will phone them back when you are available again. Offer a second contact for any emergencies, make sure you emphasize this is an emergency contact only.
Pull yourself away from it all before you get started. Take a walk outside. Get dressed. Grab a shower. Anything simple which gets your mind off your daily routine so you can sit down with a fresh mind set. You might even write or draw out of doors, weather permitting. Plan a picnic in a park, the backyard, even sitting in your car in a parking lot somewhere.
Alternate between being focused and stepping away from your work. It’s pretty amazing how much more you want to create when you hold yourself back from getting started. Take a ten minute break from it, whether you want to or not. Wait 5 minutes to get back to it. Time it so you don’t just go right back to work.
Exercise your brain’s ability to disconnect. Work in a busy area where there are plenty of distractions, noises, people, lights on and off, etc. Push yourself to find your focus and use your passion for the work to disconnect from everything – push all those outside influences out of your mind and bring yourself and your work into focus.
Dealing with Family and Friends
Instead of fighting and pushing and getting frustrated – talk to family and friends and make sure they know you need time to create. If you set a scheduled time (and stick to it) then they can do the same. It may take time for them to learn your schedule and understand how serious you are about it. But, be patient, don’t get too angry. Get them on your side rather than making it a battle or a tug of war.
Plan to do something with friends and family at a different time – give them a real date and time when you can commit to giving them your full attention.
Of course, not all family are able to give you the time you need. Parents with children will not be able to make themselves completely unavailable. But, you can hire a babysitter and then stay home to work rather than going out anywhere. You can get family to help with the children, trade time with other people who have children and would like to exchange babysitting. Take the children out somewhere they can play with only a little supervision and find yourself a table to work at. (An indoor playground is a good choice).
One big distraction you face when you want to create is yourself and the environment you have created around you. Is your workspace a cluttered mess? Do you have all the tools you need set out so they are easy to find and use? Do you have a plan for what you want to accomplish that day?
Being disorganized is a big set back when it comes to avoiding distractions. If your mind is busy or upset or angry about having too much clutter around you – it will be difficult to set your mind to the work you want to be doing. Even if you think the chaos isn’t bothering you – clean it up and see how much different it is to work in a tidy space instead. For one thing, you will be able to find everything you need and not have to move stuff around in order to get the tools you need where you need them to be.
Having a plan for your day gives you a goal to work towards. Having a goal is a great way to avoid being distracted by smaller stuff.
Look After Yourself
One big distraction you can work on is being too tired. You can’t do much about health beyond getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising. But, you can do those things.
It’s much harder to work when you are tired and barely able to keep your eyes open and your mind on what’s in front of you. If you really need to, take a ten minute nap. Set your alarm to wake yourself up in ten minutes. Sometimes this works really well. But, if you really are exhausted just take the time off from your work and get the sleep you need.