The Dichotomy of Focus

As creatives, we’re tasked with the privilege of seeing our creative projects evolve in three basic stages: getting the initial idea, implementing the idea into our medium and then producing the finished work.

Along this path is the dichotomy of focus.

  • We must be open to change, but not get too distracted.
  • We embrace playfulness, yet need to be responsible.
  • We often create in solitude, but we need community and connection.
TodaysArt 2005 - Nederlands Dans Theater
Maurice via Compfight

The dichotomy of focus reminds me of ballet. As many of my acting gigs involved choreography, I wanted to learn the basics of movement, so I signed up for ballet classes.

The teacher would say seemingly incongruent instructions to help us learn the physical and mental demands of the artform.

Elongate. Tuck.

Push. Pull.

Relax. Tighten.

Such a dichotomy of terms that it seemed the teacher was schizophrenic, yet when she demonstrated we saw exactly what she meant.

What ballet taught me to do in all of my creative work was to enjoy several disciplines at once. As the term “focus” implies being intent on only one thing, it’s too narrow a word for our type of work.

I enjoy embracing the whole of the process rather than just a part.

How about you? How do you strike the balance?


Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • I’ve learned to listen to my needs and correct along the way. I’m a natural introvert, so I need times of solitude and aloneness to refuel. But, I can also stay there too long because I’m comfortable in my little shell. I’m learning to listen to my needs and correct when I’m feeling I need the opposite of what I’m doing. The same is true for my creative work. There are times I need to hole up and just push through, and there are times I need to step aside and do something else for a bit. It’s about knowing yourself.

    • Listening to yourself is a skill that I’m still learning, Jason. It’s a such a good point you bring up. How can we be aware of our focus if we don’t stop and listen, right?

      Happy New Year to you!