Kirstin Borror writes: My difficulty seems to be staying focused on one creative idea at a time. Any tips?
Kirsten, I passed your post on to someone more capable of responding: creativity coach Romney Nesbitt.
You may be fighting a losing battle.
The natural tendency of creative people is to carry the seeds of many ideas at the same time; the trick is keeping all ideas moving forward.
In my book, Secrets from a Creativity Coach, I have a chapter titled “The Care and Feeding of Leapfrogs.” The chapter is about managing the flow of ideas without controlling the ideas.
I liken ideas to leap frogs.
Imagine a frog jumping in a race. The frog jumps, then sits, then jumps again in a different direction when it’s ready.
Creative ideas are like jumping frogs. An idea jumps, then sits to ponder, then jumps again when it’s ready.
Trying to stay focused on one idea at a time may not be possible or helpful.
For most creative people, two or three ideas or projects aren’t too many to keep in play.
Let’s say you’re working on a painting, a preliminary drawing for another painting and a gallery proposal. Paint until you reach the point when you’re not sure what to do next.
Rather than trying to stay focused on that one idea and running the risk of forcing a solution, give your brain a time-out. Shift your attention to your drawing or your proposal.
By working on another creative project you’re allowing your brain to maintain its creative flow and you’re giving your subconscious time to work on the painting problem.
When your brain is in flow, answers will surface. When the painting solution emerges, go back to the painting and paint with confidence. Be willing to shift back and forth between a few projects and keep your creativity “on.”
Romney Nesbitt is the author of Secrets from a Creativity Coach. In addition to her work as a creativity coach, she is also an artist, teacher, and ordained minister. You can read more of Romney’s “Ask a Creativity Coach” columns in Art Focus Oklahoma. She is also a contributor to the Art Biz Lift Off Home Study.