November 21, 2008
In my part-time, unpaid job as an art coach, I hear from folks who are suffering from lackadaisicalitis. While they may be naturally talented, they seldom produce art and have little motivation. It's easy to say they don't want things badly enough.
One of my suggestions is to try to rewire the habit patterns using the "power hour" system. This is where distinct times are set aside for concentrated, all-out easeling. The idea comes easily to some and runs against the grain of others. It may have something to do with fear of failure. "Organizational fatigue" is where a person gets tired of being in systems that are frequently aborted. In supposedly self-motivated lives, I call this problem "the contrarian trap," and some folks have it in spades.
To make the power-hour concept work, you need some sort of day-timer. While regular calendars will do, I recommend a custom one pushed out by your printer. While mine is nothing much, we've put sample close-ups at the top of the current clickback.Entries can be made before or after the fact. Sometimes it's not nice to push yourself around but nice to make note of missions accomplished. At other times it's valuable to pencil in distinct power hours for the day ahead.
Sometimes, minutes of preparation and starting at the top of the hour are good moves. I like to squeeze out first and get my ducks in a row. It's amazing what you can get done in one golden hour. I've found the system works best when I'm not to be distracted and treat the exercise as a bit of fun.
Music helps.Theorists like Thoreau and Emerson looked at the value of self-regulation. While some of us are unexplainably driven, my experience is that the Achilles' heel of many artists is simply lack of self-regulation.
Further, many say "I don't want to go there," and that's fine. For those who want things badly enough, a few items pencilled in before or after the activity might just become the tiny habit that produces big dividends.Seeing motivational techniques as games may be key to their success. To be simply on the field, playing, is great, but those over-the-fence hits that you get with steady application can make it total magic.
PS: "Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)Esoterica: Many self-regulating artists simply put in long hours and just keep chipping away. The word "sacrifice" often comes into play. Seemingly stubborn and limiting, artists often report they don't do TV, card games or other frivolities. Surprisingly, many don't put much emphasis on food. Some, particularly those with wider responsibilities, sacrifice sleep. Most value regular exercise as "brain changing" activity. One artist friend describes his daily life this way, "I'm like a zombie--the work rules me--I keep on plugging and smiling."
If an hour seems to daunting, start with 5 or 10 minutes. I started with 5 minutes and was up to an hour within a couple months. Also, find a time when you are least likely to find a distraction. Since I am a writer, sometimes I write before I get out of bed in the morning.
Morning is also a good time because you can stay in that twilight, half-dreaming state. Plus you may have dreamt something you want to add to your art.
And other times, you may just want to lie in bed and let your mind wander. See what new ideas come to you. BUT DON'T FORGET TO WRITE DOWN SOME NOTES. OTHERWISE, YOU'LL BE HITTING YOURSELF FOR FORGETTING THAT GREAT IDEA THAT, AT THE TIME, SEEMED UNFORGETABLE.
Happy Creating to you all!
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