The Creative Process of Distraction
There’s a lot I want to do with my life. I’d like to think that most people have a similar approach with their own life. But it’s very hard for me specifically to organize everything in my head and stay on one task at a time. I want to tell you a little bit about some of the things I’ve been wanting to do and what it’s like to be constantly distracted by something else at the same time. How would I describe it?
Let’s say an idea that I have is represented by a pinball and my brain is the pinball machine. My brain rattles around that idea for a while and everything seems to be going fine. But then, after some time, I get multi-ball. Now I have so many ideas going on in my head at the same time and I can’t keep track or focused on any particular one. I don’t even know where my original idea went. I spent so much time and energy trying to keep the ideas in line and organized, but eventually, I always lose them all. Even the original one I had.
So yeah, it’s frustrating.
Leonardo Da Vinci (who said the above quote) is one of my idols. He was also one of the most brilliant and creative minds in human history. However, Da Vinci was notoriously distracted by everything and because of that, he didn’t get to finish a majority of his art, experiments, inventions, or journals. Most people don’t know this, but Da Vinci was actually the first choice by the Vatican to paint the Sistine Chapel. But Pope Julius II decided to go with the Michelangelo instead because the pope feared Da Vinci would die of old age before finishing the job. My point is that in the minutest of comparisons, Leonardo Da Vinci-grandmaster Renaissance artist-and I have something in common.
Naturally, I’ve been trying to write more. But then there’s everything else that I want to do. There are all those periodic obsessions I have with new and exciting subject matters that I want to learn about.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, maybe you’ve seen a pattern of certain subject matters getting several posts and updates in concurrency from time to time. The most obvious ones off the top of my head recently have been subject matters regarding anything Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ready Player One, or Batman related. I’m trying to be more versatile in my posts. I want to be. There’s more to me than just those three topics. There’s more to me than just video game and film subject matters.
Alright, that’s enough gas-bagging for one introduction. In the words of every comedian from a previous era:
“But seriously, folks…”
If any of you have ever read my BIO page on this thing, you’d know that I’ve had many fleeting career hopes when I was a kid. All of which were quite random and unrelated. All of which whose subject matter still intrigue me to varying degrees to this day. Navy SEAL and magician. Voice-over actor and forensic anthropologist. You get the idea.
When I started taking writing seriously, I learned very early on that I can create characters that I could vicariously live through and they could do all the things I will likely never be able to do in my real life; this realization has been both very freeing and very frustrating.
So what’s supposed to be replacing all of my Internet time as I realize the irony of taking the time to write this for the sole purpose of posting it on the Internet?
Reading is at the top of my the list. A dedicated writer is constantly reading because believe it or not, many of a writer’s ideas for new stories come from stories that have already been written. Also if necessary, I’ll read a few books for research for a particular story that I want to write. For example, Ripper took me ten years to write in part because of all the research I had to do first.
I’ve been researching new books, articles, and current events that I would want to read as well as classics I probably should have read long ago but never got around to it. Books like: 1984 by George Orwell or as I understand it to be (and maybe I’m wrong) “The Little Anarchists First Handbook” or “V for Vendetta for Dummies.” I want to read White House Ghosts by Robert Schlesinger. It’s a non-fiction book about the presidential speechwriters throughout American history. I want to also read about real-life pirates during the colonial era. I want to read more science fiction. There’s a plethora of others. Whenever I go to the used bookstore down the street from my studio or walk into any Barnes and Noble, I get so inspired to want to do absolutely nothing but consume all the information there. Just plug me into the Matrix at that point. But sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for because I don’t really know what I’m looking for. That’s also frustrating. I came across a very interesting quote the other day from novelist Toni Morrison who said: “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” That very notion is something I definitely want to take on. (Maybe I already am…)
Several attempts have been made to teach myself certain new skills for a variety of reasons. The one I’ve been most set on lately learning is Photoshop. I’ve always wished I could draw well, but I can’t. Stick figures are a challenge for me. But I love looking up fan artwork of original movie poster concepts and character art. I even have an entire photo album dedicated to them on my laptop and I’ve always wanted to make my own. My friends and I have collaborated on so many amazing ideas that I don’t want to reveal on here that need to be conceptualized in this medium.
I want to take awesome pictures. Or at least pretend to know how to take them. (This would coincide with learning Photoshop.)
I want to travel. Everyone wants to travel; or should. Now we’re getting into things that require as much money as it does time. I want to return to Tenerife to visit family. I want to go to Japan to watch a sumo match and play Street Fighter against one of those Japanese pro gamers. I want to go to a pub in Ireland and get into a lovingly drunken brawl. I want to go to Thailand and bathe a baby elephant. I want to go to Cuba and see where my parents and grandfather grew up. I want to see Cuba while it’s still Cuba. (The classic cars and architecture part, not the dictatorship and political prisoners part.) I want to go back to The Louvre in Paris now that I can actually appreciate it unlike when I was nine and had no comprehension of what was going on around me.
The question, of course, is how can I focus on one task at a time? How do I dedicate my time and myself to one ideal at a time? How can I overcome the blessing and curse that are creativity and distraction?
There are a few things I’ve done that have worked with helping me be as productive as possible. First of all, I make a list or schedule. Writing one down helps me stay organized and forces myself to stay on point. Second, disconnect the wifi. No wifi means no internet and no internet means no billions of potential distractions at your fingertips. Third, turn off the phone. Don’t let people or apps distract you from being productive and making the most of your time.
Before Bradley Cooper got really famous, he did a movie called Limitless where he played a struggling writer unable to find his inspiration. He takes this pill and all of the sudden the floodgates in his mind open enabling him to access the creative and physical peaks of his brain. How can I get my hands on that pill?