I found this sketch by Siobhan Jay on Pinterest and I really like it.  Every time I look at it I think “Yep.” Because it pretty much shows what it feels like inside my brain most days.  My brother unceremoniously– and by his own admission, politically incorrectly coined the term “Art-tard”.

This little sketch gives a strength – based explanation for what I and i think many others deal with on a daily basis when prioritizing projects and ideas. Though a much more frightened part of me whispers “You’re getting old…  You’re probably getting senile“–and perhaps I am,  I prefer to think that for me at least , it’s a grown-up form of undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, and that I’ve always been like this. But as my sister often reminds me “Denial isn’t just a river in Africa”. I have to face reality, whatever the reason, my brain is getting increasingly untidy.

On any given day there are a lot of images and words, ideas, musings, plans and memories blowing around loose in my brain, like an untidy house.

 I have some great brainy closets just stuffed with creativity, future projects and plans. There are also dust bunnies of thoughts and half-formed ideas rolling around in dark corners up there.

And rummaging in various drawers and cabinets in my brain long enough I often come across things I just knew were in there but couldn’t get my hands on when I needed them; Like remembering where that box of colored pencils is that someone had asked to borrow last week.

There’s also a whole pot of simmering vocabulary words that used to be much easier to retrieve. But I guess my brain’s word strainer has bigger holes because now I have to wait til they float to the surface to get them.  That “on the tip of my tongue” feeling maddeningly nags at me.  Then that word that I was trying to remember yesterday to describe a painting —“Expressionism!”— bubbles to the surface, unbidden, hours later: Not that I need the word anymore, but I’ll shout it out with relief, randomly, to my husband  or my dog or  a passing stranger.

Under that simmering pot is a whole oven of half-baked ideas:  Dog portraits, sloth cartoons, caricatures and flower mosaics.  On any given day there are a half-dozen or so  unfinished concepts, schemes and designs.  Some come to fruition.  Most don’t.

I used to chase after these sloppy notions only to be distracted by another one.  I flitted from one thing to another. It was taking precious energy and I wasn’t accomplishing much.  I was frustrated and worried that my thoughts weren’t more organized.

 I’ve  worked really hard to make up for this untidy artist brain, adult A.D.D., senility, or whatever it is.

 Here are some tips I can share with you that, while not necessarily making my brain a more tidy place, have led me to at least accomplishing more:

1. Keep a sketchbook of inspirations, ideas and projects that interest you. Write them down or sketch them out.

2. Use resources.
Pinterest or other Juxapost are great ways to gather, organize, categorize ideas , which can be shared or kept private.

3.  Make an Idea List and put it somewhere you can see, like on the fridge or taped to the side of your calendar or computer screen.
Making lists seems seems like a no-brainer, and many people already do it for groceries, appointments and errands.    Make your ideas just as important .  Instead of just having a bunch of cool ideas floating around in your head, put them down on paper, either in the form of writing or pictures so you have a visual reminder.

4. Update your idea list  and make a new one at least once a week.

  • Give yourself a pat on the back for anything you’ve accomplished from your last  list.  
  • Toss out any ideas that no longer seem feasible or that no longer ignite  passion in you. 
  • Check your idea sketchbook and add new projects you’d like to work on.

.5. Put yourself on a somewhat flexible Schedule and stick to it.
 Try to include some time in your high-energy moments—whenever they are–to do projects.  Don’t try to fit it in at the end of a day when your energy is flagging.

6. Take out your proect materials and leave them out until you get it done. 

Sometimes the biggest barrier to doing a project is getting out all the stuff.  I have artist friends who tell me it just seems like too much work to haul out all their supplies and set them up.  My watercolor pallet and brushes are almost always on my kitchen counter where I can grab them.  So get out your tools and supplies for whatever you want to accomplish and let them be in the way for a bit.

I need to go now.  I have some stuff to do.
I think.

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