Changing #Procrastination Creatively

Beachy Head by A.K. Andrew
Gouache on Card

Procrastination is the master of endless lists, even for things we supposedly want to do – I don’t have time, my artwork sucks, not enough room, too busy to focus, too tired, too________. You name it. They’re all valid reasons. Work, children, ill-health and a myriad of other things stop us from doing what we love. But if we love it so much why do we self-sabotage? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Anticipation creates as many reasons to stop as to start.  If you want to change procrastination, sometimes changing the way we do things creatively can provide a  solution to why we find it hard to pick up the tools of the trade. Shake things up and see what falls out. If you can’t do one thing do another.

I didn’t come to this conclusion by choice, but through developing Lupus, an auto-immune condition. I’ve been a visual artist for over twenty years, but  health problems started overnight almost thirteen years ago. My mobility was severely affected by joint and muscle pain, as well as fatigue. Creatively, it became a learning process of changing how to do things in order to continue doing what I loved.

Painting large canvases standing at an easel, now out of the question, became small works sitting down. Stretching my own canvases was impossible and pre-stretched canvases were initially traded in for flat canvas or paper. Oils became acrylics or watercolors, and long sessions switched to short ones.

Pacing myself is everything. At first I hated it. All of it. But I was determined not to give up. Then I found the challenge of being forced into new ways of working affected the creative process. The change became a source of creativity itself and I produced work I’d never otherwise have done. Procrastination was booted out.

More importantly, I also started writing. At first it was just a journal, but I read so much, I thought why not write? Illness jumpstarted my creative writing, but writing helped me through the process of dealing with my illness.  Synchronicity at it’s best. Writing can be a problem because of joint pain, but it’s something I can do in short bursts, more easily than getting out painting materials. I also use voice activated software when I need to.

Cat Doodle by A.K.Andrew
drawn in SketchbookX on iPhone

I’ve recently been re-introduced to computer art   by Susan Cooper* This has been SO fantastic and I’ve been painting on my iPhone. Now that’s a pretty small canvas! And the non-existent cleanup, leaves more energy for painting. Remember how much fun drawing and painting were when you were  child? Well it can be now. Right now. Whatever age you are. It doesn’t matter what it looks like – no-one’s  going to see it unless you want them to. It’s just fun to doodle. Instead of being bored on your train commute home, or waiting for a dental appointment, why not doodle on your phone or ipad?

For a  ‘painterly’ app, I’d recommend either ‘Brushes’, which is the app David Hockney uses, or ‘ArtRage’ which is a live simulation of the properties of real paint. Both are good for drawing too. At £1.59 for the app, you can’t beat it.  There are also lots of free apps to choose from. (SketchbookX & iDraw are two I’ve used)

 

City Summer Rain by A.K.Andrew
Painted  in ArtRage on iPhone

Blue Mountains by A.K.Andrew
Painted in ‘ArtRage’ on iPhone

We all have things holding us back from what we want to do, but I say if you can’t be a full time artist,  find ten minutes at lunch to write a few lines about a character, or make a sketch for your next painting. After the kids are in bed and you’re tired, jot down a few ideas, knit a few rows , think about what glaze to use in your next ceramic project. If you can’t do one thing do another – keep it small, think ‘different’ and you’ll be able to toss procrastination out with the garbage.

Illness has been a great teacher – I’ve learned to embrace change instead of fighting it, which leaves me open to try new things creatively, or use new tools. When procrastination comes knocking I look for different options. Are you ready to join me?

What draws you away from your creativity? Are there ways you can think of to break things down so that you can take smaller, more manageable steps?

Let me know. I’m always looking for new ways to do things.

 

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Flood by A.K.Andrew
Painted on iphone in ArtRage

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Comments

  1. I’m sorry to read you have so many health challenges. I love looking at the cliff on the top left. I haven’t tried any painting on phone – that wouldn’t appeal to me at this point, anyway. Last week I did have the opportunity to do one watercolor. A friend came to visit, and she did her thing while I painted a small watercolor.

    I may post it on my other blog (http://www.leoraw.com/blog/).

