Creative Lessons from 2018: Quit Wasting So Much Time. Get an App Blocker

Art, everyday, Thoughts on Entertainment, Writing

I didn’t come to this conclusion instantly.

First, I watched this great video about quitting the internet for a month.

Two ideas hit me hard from this video: 1) you never run out of content on the internet. Compare this to reading a newspaper. That  activity  has a definite endpoint. The internet…just keeps going. There is always something there to consume. 2) A lot of what we consume as “news” isn’t news but peoples’ opinions of the news.

Some of the sites I was on were like that–it’d take me 3 minutes to read the article, then 20 minutes to read the comments for that article. And I’d want to read a dozen articles from a site.

That added up.

But one day, just being sick and tired of feeling sore and stiff after too much tablet reading, I decided to get an app blocker for my Android tablet.

I chose StayFocused, for Android.

WOW it opened my eyes. Even though I didn’t have a lot of apps (like Facebook, Instagram, etc.) on some days, I spent hours on one or two of my little games. And many, MANY hours were spent just reading sites on my browser. Pointless! And here I am wondering why I can’t get my art and scanning done!

So I used the app to restrict the amount of time I spend on certain apps on certain days. And like the Firefox/PaleMoon add-on Leechblock, it can also ban an app during certain hours of the day. Pretty flexible!

The free version of StayFocused only lets you block 4 or 5 apps, but since only 4 or 5 apps plague me, it works just perfect for me.

PS using an app like Habitica or TaskHero can help you start building systems that will help you use your time doing things YOU value. Leechblock is great for desktop to block time-sucker sites during certain hours, and Neil Cicierega’s WORK! program keeps you accountable in the programs you need to be working in!

And here are two highly relevant Mormonads to use for your lock screen:

A clock with different silhouetted items - like a girl kneeling in prayer, a man running, a globe, a temple, a book - is featured against a bright yellow background. Black text reads: Spend Time Wisely. "Choose to do many good things of your own free will" (For the Strengh of Youth [2011], 3)

A girl trying to hold on to the edges of a cellphone while apps around her blur like a vortex. Text reads: Don't get sucked in. Pay attention to your family and friends. Your status update can wait.

Creativity Lessons from 2018: Learning from Your Betters

Art, Writing

Writer Dean Wesley Smith wrote a post in late 2018 called Critical Voice Kills Everything. Apparently some people get so critical that they read to pick a book apart, even if it’s from an author who’s mega successful in their writing.

He recommended the following practice instead:

“Second, on a book you LOVED, ask yourself how an author did something in the book that you admire. A craft bit, a pacing, a dialogue scene, whatever. […]
If you liked the plot, outline the book to take that in more. […] You never tear apart someone else’s work, you study it for what they did right. A HUGE DIFFERENCE.”

I chewed on this for a while and later formed this reply:

Thinking back on [the above] part of your post this morning I realized this part fits in really well with how I try to improve as a visual artist. Find work/artists you love, study what they did and how they did it, and adopt the things you like into your own work through practice. You’d ***never*** study a master artist to nitpick him/her!
(And if artist X does feature Y really well or often, but not Z…then you find another artist who does Z well and adopt them, too! Choose from the whole buffet of artists!)


In related news, a fellow Mastodonner posted this great quote from the legendary Phil Tippet (pardon the language at the end)

 

Phil Tippet explains how special effects were done in his day--without so much nitpicking!

My increased writing output of the last couple of years is the result of by heeding advice like the above: don’t noodle something to death! Better to do the best you can at the time, get it out there, and start on the next fun project.

Super artist Noah Bradley once posted this on his Mastodon feed:

Sketches are a really important part of my process. Until you’ve done an actual sketch, there’s almost no way to tell if an idea is worth pursuing.

So sketches are a low-investment way to trial an idea. If one turns out particularly well, I can spend the 20-30 hours to finish it up.

I’m glad he posted this, because my reply helped me articulate a lesson I’d learned earlier in the year:

I’m finally waking up to this idea (esp in thumbnailing towards a specific end). Often I have a great idea in my head. While it’s up there, the ideal image is too amazing for me to even try and tackle. But if I start thumbnailing and playing, suddenly the abstract is concrete, and when it’s concrete, I can see what needs to be done to get the piece going where I want it. Thanks for your terrific reminder.

Noah’s reply:

Absolutely. It’s so easy to stay stuck in your own head and get so wrapped up in thinking an idea is perfect without actually making it.

Creativity Lessons from 2018: A Thumbnail a Day Keeps the Perfectionism Away

Art, Writing

It’s not perfect, but it does what I want.

I came across this quote on my Mastodon.art feed many months ago, attached to what I thought was a very cool picture. I boosted it, but also had the presence of mind to write it down on a Post-It note that I stuck above my computer*.

As far as I’m concerned, it deserves to be listed alongside the greatest art quotes of all time.

