Daddy's Christmas Angel

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Creativity Focus - What Makes You Lose It?

As an art teacher for more than 360 elementary school children, I recognize the importance of focus for creative people. That’s why for the past several years I have used a little ritual with my students when they first enter the classroom.

I have the children close their eyes, take a long, silent breath and “see” in their minds a color, shape, or something else that may relate to the day’s project. I ask them to focus on that image, take another long, silent breath, then open their eyes. My intention is for them to forget about the games they’ve been playing outdoors or the work they’ve been doing in their classroom and just let their imaginations take over to see in their minds what they wish to create.

Many things can cause a creative person to lose focus. I hear often about those who have “writer’s block.” I’ve never had that problem. Instead, I have focus block. Especially during baseball season.

When I was a small child, I followed and loved the St. Louis Cardinals. In late evening, my grandmother and I tuned into KMOX, the voice of St. Louis, on our radio, and we listened to all the games. It was my passion, my focus. Although my mother scolded me for being a baseball fanatic, I never gave up following the Cardinals until I had children of my own to raise. Then, when Mark McGwire had the memorable season during which he hit 70 home runs and broke the long-standing home run record, I began following the Cardinals again. Like many other people, McGwire and Sammy Sosa brought me back to baseball. This year, part of the excitement of spring training for me and many others was getting the chance to meet Mark McGwire, the Cardinals new hitting coach.

Now I plan in March of each year to take a trip to Jupiter, FL for St. Louis Cardinals spring training. While there, we get to visit with the players and watch them train and play games at beautiful Roger Dean Stadium. From that moment on until late October (in the years when they make the play-offs), I am hooked. Now, instead of listening to the radio, I follow the Cardinals by watching all their games on satellite TV.

For almost eight months each year, I lose my writing and my artistic focus. I still write and paint during those months, but I plan my time around the games. In fact, I am so enthralled with baseball that when we go on vacation, the first thing I look for is a good sports bar where I can watch live Cardinal games!

Probably not many other writers and artists share my baseball passion, but I suspect there are other things that cause them to lose focus. Do you have a vice or passion that alters your creative time? I would love to know more about the creative focus of other writers and artists.

13 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Most of my passions are creative in nature or spark creativity. I find the summer heat just drains me on all levels and I just don't want to do anything.

Monti said...

I enjoy having an air-conditioned art studio and writing office, so unless I go outdoors I don't know about the heat. Guess that's why I enjoy baseball spring training games but don't go to games in the summer.

Annabelle Ambrosio said...

I find the activity of my family members makes me lose focus. I like to write in the morning if everyone is out of the house and sometimes in the late evening after all are asleep, which doesn't happen too often. All the chores that I have during the day is a definite turn off to creativity.

Katharine Ashe said...

Monti, what a smart way to approach your distraction--embrace it!

Back in the 70s my mom took a course with a big diet guru. He called some foods "niggling foods," the foods that you can't seem to stop thinking about until they become obsessions and you lose all focus entirely. He said every so often, just eat them, then they won't consume everything else you do. Always sounded like a smart strategy to me!

arlee bird said...

Like you I never have "writer's block", but I have focus block or, perhaps I would called it focus distraction. If anything I get too many ideas running around in my head and keep getting sidetracked. It's the one thing relates to another syndrome. I could get diverted for hours by Google searches if I didn't stop myself. When I was a child I used to do the same thing with encyclopedias--I'd keep moving on to related articles and end up searching volume after volume. And now I've added blogs, which really can get diverting because they can be so interesting and so much fun.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Monti said...

Great comments, you all! That's the trouble I have with blogs, I keep finding more interesting links to divert my attention and send me away from my focus. I used to have the same problem with encyclopedias when doing research. Now research can be even more distracting on the Web with so many little paths to follow off focus!

Thanks, Alex, Annabelle, Katharine, and Lee!

Mary said...

My great-grandson can sidetrack me in a blink. I love to play and he is my "excuse."
Making memories is a big distraction but that also provides inspiration so not sure if that counts.
Giggles and Guns

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm often lured away from my writer's life by stage plays, television, movies, and books (reading for pleasure). It's okay with me...I'm having a great time, no matter what I'm doing.

Morgan Mandel said...

I love to play slots, but fortunately it only gets in my way of writing while on vacation. I refuse to indulge at other times or I'd be broker than I already am.

Morgan Mandel
http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

Monti said...

Wow, if I played slots we'd be living in a shanty somewhere! It's not fun to lose...

Peggy Frezon said...

Actually, sometimes organizing myself causes me to lose focus. I get so involved in making lists that I have little time to accomplish the items on the list!
Oh, and I love baseball too (Go Red Sox!)
Peggy

The Yard Bard said...

Focus block is right on! Getting distracted from writing is bad enough, but I've also got several knitting projects going on, and reenactment thngs to tend to, and cake-making to keep up with, and about a dozen new books to read...

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I drop my writing for any opportunity to spend time with my grandson and his family.

Having lived in Chicago, my husband and I are still hopeless Cub fans when it comes to baseball.