art, creativity

Hooray for Gear-Switching

Sometimes I fret about the way I flit from one thing to another. Why can’t I focus? I’ll wonder. Why can’t I devote myself to one thing and practice it until I’m really good at it? But lately I’ve been trying to see switching gears as positive.

The other day I broke out the paints and brushes for the first time in maybe a whole year. One thing that got me motivated was my niece, who’s decided she wants to learn to paint for her senior project. She’s coming down to get a lesson next week, which is mildly terrifying, considering I don’t know what I’m doing even when I’ve been doing it a lot! So I thought I should at least try something on my own before I have to show her what to do.

Another motivation was a change to my work room. I got rid of an old recliner that I never sat in—it was basically acting as a giant dog bed, except when it was covered with junk—so with that gone, and the purchase of a folding table from Home Despot, I suddenly had what I’d been longing for: three different spaces for three different activities. Now I can let my desk be messy and use it only for writing. I can cover my drawing table with paper and pens and pencils. And I can leave tubes of paint and brushes all over my painting table. The room’s a bit crowded, but not having to clean up one mess before making another is well worth it!

Finally, the last reason to squeeze out those paints: I needed to. There’s been a lot of stuff going on this month, and I’ve found it hard to concentrate on my YA-sci-fi revision. So I decided to just set it aside for a few weeks. But without writing, I haven’t been indulging my creative side, and that’s made me cranky.

Which is why it felt so good to paint this peacock. It’s not a masterpiece, but that’s OK. It was nice to switch gears and go back to something I haven’t been doing lately. And meanwhile, I’m letting the writing ground lie fallow for awhile. When I get back to it, maybe it’ll be really fertile!

Sure, having a laser focus can be a great thing—but don’t discount the joy of dabbling.

2 thoughts on “Hooray for Gear-Switching”

  1. I just read your book “She Made a Monster,” and wanted to know more about you and your work. Congratulations on the success of this incredible picture book. It was mysterious and entertaining, and I enjoyed getting a peak at Mary Shelley’s creative process. By the way, this blog post is also awesome. I switch gears/projects all the time and usually feel bad about it. Just this morning, I told myself that I wished I could focus on one thing at a time; perhaps I would get more done. But your perspective on gear-switching has made me rethink that. Thank you. 🙂


  2. Hi Rita–Thanks for your comment! I’m glad to hear from another gear-switcher–and I’m glad you liked She Made a Monster. I think some of us just aren’t made to devote ourselves to one thing, so we might as well be positive about it, right?


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