I come back to frequently. Because as a perfectionist-in-recovery it’s so easy to want to noodle and noodle (or sometimes NOT EVEN START) on a piece until you feel it is “perfect.”

But “perfect” isn’t the point, not to the viewer. The point is to evoke something.

Lots of things I enjoy evoke joy or laughter or awe or mystery without being absolutely flawless. (And sometimes, the flaws even add to my reaction!).

This quote’s helped me say, “You know what? I could noodle/add/whatever a ton more on this, but at this point, IT’S DOING WHAT I WANT. So even though it’s not technically perfect, I can be satisfied with it.”

And then I get to move on to the next thing!

*I didn’t write down the original speaker, though! If you’re the originator of this quote, I’d be delighted to credit you!

 

 

 

 

Creativity Lessons from 2018: The best quote for artists and creators suffering from perfectionism

Art, Writing

More Creative Energy Considerations: is it procrastination, or gestating?

Thoughts on Entertainment, Writing

Another great post from Seth Godin:

Low & Slow (vs. fear)

My sourdough rye bread failed. For the first time since I’ve been baking from this starter, this weekend’s batch didn’t work.

I know why.

I rushed it.

I didn’t let the dough ferment long enough.

And then I made the oven hotter, in an effort to get the loaves finished so I could leave to meet someone.

That’s not how great bread works. It’s ready when it’s ready, not when you need it to be.

Of course, the analogy is obvious. Much of the work we do as creators, as leaders, as people seeking to make change–it needs to ferment, to create character and tension and impact. And if we rush it, we get nothing worth very much.

There’s a flipside.

Sometimes, we mistakenly believe that we’re building something that takes time, but what we’re actually doing is hiding. We stall and digress and cause distractions, not because the work needs us to, but because we’re afraid to ship.

Impatience can be a virtue if it causes us to leap through the fear that holds us back.

This is something I am often conflicted about. On the one hand, I do believe the creative well can be overfished, and some stories need time in the unconscious to develop (or gestate, as the book Movies in the Mind calls it)…but I also believe if you just sit down, the story shows up–and I’ve had the latter happen to me a bunch of times, even during times of great stress!

But I feel the temptation towards for procrastination when a novel or story leaves the first section (introducing the character in a setting with a problem). I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT COMES NEXT but usually the solution is to sit down and just have fun with whatever shows up next. Beat the fear by being willing to try.

But sometimes I’m genuinely tired and need a break, time to rest up and watch Star Trek and doodle aimlessly.

You have to show up. But also…

Animated Toy Story 2 GIF: YOU CAN'T RUSH ART says Geri the toy repairer.I’m just not sure which I believe more strongly! What do you think?

More Creative Energy Considerations

Thoughts on Entertainment

This thought’s from Seth Godin:

Your kitchen table

You open the door and the vacuum cleaner salesperson comes in, and dumps a bag of trash in your living room.

Or a neighbor sneaks in the back door and uses a knife to put gouges on the kitchen table.

Or, through the window, someone starts spraying acid all over your bookshelf…

Why are you letting these folks into your house?

Your laptop and your phone work the same way. The reviews and the comments and the breaking news and the texts that you read are all coming directly into the place you live. If they’re not making things better, why let them in?

No need to do it to yourself, no need to let others do it either.

While I believe in being somewhat current with the news, I think taking (or replacing) time- and energy-sucking sites off your “speed dial” pages is helpful. Those pages will still exist if you want to go back to them, but why make it easy?

To that end, I’ve removed some movie review and game review sites off my speed dial and replaced them with some positive Instagrams and the Good News Network. They tend to update only once a day (if that) and every update brings me positive thoughts and encouragement for my day and my creative work.

Nothing wrong with movies and games, but I was checking these pages multiple times a day and getting lost on them. You can’t get that time back.

 

Creativity and Time Management Considerations

Thoughts on Entertainment

(Reposting from my Mastodon account, because I think peeps will find it useful)

Upon reading about the way loot boxes mimic gambling I stumbled upon gamequitters.com/
Since them, I’ve been musing about how much compy/tablet time I’m using when I could be producing or practicing something lasting.

My argument for playing single-player games is that everything I take in is grist for the mill (inspiration for art or writing). I feel like if I stop, I could overfish my creative well. But I also don’t want to waste my time as a watcher and not a doer. And sometimes social media and seeing everyone’s art saps energy.
The most MP game I play is Armello, but I think I’ll delete it [EDIT: since this post, I did that and deleted a few card games that I was spending too much time on].

I think Game Quitters is very savvy though–that factors that make people turn to gaming (or other not-so-productive behaviors) are:

  • sociality
  • challenge
  • a steady sense of progress
  • (and my husband added) validation.
  • And I’d add fear.

I could use more of IRL sociality. I feel like writing and art give me plenty of challenge and a sense of progress but other psychological things make me feel like I’M NEVER GOOD ENOUGH so there’s that, too.