23 July 2011

the ugly side of being unfocused

When I decided to take a brief break from my project schedule, I never really thought it would last this long. I realized today after talking to a friend that its gone far beyond what it should have - I'm completely without focus.

And its making me really crabby.

Not a constant on the surface kind of crabby but the kind that let's that obnoxious voice in the back of my head that spews nothing but negativity have too loud of a voice. I always imagine her as a bully on the playground, the kind that just can't stop yapping and makes you want to go yank her pigtails so she'll be quiet.

She has nothing nice to say. Makes me doubt things that I shouldn't. Kind of whiny, generally obnoxious in every way. She's definitely a mean girl.

So in an effort to make her shut her trap, I pulled out one of my favorite books:

I've read it a couple of times. She's a no nonsense kind of writer and I admire that. I think I was looking for some kind of answer, a label to put on my general sense of blah that keeps sneaking up on me.

And I think I found it. From the book:

"You are in a rut.

A rut is more like a false start. A rut is the part of the journey where you're spinning your wheels, spitting out mud behind you, splattering other people and not going anywhere."


A rut. Damn. Not sure how I got here. Maybe its my work schedule that sucks up so much of my time, maybe its the billions of ideas swirling in my head that I can't sort through, maybe its the heat.

All I know is that I hate the excuses as much as I hate that stupid little bully voice. I've said it before and I firmly believe it: I choose the direction my art takes, the way it moves. No one else does, nothing else can. Ultimately what I do and where my art takes me is largely up to me.

Twyla says it best at the end of the chapter on this topic:

"When you're in a rut, you have to question everything except your ability to get out of it."

So I'm giving myself a week. Seven days to figure out how to get out of the rut. I'm putting focus back into the forefront of my mind, pushing out all the other negative parts that don't belong and really owning the time that is mine.

How about you? How do you get out of a rut?


Approachable Art said...

"... question everything except your ability to get out of it."


Twyla has been a hero of mine since the first time I watched the movie Hair. I was about 15 or 16 and I was thunderstruck. I had always loved dance, but this was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Blew my little mind.

Sometimes I get out of a rut by reorganizing my space a bit. I have to be careful not to rely too heavily on that, though, or it can get out of control and I find that all I do when I go into the studio is reorganize a little more.

A good way to get out of a rut for me is to go back to the basics, the things that drew me to making art in the first place. I pull out some old books or instructional dvds by artists I really love and within about 15 minutes of perusing the eye candy, I'm chomping at the bit to go play.

Vicki W said...

Who doesn't get in a rut? I'd love to meet her. I find that cleaning and organizing my creative space....taking it down to nothing and sorting through everything...usually works for me.

Kathy said...

I used to revisit my magazines when I was more traditionally bent, but now I seem to like to grab my sketchbook. BTW, I can't draw but I just can't call it a journal either. My scrap box often gets my brain going, too. Just keep trying whatever strikes your fancy until something REALLY strikes your fancy!!!!Keep working and the work will get you going.

Anonymous said...

I have excuse-a-phobia. There is something inside me that is repulsed by making excuses... Even though I am one of these people that normally has a very genuine REASON for not living up to the responsibilities expected of me. I was very much the girl who's cat pooed on their homework etc. I'm renowned for my impossible bad luck actually. Anyhoo, since becoming a mother I've learnt the art of not caring what other people think so 90% of the time I don't need to actually provide excuses anyway. Nobody actually cares. I did go through a mourning phase where it dawned on me that nobody cared... And the people who did want reasons for my 'behaviour' were not worth my time, which was a bit of a shock BUT it has boosted my confidence AND my productivity. I'm not frozen with panic and self-scolding whenever I'm behind or too busy or lost. I get there in the end. That is how I work. And I'm at a point in my life where I can handle the rejection and criticism if people don't like it. But the funny thing is, in comparison to most people, I'm actually very organised, very prompt, very efficient. I wonder if it was in my head the whole time. Maybe the people pleaser in me just needed to let a few people down to realise that everyone is just fine without my input. It's humbling, obviously, but you also learn who accepts you just as you are AND that the world goes on without me worrying about it and feeling guilty which is incredibly liberating. And that's how you get out of ruts in my and :)

Deb H said...

Unfocused and floundering - seems to be my fallback state lately. I'll have to pull out my copy and re-read it.
Meanwhile, let us know how you work it out (of the rut) ;o)

Jeannie said...

I know that school yard bully well. She is in my head right now because I am thinking about trying something totally new and with very little guidance. Years ago my husband gave me a hand crafted 1 inch square box with a hinged lid. This was to put the bully in until she could play nicely. It may seem silly, but mearly the act of closing the lid, gets my determination going. I wish you well. Your art is so amazing that I forget that you are human and can get into ruts.:-) Wishing you a breakthrough soon.

Debra Spincic said...

I don't really get into ruts but I can certainly get overwhelmed with ideas. Getting ideas organized and prioritized is a daily struggle. I have actually found that listing them in my IPhone when they pop up has helped.

Maybe some kind of a daily prompt/inspirational photo would be good to get your mind focused on one idea to follow.

Gisela Towner said...

I've been dragging my tail a bit too...
If you would like, or have time, maybe a weekend in Cleveland would kick it up a notch for you? I've been dying to hang out with you and play and I just got a new batch of dyes and stuff from ProChem. We could We could pick up a couple bolts of fabric and go crazy... Goodness know, I have enough screens for whole crowd to play -- LOL!

Linda Branch Dunn said...

When you can't focus, your brain may be begging you for a change of focus, a different perspective, a break. Pack some paper plus a means to draw, then leave. Leave the studio. Sit under a tree, take a chair at a coffee shop, find a bench at the playground. Sit. Look. Draw.

While you are "doing nothing" your brain will clean house, rearrange the furniture, and maybe get a fresh idea in the bargain.

lynda Howells said...

hi..l think everything l wanted to say has been said....just remember you are an artist and we all have ruts we fall into some times and it is friends that pull us out. keep those friends safexx lyndaxx