    My challenges (besides work) are my family. My father (who is 83) hurt himself badly on Friday. It is hard to get him to agree to help. My husband is often helpful, and my children can be a mix of needing help themselves and being helpful. I treasure Sunday mornings, when I don’t do much “work” other than laundry.
    Leora recently posted..What’s Your Sales Pitch?My Profile

    • Thanks Leora for your comments. Glad you liked the Beachy Head Painting – The cliffs are the same type of chalk cliffs as the more famous “White Cliffs of Dover”. Beachy Head, unfortunately, is locally known as a suicide spot, despite it’s beauty. Kind of like the Golden Gate Bridge.
      Sorry to hear about your father – I do hope he has a good recovery. People of that age, are not always the best at accepting help, & see it as a failing. My aunt was exactly the same until she broke her hip & had no choice.
      I’m so glad you pointed out your other blog – I love all the photographs. I think a watercolor would totally fit in. Asbury Park looks pretty great actually – especially the beach. Do you have a way to subscribe other than RSS ? Good to see you here again:-)
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Changing Procrastination CreativelyMy Profile

  2. Sorry to hear of your health challenges. I am not an artist in any way shape or form unless you count writing. Writing is my passion. What draws me away from my passion is my day job. Sometimes my energy is so depleted from that I have no energy left to write. For me that is not good. Writing is my passion and my therapy. If I don’t write, I am not a happy camper. I am working on finding ways to ensure I get to write everyday.
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    • Thanks so much for your comment. I can’t imagine why you would not think of yourself as an artist if you’re a writer? Yes …you’re an artist!
      Finding the energy at the end of the day after a full-time job is a big problem for lots of people. Glad you’re trying ways to fit it in each day though – it’s really therapeutic, I find too. Sometimes , if I don’t have much energy, I might just edit a couple of sentences. Pretty much anything to keep in touch with the work. If I don’t actually write, then I might at least think of the plot, or a scene. Keep hold of that passion & you’ll find a way.
      Thanks so much for stopping by. Ironically I was just on my way to your site when your comment came in!
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Changing Procrastination CreativelyMy Profile

  3. A.K. I’m truly sorry to hear about your health problems. But, remember, it could be worse:-)

    When it comes to procratination in general all human beings do so from time to time. Seems to be part of human nature.

    However when it comes to creativity I find that it only happens when I’m not 100% passionate about what I’m doing.

    When I’m into what I’m creating I keep going back and forth to improve it, have new ideas about it on a continouos basis.
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    • Hi Catarina – good to see you here again. Thanks so much for your comments -I appreciate your concern. Yes I agree, it could always be worse. I think that has also gone a long way to keep me feeling positive most of the time. That’s fantastic that you can push procrastination aside when it comes to creativity. It’s certainly a lot easier than a lot of other things I have to admit. But as to being 100%, we all have periods of self doubt , and that’s when it sneaks in. I imagine you probably are generally not a procrastinator. You always seem like you have lots of great ideas, as well as the enthusiasm & energy to go with them.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Changing Procrastination CreativelyMy Profile

      • When it comes to filing my nails, cleaning and other such things, I’m into procrastination. Obvioulsy I do it but have to force myself:-)

  4. A.K. ~
    What a great posting. I love how you found creative ways to be creative. I think releasing creativity is a very important part of life. I used to work at the women’s prison and can remember talking with some of the inmates who were felt literally tied up because they weren’t able able to express themselves creatively. I don’t think anyone truly understands the importance it has on life.

    • Thanks for stopping by Julie. Glad you liked the post. I completely agree with you that creativity is a really important part of life. Your comments about working in a women’s prison ere extremely interesting – I can only imagine the inability to express themselves would have only added to their lack of self control. A scary thought indeed. Thanks for sharing that with us.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Changing Procrastination CreativelyMy Profile

  5. What a wonderfully inspirational story A.K. You’ve not only inspired, you offered information and a nice shout out to Susan Cooper.

    You asked us “What draws you away from your creativity?” I would have to save technology. I love to write and I almost always write my articles for my blog in my word processing software. It’s so convenient to jot down my thoughts in a document and be able to browse for info and find valuable links. On the other hand, while my posts are helpful and have value, they’re not (usually) what I call inspirational or creative.

    When I work on projects that need my creativity, (like working on strategy), I find myself heading off with notepad and pen in hand. Some of my most creative work has been sitting on our boat moored in Plymouth harbor or sitting on my back deck sipping on a glass of Zinfandel.
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    • Great to see you here Sherryl, and thank you so much for your comments. I feel very flattered.

