Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Minimalism, Finding Focus, and Art

At this time of year when people are so focused on shopping and getting more, I'm writing about getting rid of stuff.

As far as minimalism goes, I'm not like a 100% hardcore minimalist. I still have things that I keep for sentimental reasons and other items that I don't really need but love to have. But then, minimalism is about only keeping the things that are truly important to you, so maybe I'm a bit more serious about it than I think I am.

Overall I've found that simplifying my life and getting rid of clutter has really made things much easier. My life was already very simple, but even so I still had a lot of stuff. I had piles of notebooks and "collectables" and clothes that I never wear, and it was really bothering me.

I couldn't find anything because of all the clutter. Digging to the bottom of drawers through useless stuff was a pain.

It took me forever to get dressed because I had too many choices in my closet.

Clutter and confusion in your life can totally cause creative confusion. I was working on a new novel and things kind of got a little muddled with it. I also I had a manga that I was planning and things kind of got off track with that too. I just felt super distracted by everything.

So one day, I finally had enough of not being able find anything because I had too much stuff in my way. I decided to throw a "packing party" (for more about that, check out this interesting article about having a "packing party" at theminimalists.com)

I packed away all of my things for a week, only unpacking what I needed to use. Even if you're not planning on letting go of your stuff, I really recommend trying this as an experiment. By the end, you'll be amazed at how few things you use in your daily life. At the end of that week, I found myself questioning how much value I give to items that I rarely use anyways. Why do I feel like I need these objects so badly, when they obviously add very little value to my life?

After a week of seeing what I really needed, I started cleaning up what was extra. I threw out bags and bags of stuff. I gave away so many clothes to the local thrift store that when my mom went there to shop, she said that it looked like my closet. I made hundreds of dollars by selling my stuff on Ebay. I made some more money by putting items in a yard sale.

The most amazing thing is that all that stuff I gave away--all those things that I  thought I absolutely needed to have--I don't miss them. I haven't thought about a single item that I had given away. It was all dead weight.

When the clutter was gone, I felt so much better. I could breathe, and think, and focus. 

I still have a few things to let go of. I'm liquidating my CD collection. Really I don't know the last time I've played a CD. It's crazy how many sketchbooks I have where I only drew on the first page and the rest is blank. I'm like a sketchbook hoarder. Also I have a copy of Manga Studio Debut 4.0 that I don't use anymore.

If anyone wants a sketchbook (I have many of them with the one page that I drew on ripped out, of course) or a copy of the Manga Studio Debut 4.0 software, just send me a message and I'll send it to you for free. I'll pay the shipping and everything. I simply want it gone.

After that major clean up, I still had so many clothes. That's when I discovered the really amazing Project 333. I'll write more about it in my next post, but strangely, participating in Project 333 has left a huge impact on the way that I create art. I'll never be the same again.

I've been making a lot of changes to my original plans for my next manga, but now I'm seeing things that I can do to really bring it together as a harmonious piece, and part of that is thanks to what I learned about myself while doing Project 333.

I guess the main point is that if you're having problems with creating, maintaining inspiration or staying focused, first take a look at your technique and then look at your life. Maybe there's some clutter that you need to get rid of.