Creative Overload: Getting Back Your Focus



Lately I have been finding it difficult to focus on one thing at a time and my mind has been leaping all over the place.  It is not that I haven’t any ideas.  It’s more of a case of too many, while at the same time being busy with other outside commitments.

Take this blog for example.  I have had lots of ideas for posts and have been jumping from one to the next, trying to do everything at the same time and taking forever to settle on a particular theme which is not an efficient way of working.  It has not helped that I have been a bit sleep deprived and that is bad for clarity of thought.  Here is another example of an interruption to the creative process, but it is one that is self-inflicted rather than coming from something beyond your control.  How can you resolve this type of situation?  I have a few thoughts that might resonate with others in the same boat.

When you find that your brain is overloaded with ideas, you need to write them all down so that they do not disappear into the realm of lost thoughts.  Then at least you can go back and look at what you have written when your mind is clearer.  Since Art School I have always kept a notebook handy on my desk and beside my bed for such a purpose, because I always seem to have ideas at any time of the day.  Before bed can be particularly productive because things that were swirling around your brain can suddenly come together at the day’s end or when you wake up in the morning.

Having lot’s of ideas is good but not if they become confused and unmanageable.  You can’t create if you are in a mental muddle and your work will suffer as a consequence.  You need to separate all your ideas into small, separate boxes, rather than trying to do everything at once.  Use the old task management technique where you break things down into smaller steps.  Once you have focused upon a particular creative concept it is probably better to just jump in and do something, and not worry about the final result.  The “one small step at a time” method usually works.  Then, before you know it, you find that it is finished.  If it is not to your satisfaction you can always do something different or rework the idea.

Too much creative stimulus can sometimes hinder you from getting anything done at all.  You need to pace yourself and reward yourself with other diversions so that you do not expend all of your energy and then get bogged down from exhaustion.   It is ok to have some time out.    Last weekend Ellie and I went to the Gangster themed birthday party.  We spent some time during the week on finding accessories for our Bonnie Parker and Blanche Barrow Costumes, including me making a diamante hair clip, buying some plastic revolvers and a fake cigar at a party shop.  Incidentally the party was terrific and we had a great time, so it was well worth the effort.  After having a fun and distracting weekend of dress-ups and celebration I feel more refreshed, less stressed and have been able to get back to some creative work.

From now on I will take my own advice and work on one idea at a time, make sure that I have breaks and get some more sleep.  I hope that this works for you as well.