      Technology is undoubtably a huge draw on creativity for almost everyone these days – it must be doubly so if you work with it all day.
      I love your idea of being creative on a boat with a glass of wine! Fantastic.
      I do think you’re selling yourself short on your posts. I find them to be very inspirational as well as practical. I think it’s sometimes hard for people who are not ‘artists’ per se to see their own creativity. Believe me, it’s there & it shows.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Changing Procrastination CreativelyMy Profile

      • A.K., Thanks so much for letting me know that you find my posts inspirational. I wasn’t thinking of my posts from your point of view. I do try to inspire small business owners to have the skills and confidence to manage some aspects of their online life (primarily social media and WordPress). Empowerment can be very satisfying. 🙂
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        • You’re very welcome Sherryl. Inspiring the desire to learn in people who bay or may not be in business is fantastic. Aside from your website, I think we all appreciate the work you put into Bloggers helping Bloggers – you’re our rock Sherryl. Empowerment is indeed a wonderful thing. 🙂
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  6. A.K, I am sorry to learn about your mobility problems. I never thought of you as an artist. A.K is always a writer to me. So each happy productive day is a blessing.Glad that you find a way to use the technology to create fulfilling art. I don’t procrastinate my crafting. I do procrastinate the household chores. That leads to unpleasant atmosphere at home with not so happy husband. Now, my depression being under control, I can think clearly and set goals like, after two rows of crochet, do the dishes. When the dishes are done, I can reward myself to make an earring….
    Since I don’t have an iPhone/iPad, I staple few sheets of paper and use some crayola to color up. I am not an artist and cannot draw beautiful pictures. But the vibrant colors on the paper make me happy and help to overcome the darkness that comes on me like the death eaters in Harry Potter novels.

    • Hi Bindu – good to see you again. Thanks so much for your concern. I also appreciated you sharing issues you have about depression. We often spend a lot of our time in our blogs promoting ourselves, so it’s also good to see the other side of things too.
      I am much more of a procrastinator about the more mundane things in life too. But we all do what we can. It’s great that you enjoy getting out the crayola – as I said in my post, the enjoyment of it is the most important thing. The process of being creative is,to me, more vital than the results themselves.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Changing Procrastination CreativelyMy Profile

  7. Susan Cooper says:

    You inspire me. Your story is one of never letting adversity stop you from realizing your dream. Inspiration can come to us in very unexpected ways. Sometimes it ‘s forced on us, sometimes it appears out of nowhere. Where ever it comes from, it is a gift. You my friend have embraced your curcumstances not allowing yourself the luxury to set ideal. Your art is wonderful. Your writing is a pleasure to read.

    To answer your question I would say self doubt is my greatest challenge. I always worry if what I write and draw is good enough. Will others see it as worthy of a little time. Then I recieve a great comment that says how much someone enjoyed what I had produced and it encourages me to continue.

    Thanks sharing and thank you for the mention. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Saint James Spirits Raspberry Wine: Dessert WineMy Profile

    • Hey Susan – what a lovely comment. I really, really appreciate it. You are so generous.

      I am completely with you on the self-doubt – I find my self -critic sitting on my shoulder every time I write a blog post. Much more so than when I’m writing my novel, as it’s going to be instantly seen by more than just my writing group. I was also a bit nervous about including my paintings in this post. But then as you say, people write something nice and it really does encourage me, not only to continue, but to try and improve. It’s definitely a different skill set than fiction writing. But we all support each, and that is a positive in so many ways.

      You’re welcome on the mention – it’s truly been a wonderful discovery for me to paint on the iPhone and I have you to thank. I’d used a Wacom tablet many years ago, but this is much more apropos now.
      I can’t wait to hear all about your trip to France! Mmmm… I wonder if you sampled any of the wines while you were there? :-))
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Changing Procrastination CreativelyMy Profile

  8. Hi A.K., Bindurani, Susan, and others,
    I hear you.
    I too have a chronic disability that’s a drag on my motivation, creativity, and attitude. Housework, attention to family and others, having to limber up again every day, pain, interruptions are all inevitable. Still, I try to pay special attention to whatever fosters a positive attitude.
    Be sure to infuse your day and week with sunshine (&/or a daylight-equivalent, soft-light lamp), laughter, healthy diet, enough sleep (even if it has to be intermittent), exercise that works for you, debriefing with a positive person, good books and music, lists, listening and lending a hand to others, help with housework, small steps on stated goals. (I’m committed to whittling a longstanding large project down to size by doing something, however small, to move it forward, every single day.) And consider doing this daily exercise for the new year ahead: Sarah ban Breathnach’s SIMPLE ABUNDANCE JOURNAL OF GRATITUDE. The easiest, most rewarding journal you’ll ever keep. I’m about to embark on it for the third (though not consecutive) time.
    I’ll be interested to follow some more of your comments.
    Write-or paint- on!
    Shirley (I hope you won’t mind, I’m posting this on my blog, too. I need to remind myself!)

  9. AK, I found this story inspiring. I shared it everywhere. I completely love that you never thought to give up, but found the work arounds instead and continue to produce great writing ( I LOVE it) and art as well. That Iphone thing is pretty cool:) I’m going to remember you every time I feel the procrastination bug sneaking up on me. And for me that is always a matter of doubting if writing is my real purpose…even though it is my true passion.
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