How To Create Beautiful, Life Changing Artwork, One Project At A Time

image: RobW

You have the most incredible creative projects within you, just burning to get out into the world.

But, as yet, you haven’t quite been able to give them the energy, attention, space and time they need and deserve to fully flourish.

So you’ve ended up frustrated and unfulfilled, wondering if you’ll ever be able to get anywhere near creating the kind of life changing art (your life and other people’s) that’s in you. The work that will stir, motivate, inspire, fulfill, and make you feel proud and alive.

Here are the two crucial things you need to do to turn this around.

1. Focus on one project.

Like many creative people, I like having many projects on the go at any one time, in different media, of different sizes and at different stages. It provides me with variety and different types of stimulation, and keeps me motivated and interested.

Having multiple projects is as natural as eating a varied diet of food. You might absolutely adore chocolate, but you wouldn’t want to live on just endless bars of one type of chocolate for the rest of your life. Your body wouldn’t appreciate it much either!

And this is where we can sometimes get put off, or misled when it comes to getting focused on just one thing.

If we talk about focusing all your creative time and energy on only one creative project then most of us start to get very nervous and twitchy and think how can you possibly work on JUST one piece of art? You worry you’ll lose motivation, focus, interest, and it’s the variety I mentioned before that keeps you so into creating.

This is the vital point. When you get highly focused on just one thing, it doesn’t mean forever. It doesn’t even have to mean the rest of the year, or month, or week.

We just mean giving everything you have to a single project, without being distracted by ANYTHING else, for a set period of time.

I’ve had whole days of 8 hours or more where I’ve cleared the calendar and begun with great intentions and expectations to get so much done. But I’ve dabbled in so many different projects during that time, flitted from one to another, barely touching down, before heading off to another, that by the end of the day I’ve done a whole lot of very little and I’m scratching my head wondering where those 8 hours have gone and why I feel so exhausted.

Does this ever happen to you? Thought so!

Other times, I’ve simply sat down to write for a fixed period of 90 or 120 minutes, set a timer, unplugged and removed ALL distractions and just written.

Forget the myth of multitasking, this is all about pure, singular focus.

And the amount I’ve written, and equally crucially, the QUALITY of what I’ve written in this short time has been far greater than what I’ve done during one of those busy-bee-ending-up-doing-nothing 8 hour days.

You will amaze yourself at what you can do in a short, focused, isolated period of time. Then if you want, you can spend another similarly focused chunk of time and energy on the same project, or on something else. But stick to one at a time, eliminate all distractions. Singular focus.

You’ll be in awe of what you can create.

2. Choose what you’re most passionate about.

Now this sounds obvious – why would you create anything you weren’t really excited and passionate about?

Well, it happens. Fear of not being able to do the project justice, not being able to make it “perfect”.  Fear of realising that the big idea you had, and attached such high expectations to, doesn’t quite work out as good as you hoped it would.

Fear that if you DO create something incredible, if you do produce the greatest artwork of your life, then you raise the bar, and set yourself higher expectations for next time, thus increasing the pressure on yourself to create something even more brilliant.

But, be honest with yourself. Do you really want to look back over your life and see a string of “quite good” creative projects?

Do you want to feel that although you chose some pretty great projects, you somehow always shied away from those truly wonderful projects that changed your life, and the lives of others?

Or put another way, on your final death bed, do you want to know that you put your heart and soul into your artwork, and indeed your life, and created the greatest masterpieces you had within you?

Or instead, just know that you “tried quite hard” and “didn’t do badly”?

I think the answer for any of us who create is obvious. It’s our duty to create the best we can create and get it out into the world.

Use these two techniques in combination – choosing the projects you’re most passionate about, then given them highly focused periods of time and energy – and you’ll be creating beautiful, life changing artwork, one project at a time.

And the perfect time to begin this is now.

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15 thoughts on “How To Create Beautiful, Life Changing Artwork, One Project At A Time”

  1. I have launched a couple of projects in the past twelve months and like you said, the key was focus. The next most important thing for me was getting started without having everything in place or figured out. If I had waited for the perfect time, nothing would have happened.

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  2. Couldn’t agree more Courtney.

    There’s a saying – “implement now, perfect later.”

    I prefer – “implement now, improve later.”

    Like you say, getting going is crucial and momentum will naturally build.

    Thanks for your comments.

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  3. At times like this I wonder ‘Why didn’t I think of it before?’ Yes the thought of focusing on one project seems dreary at first but it sounds wonderful the way you put it. Little chunks of time, I’ll start with that.
    thanks Dan.

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    1. That’s exactly the kind of thinking we get stuck in Pat – “Work on JUST one project? How boring!”

      But it just means one at a time, in focused chunks of time. Pick one thing, eliminate all distractions, let your creativity shine through. You will astound yourself.

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  4. Being a highly distractable person I’ve developed a way to force myself to focus on my writing. I meet with two other writers several times a week to write. I’ve found both leaving my house (full of fun and unfun distractions!) and committing to meet other writers for a specified period of time puts me in the place you recommend — focused time on one project I’m passionate about. Works like a charm for me!

    Thanks for your always inspiring newsletter and blog!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Laurin, that’s an excellent tip. Soon as we have other people to hold us accountable, whether they’re offline or online friends, it’s so much more effective than just making a silent promise to ourselves that’s easy to break. Great that you’ve found what works for you and use it. 🙂

      Dan

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  5. I’ve noticed this too. At some point I realized it was taking me too long do get some things done so I used a timer to see where the time was going. Crazy! But when I started focusing for some specific chunks of time on one thing, I managed to do 3 times more work then I did before. Focusing on one thing at the time always results in better work. No doubt about it.

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  6. Great to hear of another example that proves this works Stella.

    We are so hyper-connected these days, it’s increasingly difficult to just unplug from everything and focus on what matters, even for a short period of time.

    It’s not so much the information age, as the information overload age.

    Once you simply make that decision to pick one thing to work on and eliminate all other distractions, it works almost like magic.

    Thanks for your comments.

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  7. I’m highly distractable, too. (I wonder what the cats are breaking now… What should I make for dinner… Did I pay that bill… Oh look! A squirrel! :P)

    Listening to music helps keeps me focused on one project. I’m less likely to think of other things and wander off to tend to them. There’s a much better chance the project reaches completion.

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    1. Interesting about music Diane. There are certain records I listen to that seem to help me flow well in writing. Usually very “kinetic” music like New Order or minimal stuff like Takagi Masakatsu.

      Or, as I do all my article writing using OmmWriter now I have silence, except for the clickety keys sound you can set in there as you type.

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