Focus & Discipline: Feeling Overwhelmed and how I’m working through it

One of the things that’s really started to affect me when it comes to achieving my goals is my inability to focus on something for a long time. I could start writing or drawing and I would be productive but it wouldn’t last for long. It got to the point where I would be happy, like actually feel really good about myself, for even just twenty minutes of writing and/or drawing each day. But I realized if I left it at this, it would take way too long for me to accomplish anything. If I wanted to accomplish my goals of publishing one book a year and completing one good quality art piece a month, I had to figure out some way to improve my focus.

This past week was a bit of a depressing panic for me. Part of it was because I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish my third book in time for Christmas which means I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goal of publishing one book a year. But what really struck me was just how little progress I had made on the book in the past year. I should have been able to at least finish the first draft by now but it’s been difficult to sit down and just write out the story. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself but admittedly it feels really bad when I think about just how much I should have been able to do.

Another layer of this depressive feeling I’ve been struggling with is just how long it takes me to finish an art piece. I do think my art is good but it’s nowhere near the level of quality that justifies how long it takes for me to complete a piece. I want to improve my artistic ability so that I can draw out more characters and scenes from my books as a way to promote it and of course work on book covers. And, at the very core of it, I do genuinely enjoy working on art pieces.

But this past week I tried doing something that felt super unintuitive. Considering how behind I am in all of my goals, my first response was to go as hard as I could every day to write more and to draw more. As to be expected, that really didn’t work. I ended up feeling overwhelmed and focusing on the fact that I had to do something else rather than focus on the thing I was working on. Because of this creeping feeling, I tried just devoting alternating days to either writing or drawing so one day I would only focus on writing and the next day I would focus on drawing. I did that for about four days and I found, while it wasn’t massive, I was making more progress than I usually did on a weekly basis.

I used to be able to do so many different things every day and make such great progress on a regular basis and to not be able to do that anymore feels awful and demoralizing. But I think that’s just something that comes with getting older. I’ve been hearing from a lot of different people and even my own creative friends that their ability to sit down and focus has become harder. Part of it is the feeling of being overwhelmed but it’s also the fact that we just don’t have the same level of energy as we used to. It’s a bit depressing but what helps is to at least recognize that and then adjust accordingly. For me, I think trying not to do too much every day is the key for me to make more progress than I normally would. It doesn’t feel intuitive and there’s a part of me that wants to do everything but the last week has shown me a singular focus each day helps me make far more progress than I’m normally able to accomplish.

– Raphael

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