That bad habit will die, dear reader, when you finally own everything.
|I paint random, meaningless still lives when I can’t get started. This is a stuffed birdie and the Douglas tartan.|
“Why is it so easy to buy and hoard materials, then so hard to begin the artwork? Or is it just me?” wrote a correspondent.
The “Just Do It” campaign brought Nike’s share of the North American sneaker market from 18% to 43% over a decade. That tells us that dithering is a real, important part of the project-starting experience.
|The dark shapes at the bottom left are credit cards, dear reader. Your problem is universal.|
I can be a real ditherer. I spend way too much energy debating the order in which I should do simple tasks. None of this is productive, so my solution is to do all rote tasks in a specific order. I always make my bed, for example, when I get up. It saves me the hassle of debating whether I should make my bed. That battle can easily use more time and energy than just doing the chore.
|Still lives are especially amusing when the technology they record is now obsolete. That’s not even a flip-phone.|
The same holds true with my work. I always write my blog as soon as I get up. That’s usually 6 AM. Then I do other paperwork, and then I go into my studio.
The human brain reorganizes itself during learning. Scientists have studied activityin the ventral striatum of the basal ganglia, which is the brain region that controls habit formation. It shifts from fast and chaotic to slow synchronization pace as rats learn the ‘habit’ of running a maze.
“This is beneficial to the brain because once that habit is formed, what you want to do is free up that bit of brain so you can do something else — form a new habit or think a great thought,” MIT Institute Professor Ann Graybiel said.
|Speaking of hoarding, the computer I bought this for died before the hard drive was ever installed. But I did enjoy painting the bubble-wrap.|
One side-inference of this research is that even rats calm down when they have mastered habits.
So, the short answer to working efficiently is to develop the habit of regular work. This is the gist of the book Art & Fear, which I frequently recommend. The importance of habit is true across all disciplines, but creativity also requires a seemingly contrary characteristic: creative flexibility. Is that possible in a highly-ritualized person?
Those smarty-pants at MIT also discovered that brain synchrony, starting in the striatum, supports rapid learning. The human mind can rapidly absorb and analyze new information as it flits from thought to thought. These functional circuits are rhythm-based, and they’re controlled by the striatum, the same area that controls habit-formation and addiction.
|Two very important elements of the backwoods painter’s experience.|
The question of buying unnecessary art supplies is a different one. It happens because art is a system of dreaming and prototyping, and sometimes our ideas ‘die aborning.’ That’s not unique to artists; it happens to all visionaries.
I’m the opposite of a hoarder—I throw everything out. And still there is stuff in my studio for which I have no use, or that I bought for projects I never did. That habit will die out, dear reader, when you finally own everything.