How to maintain your creative focus when life gets overwhelming.

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Mom, we woke up and there was a cockroach on the stove and our fridge broke. We went to Walmart to get ice and saw a man hurting a woman. I called the cops and now we are official witnesses for the incident.

Well, go paint. Paint something.

When life gets overwhelming things that aren’t part of our survival are often dropped. Our secret desires get buried and we focus on what needs done. My daughter is living through the first years of marriage and everything is a new experience. She is also a budding artist who is striving to build a business. Her husband is an entrepreneur and they work together to build his business. They have many responsibilities and pressures and when life throws a wrench in everything she begins to question whether she should paint and color the world with her vision of what it should look like.

Paint. Just go paint. Pour your emotions and frustrations into your painting. Life’s challenges are momentary deterrents not justifications for quitting. They aren’t telling us something.

Did you know that Mark Twain went bankrupt after he became famous as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Twain made a series of poor business decisions and bad investments and lost the fortune he had created through his writing. Twain could have gotten a regular job and did what most of us would do to earn the money back, but he kept writing. He poured himself into what he knew. Losing his fortune was not a sign he shouldn’t be a writer it was a sign that he needed to get to work to provide for his family.

J.K. Rowling began writing the Harry Potter series as a single mom living off of welfare. She also became the first billionaire author in 2004. How many single moms on welfare would you look at and say keep writing. Wouldn’t you tell them to get a job, get a second job, take care of their kids, go back to college, and get off of welfare? She kept writing and her focus paid off.

Being creative means different things for different people. We each have different goals for creating. Perhaps we need a hobby, like crafts, or need an emotional outlet. Perhaps we want to build a side project that provides purpose in our life. Perhaps we want to start a side business, or hope our art will become our main source of income. All of these goals are worthy of your focus. There is a great sadness in letting our creative pursuits disappear in the milieu of life. It’s like letting a part of us die. A part that needs to be expressed to help make the world a little bit better.

How to maintain focus.

  1. Admit that what you want to do is important. When I was a teenager I wrote poems. Life happened and I stopped. My hobby wasn’t important because there was always something else I was supposed to be: a student, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a stand out employee, career minded, a house keeper, and a care giver. I started writing a few years ago in response to a life crisis. I can now admit that writing and helping others needs to be a part of my life. That admission means that this is what I do regardless of life’s circumstances.
  2. Make it a priority. This feels so cliché, but I think it is important to repeat this message. Make the things that are important to you a priority. I don’t care if you ever get paid for them, or if they stay a secret hobby. DO THEM! They are a part of you and being you is important to living a great life. My creative daughter started painting a few months ago and has sold a few prints on Etsy. Her husband is second guessing his current business path. Mom, what should I do? Paint. Paint. It’s who you are and it’s what you do so paint. It doesn’t need to make sense. When life gets tough start painting.
  3. Stop looking for approval. When I tell people that I blog they either sit in silence, or say that’s nice. No one asks me how my writing is going, what my goals are for this new hobby, or what I hope to accomplish with it. When I start talking about my goals for growing my blog they stop listening and start talking about something else. You have to believe what your doing is important. Most great artists never received the support they needed for their art. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. He didn’t get a standing ovation for his creative pursuits and you might not get that either. If what you want to do is part of who you are then do it. Believe in yourself and act. No, we don’t need anyone’s permission, approval, or understanding. We must stop equating worthwhile ventures with pay.
  4. Do it daily. Integrate your creativity into daily life and it will become a part of what you do. When life becomes difficult you won’t put aside what you normally do. You won’t look at your creative venture and say well it’s not really important. It is important. Life is difficult and filled with hardships. If we let that dictate what we do we won’t get important things done. We continue to work because we need the money to survive, but we often let go the most important things in life because they don’t help pay the bills.

Today I carry around journals with me in my purse and have my phone equipped with apps I can use to record ideas anywhere. I have a “go-to” bag with books, planners, and the tools I need to work on my blogs and projects. A few years ago this was mom’s way of coping with a midlife crisis and today it’s a part of what Marcy does on a daily basis. No one questions it. They know that I am taking what I do seriously, that it is an important part of who I am, that I make it a priority, and that I don’t need anyone’s approval to do it.

When you wake up and life goes to crap. Paint. Create. Live.

Marcy Pedersen

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