I recently heard the term “Monkey Mind” while watching a video on mindful meditation. It was a cute animation that described how we can become overwhelmed by all the things in our lives and how all this makes it difficult to concentrate.
I felt a connection to the little animated monkey in the video. The poor guy was bouncing all over the jungle, getting distracted by butterflies, shiny leaves, bird calls. It was a perfect illustration of how I feel sometimes when it comes to my creative projects. I’ll be working on a short story and suddenly an idea for another one pops into my head, so I stop what I’m doing to write some notes for myself on the new idea, and as soon as I finish that a rhythm pops into my head, so I pull out my keyboard and try to capture those sounds…
And around and around I go.
The monkey mind only seems to affect me when it comes to my projects. I don’t get distracted when I’m working in the yard on a sunny afternoon. Doesn’t affect me when I’m installing website patches at the office. It doesn’t affect me when I’m spending time with loved ones. It’s only when I’m being creative.
It got me thinking about the cause and effect and I wonder if I’m doing it to myself. I think the root cause is that I have too many interests. Sure, I’m a writer, so I write. A lot. I have dozens of short story drafts, a novel in progress, working on the paperback and audio versions of my short story collection, and I provide feedback to several other writers. That alone is a full plate.
But then add to that I podcast (mostly) weekly. There’s a couple of hours of drafting an outline, recording several takes, editing, posting…not to mention coming up with topics for each episode. And there’s also my love of music and the bits and pieces of song that I hear in my head and try to recreate and record. Plus, I’m now working on creating short videos. Throw in the time I need for reading all the books on my nightstand, journaling, and making time for my partner and my dogs…I think I know why my brain is constantly battering the inside of my skull.
Do other artists have this problem? Or are they disciplined enough to focus on one project at a time, seeing each one to completion before beginning the next one? For creative types like me, with far too many interests and ideas, how do you handle it all? I’m genuinely curious.
I’ve been working on compartmentalizing my projects, setting aside time on different days to focus on specific things. I’ve also started to cut out almost all of my television time. At the moment I watch just a few shows each week (The Mandalorian, The Graham Norton Show, and Last Week Tonight). There’s so much entertainment available that I want to explore, but at the moment I just don’t have the time.
But will this tame my monkey mind? I have no idea, but I’m hopeful. It’s not like I can hit the little bugger with a tranquilizer dart.
I’m curious if anyone else deals with this, and how they deal with it. Leave a comment below or drop me a line via the contact form. My monkey and I would love to hear from you.