In the creative world it has always been said that planning out your year is what helps you reach your goals and be successful. What we don’t hear a lot of is that planning out your year may interfere with your creative process. So, how do you know which plan of action is the best for you? There are a few simple steps that you can analyze (I love using this term when talking about creativity) to learn more about you and just how full you need to make your calendar:
1. What type of personality do you have? For me, I am a thinker and a feeler who makes tons of mental notes and every now and again jots things down in my spiral, just so I don’t forget. I am someone who needs to feel ready to do something and not forced to do something just to keep with a calendar. However, I have set a few goals for the year that are vague and can certainly be interrupted if other things take precedence. For others, you may need to follow a more strict path, and by strict I mean laying out a step-by-step plan of action. Many great creators do this. They will write down just how much they need to “write to complete a book” within a particular time period. Some go as far as creating start and stop points all year-long, regardless of their talent. What you need to ask yourself is, “How am I effectively creative?” “Am I more motivated by following a strict plan or by loosening my belt until I feel ready?” Granted, being creative doesn’t eliminate you from needing to run your business. If you aren’t earning an income, it is quite difficult to live out your creative endeavors. Either way, be true to yourself and follow a plan that you are comfortable with. If you are not sure which method is best, dedicate yourself to following one particular method for an entire year and then reflect upon your experience. You may also choose to combine these methods, leaving room for creative interruptions.
2. The importance of creative interruptions. As a creative person, it is important that you maintain your sense of inspiration. Often, when sticking to a strict schedule, creative types forget to partake in what inspires them. Many feel they need to do A,B, and C before they earn the right to be inspired again. I would disagree with this completely. Sure, A,B, and C are important but you mustn’t forget who you are. In my mental schedule, I allow myself to be inspired relentlessly. How? Glad you asked! Whatever you do in life, having a balance is extremely important. I write several hours a day but if I don’t feel that I am enjoying my time writing, I close my laptop and get out in the world. I maintain my exercise regime (which always helps the creative process because it give you time away from thinking and allows you time to focus on you!) and I venture out to do things that I enjoy. Taking time to tend to all of your needs is just as important as writing your best-seller. You will find that when you step away from creating that sooner or later you will miss it and want to return. This is something that needs to be done often and when creative types neglect to step away, they often become overwhelmed and feel forced to be creative which, in itself, creates burn-out or block. If you plan out your year, plan blocks of time to get away from creating. Take a vacation or go visit somewhere new. Or, if you are like me, be sure to get out into the world on a daily basis unless your are fully engaged in your craft. Remember, it is often our experiences that spark our imagination and ability to create.
3. Socialize. Many creative types struggle with regular socialization. I, for one, am victim to this as I prefer a quieter life and truly enjoy my time writing. However, I have learned the importance of making connections with others and the role those connections play in my well-being. Throughout my day, whether through email, Skype, online networks, or at the gym and coffee shop, I make time to talk with other people. This gives me a sense of normalcy in my abnormal lifestyle. I do not long to have thousands of friends but I do long to be a part of my world and connect, even if briefly, with those living more normal lives. These brief interactions allow me to feel less isolated and, sometimes, cause me to run back to my computer out of fright or because that person just reminded me of how I needed to describe a character or scene. Other times, these interactions become a part of my routine. When I exercise at the gym, there are a few people who I chat with more regularly and it makes my experience richer because of it. If you are like me, more isolated than most, I believe that you will find similar benefits from small interactions, whether in person or not. However, the opposite is just as true. If you enjoy lots of socialization, it may interfere with your creative flow and keep you from performing at the level that you know you are capable of, thus damaging your progress and success. Keep tabs on what your needs are and remember to try to keep a healthy balance.
4. Lastly, have fun. Being creative is probably the funnest lifestyle to actualize. As your business grows and you continue to hone your craft, it is easy to get wrapped up in all of the details of being successful. If you ever feel that you are overloaded with a business mindset, stop and go have fun. Doing what you do is a gift and it should be a fun and rewarding experience for you. If you are not enjoying how your life is unfolding, take the time to make alterations on how you get from point A to point Z. Always remind yourself that there are plenty of 9-5 jobs out there just waiting to monopolize on your lessor than creative abilities. With that said, slow down and be sure not to force your creativity into being something that you are not pleased with. You are creative and your creations are just as important as the next person, so be true to yourself. If you don’t like planning and doing the business end of things, like me, there are many assistants out there that will be happy to help (not all are overly priced either). My assistant and editor are amazing people and don’t rob me for their time. Take time to reflect upon yourself and realize that you are living your dream and then make the most of it by enjoying the process, especially those areas that you just cannot see with your own eyes, thus being unable to plan for.
So, is planning everything best? Well, that really depends on you and your needs. I believe there is room for planning and there is more room for allowing the creative process to unfold on its’ own. Creating is about discovery; discover is about finding something that you believed was there but hadn’t uncovered it yet. As you uncover your creation and bring it into existence, you and the world around you will revel in the surprise. We all like surprises right? If you plan anything, plan on making the most of your abilities and do whatever it takes to make that happen!
Jaymes Ian Woode