Focus – A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction: Part 25
- Published: Saturday, 08 December 2018 10:38
Leo Babauta – USA
Creativity and practicing deep focus
“In order to be open to creativity, one must have
the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must
overcome the fear of being alone.”
by Rollo May (photo)
Creativity is a fragile, elusive thing. If you don’t practice, it become rusty, blunted, something you fear from intimidation. If you let yourself get too distracted, other demands on your attention will make creating difficult. If you put too much pressure on yourself, creativity becomes shy, hides in the awnings as you sit there, stuck.
And creating, as I envision it, is a broad activity that encompasses many things – writing and drawing and designing and painting and making music and taking photographs, sure, but much more. Creating can be almost anything: coming up with a fun lesson for students, finding ways to keep your kids from getting bored, coming up with new ideas for your small business, thinking of a crafted message that will help you reach new customers, hand-stitching the perfect suit, perfecting a pitch to a new client, preparing a presentation for a small audience, and much more.
So how do we nourish this creativity that most of us need on a daily level? It’s important to remember what kills creativity, first:
Distractions. The many things that pull on our attention that we’ve discussed in this book. Each distraction pulls us away from creating, and as we switch between creating and consuming information, and creating and communicating with others, we fragment our focus, we fragment creation itself.
Intimidation. When a task seems to large, daunting, we will shy away from it. It’s difficult to sit down and create when we dread a task. If we think we’re not good at it, we become intimidated as well
and often won’t even start.
Pressure. While you’ll often hear creative professionals say they create best under deadline pressure, the truth is most people have difficulty creating under pressure. Try creating when someone is watching over your shoulder – your mind has a hard time focusing, because you’re thinking of the person watching you. The same is true of other types of pressure – it distracts you, makes it hard to focus. There are a few exceptional people might be good at creating under pressure, but only because they’ve learned to focus despite these pressures. Mostly the pressure becomes motivation for them. For the rest of us, the less pressure, the better, because it allows us to relax and focus.
Lack of use. When we don’t create on a regular basis, it becomes intimidating. When we put off creating, and put it off, we lose some of the key habits (see below) that allow us to create. T
These creativity killers come in many forms, but forming the key creativity habits below will help us to deal with these problems.