Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Austin Kleon - Shut Up and Write the Book

I wrote about productivity and distraction a few weeks ago. In his recent blog post, writer Austin Kleon (author of one of my favorite books on creativity and artmaking, Steal Like An Artist) shares his methods for staying focused.


He touches on things that I'm definitely guilty of - namely, doing things that seem like they're productive (reading books about drawing, watching drawing tutorials, writing a blog about drawing) but that aren't actually productive. Well, they are, to a point - but after so much of it, I'm doing it in lieu of actually DRAWING. That's the main reason I started doing the daily sketches. Like Noah Bradley says - "If you want to make art, then you need to MAKE ART."

Kleon's fourth point - "Less notification, more meditation" - is intriguing to me. I find that when I'm working, whether it's drawing OR editing, I can usually start off the day with a good burst of energy and momentum, but as the day goes on I suffer from scatterbrained-ness and distraction more and more. I've done a few things recently to help remedy this. 

1. Going cold turkey. I installed the Firefox add-on Leechblock, and now I can't get on Facebook, Reddit, etc. during working hours, except during lunchtime. I've also turned off all notifications on my phone. The only time it makes a peep is if someone is calling or texting me.

2. Make a plan. I've been writing my goals for the day on a post it note every morning and sticking it up on my computer when I get to work. If necessary I have breakdowns for each task. I try not to waste time doing anything not pertaining to those tasks.

3. Meditate. - I have always remembered telling someone about my issues with distraction (a year or two ago) and they immediately said "Meditate. I sit still for 30 minutes every morning, and my whole day is better." I had never given it much thought, until I read Kleon's post - in which he linked to a post about meditating that put my mind more at ease about it. I've only tried it once, but I did come out of it feeling more focused and calmer.

In general, I'm trying to keep in mind that all the little things we get caught up with in our day-to-day lives don't really matter. I have a tendency to try to do too much with too little time, take shortcuts and rush things - but if I just slowww dowwwn, do one thing at a time to the best of my ability, and really absorb and learn from whatever I'm doing, I will lead a much less frantic and more fulfilling life. (We can all dream, right?)

© Gina Florio 2013

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