Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I’m beginning to see a correlation between the short attention span of the younger generations and a fear to shine our light. I’ve always thought that I’ve had pretty decent attention span. I can get down with the ADD television cartoons like Robot Chicken and be amused how fast it cycles through hilarious insanity, but I can definitely pay attention when I am talking with loved ones, reading, playing guitar, or writing. Or so I imagined. As I get deeper into my creative practices I’ve been realizing there's actually a lack of focus that I hadn't seen before. 
Whenever I sit down to try to write or play guitar, I am really into it at the beginning. I get going and am enthusiastic, but 20 minutes into it I am thinking about what’s next on my agenda. The weird thing is, it’s not even that I want to stop what I’m doing, or that I’m bored. It just ‘feels’ as though it’s time for the next thing. Sometimes I'll keep doing what I'm doing regardless, but other times I allow the nagging voice to pull me into the next task. 

I’m very good at and used to having to do many things in one day and making them all fit - going from one thing to the next in a very tight schedule. That definitely aligns with my logical, organizational mind. I was initially thinking that perhaps I was just too tied into that mind and couldn't see beyond the ‘schedule’. But I see that when I get these distracted but unnecessary whispers in my head, it’s when I’m doing creative things. And the voice that is asking about ‘what’s next’ is actually suggesting that I do tedious work that, although it’s not as enjoyable as creative time, it gets necessary things accomplished and I can visibly see the results of right away. I might sit down and try to write a song for four hours and come out with only one line that really strikes me. Conversely, I can spend one hour doing laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning my room, and wow! I see much more success in that hour. 
Ah ha. That seems clear enough. I’m having a hard time accepting the intangible progress that I make in my creative practices and I cling too tightly to what is tangible and satisfying in the short-term. This clinging to temporary satisfaction is related to the attention span issue -temporary entertainment/keeping the mind effortlessly occupied. So let’s revisit the claim in my first sentence - that this correlates with being afraid to shine my light. That then suggests I’m not willing to offer my time in blind faith to a process that I can’t be sure what the result will be and I'd rather just do a mindless task to feel as though I'm accomplishing something. 

This is what I need to let go of, in order to be able to focus more deeply and ultimately, find the depths of my creative expression and free play. How do I learn how to spend my time playing once again, and not feel as though I am wasting time but producing more results than any short-term task can provide? That’s the question I am pursuing today.  

Unrelated - or a distraction?
A Picasso painting I love and can't seem to find in poster form anywhere.


  1. I am not a musician, but I have the tendency to believe all creative process comes from the same source. When I sit down to draw or paint I experience the opposite of what you describe. It is hard for me to START because I know once I get started 2-3 hours will disappear before I look up. I've heard this state described as flow. While I can't tell you how to get into it, I can tell you it is euphoric and perhaps something to strive for (but in striving you may get further from it). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

    Also, don't pigeon hole yourself as a logical minded person. While we both know you lean that way, there is nothing stopping you from balancing out or even waffling once and a while. I think this is one of your "this is how I am" arguments you mentioned in a previous post. A good book on switching brain tendencies is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. Again, it is about drawing, but I think its exercised teach how to shift OUT of immediate gratification mode and into trusting your creative side. It also touches on the concept of stifling the light and why most people drop all creative activities at around age 12.

  2. Thanks so much for all of this, Jen - it is much appreciated and taken to heart. I do think that once I'm able to break through my wall of assuming I'm too logical to be creative, I'll be able to sit down and get into that flow for hours. The balance is proving difficult to obtain but I know it must exist.

    And I will absolutely check out the book you recommended :-) Thanks for reading my blog! I hope all is well with you and Kevin.


Please feel free to comment, discuss, challenge, or expand on anything I have written. In fact, I encourage it.