My mourning ritual. Waking up with the artist.
Je suis TinguelyMaybe you can recall I talked about organizing your stuff to become a better artist. Well, let's revisit that topic and talk a bit about finding balance in playing with the organized mind and the chaos.
I am kind of a dysfunctional machine who gets his fuel from the chaos of life. Just like you and everyone else. Rather incapable to take care of ourselves in these modern days where we ALL are so privileged that we can worry about irrelevant things and sometimes even destroy ourselves and most definitely destroy everything around us. So let's take care of ourselves and see how we can improve ourselves as an artist and make us as a machine better functioning. With this we can become more successful as an artist on several scales and also be a better machine for our society.
First fuel up. Breakfast
Like every machine or organism we need fuel. Something we can put into us. Now our machine is more complex then a car where you put gasoline in and it runs. We are more of a collection of functioning machines who make our body function as a whole. When one part is damaged or not taken care of enough, the entire device is starting to be less productive. Therefore I am going to talk about a simple thing first. What are you putting in your body to make the main machine functioning?
We need food to start the day. There are many people who claim they don't need breakfast and (in the Netherlands and probably everywhere else) there are doctors who keep on shouting that you should take breakfast to function. The problem with all media these days is that they just tell you that it is important but not explain the "why" that well. So let me tell you that you need the fuel to start up. Not just a cup of coffee for the kick. I also think it is not a good idea to put coffee in your body in the first place. Same thing with a high sugary breakfast. You get the kick from that yes. Humans tend to focus on what makes them feel good in a short period of time but for the long run it is a bit more difficult to see. If we were thinking about how we could feel better for a long period of time no one would drink alcohol or do drugs. This is why I started to think about this type of fuel in the morning. Not the high sugars and caffeine but what does the body need and what does the body take from it a bit slower but more efficient. For some time I am eating eggs and some kind of meat with my bread and I drink tea without caffeine and a glass of water. I feel good for the entire morning and don't experience any peak or a slow moment in the morning anymore.
This is the part where we give fuel to our body part of the machine. But now, what do you give your mind to start up? I can hear people say all the time that they need their morning coffee to start up. That kickstart is not needed when you take the time to start up. I was thinking about the computer I had when I was younger. These days we would say it was a slow piece of crap but let us take a look at this phenomenon like this. I turned that machine on, did go to the toilet and grabbed something to drink and when I came back the computer was functioning. It took some time but it did his job. You could be sitting there getting nervous and annoyed while waiting and you started to type in your password a bit to early and the computer had to think about it and the letters and numbers appeared slowly what made you even more annoyed about it.
Maybe we should take the time for our breakfast and start our brains up with it. Our brains need that slow fuel too you know! Besides that our creative mind needs to start up. You can't use those ups and downs while working on something. So to take away some stress from the mind at the start of the day I think it would be wise to always eat the same for breakfast. You don't have to think about that in the morning anymore. You are just making it and doing it. This gives me space to put my mind on something else.
Here I am one of those people who needs to push myself to do something. While having breakfast I am turning on my second machine, the creative mind. I didn't believe in the whole "start up sketching" at first but maybe I misunderstood the concept of this phenomenon. By starting doing and moving your mindset to what you are doing to do for the rest of the day you are taking big steps towards a productive way. Bobby Chiu mentioned in several interviews and other youtube videos that he starts sketching/drawing as soon as he woke up to get this machine going. Kim Jung Gi, an amazing artist you can see working in the video above, is drawing all the time. Never even breaking that flow. Try to get that in your daily life as well. It is not just your job it is your life.
Continuing your morning by cleaning up and feeling uncomfortable.
Do your things!
As you probably experienced, people are not that good at focussing on things at all. When you start reading a book for school or a thick stack of papers, or you have to do a drawing what is not that much of a challenge for you or maybe not as interesting as you imagined before starting it your brain is wandering off after about 20 minutes. Then questions come by as "did I locked the door when I left home?", "I should have cleaned out the dishwasher before I started this or that". "I have to make a call to my mother" or maybe there are some more difficult problems or situations who are taking over.
Let's clean this problem up a bit. So you have to do the dishwasher. Well, do it before you start drawing. And make sure you do all these other little things also because they WILL haunt you through your day. You are a freelance artist, it doesn't matter if you start your day 30 minutes later. You just have to work 30 minutes longer in the evening. But by spending 30 minutes on cleaning up and making sure everything is in place these questions don't have to pop up anymore. This could mean you have maybe 60 minutes more focussed time extra in your day!
Stretch until you feel uncomfortable
You can train this concentration span and stretch it out. I always have a timer set for a certain amount of time. At first you discover that you lose concentration on your work after 15-20 minutes. Well, you can take a timer and put it at 25 minutes. After these 25 minutes you can stand up, look outside the window for 5 minutes or play a short game on your mobile phone (not an intense one!!). After your five minute break you get back to work for the next 25 minutes. After 5 days you will feel more comfortable with the 25 minutes of focus and then it is time to stretch it to 30 minutes and then take a five minute break and you keep on adding time.
At the moment I have my timer set at 60 minutes and I will not stretch this more. This is because the body machine needs to handle this sixty minutes of stress as well. Humans are not designed to sit still for that long so after an hour I will stand up do some stretching and moving to avoid trouble with my shoulders, back and arms and what else there could be a problem with.
|Poster for 013 Tilbrug, A special program poster used during Roadburn Festival 2018|
As you can tell repetition is extremely important to make it easy for your mind and body. At the end of the day you should make a schedule for the next day of things you should in in that order. You don't have to think about your next task because it already is on paper. Think ahead, not what makes you feel good at this time. You don't need to stay in your safe place, the gold and gems are in the places where you feel uncomfortable. That is exactly the place where us artists like to take one or two steps into. We can show people in their safe lives behind the walls of comfort and readymade rules and boarders what is to be found beyond their boarders. That is what is interesting for them and that is what makes good art. We dare to enter the realm of chaos and we dare to fight and tame it. But we have to manage our time and mind way more. Make our machines more efficient and our communication as clean as possible. "You have to fight like a junkyard dog to get your own time" is what Jordan Peterson mentioned in a lecture before. This first fight takes place in our own life and we have to make sure our machine is prepared for this.
|Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson|
Repetition is avoiding all the "normal" trouble most people experience in their everyday life. If you structure your life well enough you don't have to worry about missing a bus or forgetting things because you are prepared. How do you get prepared, follow your structures and repetitions like getting up at the same time every day and get dressed before you will have breakfast. Try to eat the same breakfast everyday. I am not saying you should never treat yourself with something or change the menu but also make these changes at, for example, Mondays only.
"Repetition is your life, make that repetition worth it." is also something Jordan Peterson said. Be conscious about what you do so you can focus more on what you love to do. You won't lose time if you use your time in a way you can make the time valuable by planning and taking care of yourself and making life more easy. Life will never be easy with all the trouble around you like sick family members or money problems and the ever changing society, economy and hypes that could destroy your career instantly. So at least make your normal repetitions as easy and pleasant as possible.
On the next episode of CAVUMball Z
I hope you enjoyed this article again and hope you will have questions to ask. You can put them in the comment section below. Next time I will write about the afternoon since there are some problems to be destroyed. We will continue to make our Tinguelysk machines less inefficient.