Welcome to 2018! I think that as an artist, I’m often sharing finished work, and even work in progress or studio shots, but I don’t always give a good picture of all that goes on behind the scenes. I put this post together to discuss some of the planning and reflecting I do to keep myself on track. I want to share a few art and independent business resources that I’ve found useful in hopes that they’ll be helpful to others.
In writing it, it got quite long so I split it up into two posts. In Part 1, I’ll share some of my systems and rituals I use every day throughout the year. In Part 2, I’ll share more year-end review and goal setting resources. I’ll also let you know some of my project ideas for the new year.
Finding a way to relax and generate ideas:
On the solstice I wrote a post about where I live and shared photos of the sun coming out and my walk that day on the river. I’ll never be able to add up the hours, but the time I spend walking in nature is an important “behind the scenes” part of my practice. I’ve read that you get creative ideas when you are most relaxed. Apparently people come up with ideas in the shower. I don’t have a shower so I go for walks instead. Watching the world slide bye on cross-country skis is probably my favorite idea-generating activity. If I’m stuck on a problem or don’t know what to do next in the studio, I always find my solution outside.
I’ve found that being a creative person, I could come up with ideas all day long. It’s really fun and satisfying for me. But just because you think of an idea doesn’t mean you can make it happen. For that I need a lot of pen and paper time. Everyone has a different way of doing this, but for me writing things down on paper helps me to remember what’s important and to prioritize.
I have two systems or practices that I use pretty much every day, and have been for a few years now: morning pages and bullet journaling.
Morning Pages come out of the book, The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron, where basically a person just writes three pages in a journal every morning. The idea is to clear your mind with stream-of-consciousness writing. Cameron says “The morning pages are not supposed to sound smart—although sometimes they might. Most times they won’t, and nobody will ever know except you. Nobody is allowed to read your morning pages except you. And you shouldn’t even read them yourself (for while)…” I followed her advice and tried it out, and have found that it works for me. I usually write petty, boring stuff, but after I’ve finished I’ve cleared my head and usually know what is most important for me to do that day.
Once I go through the journaling process and know what is most important to me, I go into my planner. I like using the bullet journaling system because it is very open ended. I don’t feel pressure that I am supposed to plan in a certain way and I don’t have to use up one page or one inch of a page a day. I write my to-do list every day and can use as much space as I need. I am prone to writing to-do lists that are too long so some days my list takes up a whole page. Other days it is only a few lines.
There is a ton of information about bullet journaling out there on the Internet. Two resources I’ve found helpful are Ryder Carroll (who started it), and Kara Benz (of BohoBerry) who shares her planning process online.
Some people make their planners artistic, but I keep mine really simple. I use a travelers notebook with three inserts: A book of monthly spreads so I can plan things ahead for the future; a bullet journal where I scope out longer term projects and ideas; and another bullet journal where I plan by week and by day. Each week has a spread where I write out what I want to get done that week, and then each day has its own list that I write out every morning. I make tweaks here and there, but this system works for me.
These daily routines work the best when you reflect a few times a year. It’s important to step back and figure out where you’re going in the big picture. Because of the daylight I get pretty into reflection mode in November and December so I always do a big year-end review, which is what I am going to share in my next post.