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.