“These days, I approach a plan as something flexible and yielding, capable of being reviewed and revised. I give myself permission to change a plan when immersion in it suggests a new direction." - Rosemary Warden, writer and creativity coach (quoted in Eric Maisel’s Van Gogh Blues)
If you've been tuning into my website and newsletter for awhile, you may notice that I recently made some changes to my schedule of Fall Workshops.
Here's the new schedule:
The Finding Your Creative Constellation Workshop has been moved to October 15. Learn more and register HERE.
The Imperfection Option Workshop is still on November 12. Learn more and register HERE.
The Sustaining Your Creative Momentum Workshop has been postponed until early 2017.
Reflections on Plans and Planning
The occasion of adjusting my plans has made me a bit reflective about the whole idea of planning and plans and how to think about them when course corrections have to be made.
I'm a great one for planning - for at least three reasons:
- I prefer to be efficient with my energies (which is a very polite way of saying I'm kinda lazy...). Thinking in advance about the big picture and setting priorities means I can spend less time wandering without a sense of where I'm going and can take action with some reassurance that my precious action-energies will ultimately move me in a direction I'm intending to go.
- I like how having a plan makes me feel less lost - or at least gives me something to return to when my gut says I'm off-course.
- Let's face it, planning can be a great way to delay the nitty-gritty often-tedious, no-way-around-it, just-plain-work aspects of taking action. Guilty.
- I love the rush of possibility that accompanies a good planning frenzy. Concocting a nice juicy theory of how things will go in the future is a wonderful control rush. I can move stuff around in my head until it fits just so and everything seems aligned and ever so do-able...
And then, there's reality.
Like most non-robots, I face a few pesky human-type realities, like the reality of limited physical and emotional energies; the reality of multiple competing demands; the reality of summer days that rendered me incapacitated by heat and/or easily enchanted by opportunities to play in the lake with my daughter; and the brutal reality that everything takes longer in real time than it does in the pristine confines of my mind, where everything is done right the first time, I stay precisely on schedule, and pretty pink pigs can routinely be seen floating gracefully across the sky.
Two Wisdom Nuggets that Help
Over time, I've run across two wisdom-nuggets that have done the most to help me stay out of the twin traps of plan-adherence-rigidity on the one hand (and the self-condemnation that rides in the sidecar alongside the downer thought that one has failed to live up to one's plans) and total planlessness on the on the other (which can be delightful in the context of intuitive art-making or living a hermited lifestyle, but makes it almost impossible to coordinate with the other humans and often leads to vague and drifty results). And, here they are:
Nugget One. In the same interview I quoted at the top of this post, Rosemary Warden talks about the idea of "wet clay planning." In wet clay planning, there's enough structure there to give shape and form to one's actions; there's a container of some substance to hold a boundary between what one is and is not focused on at that time. And yet, the clay is still wet - it never hardens into rigidity. It evolves and adjusts to ongoing shifts in pressure and emerging knowledge. The idea of "Wet clay planning" eases both my need for boundaries and my resistance to rigidity. I love it.
Nugget Two is this quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower:
"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
Though hopefully most of us don't think of our work as a battle and might prefer to talk about "Preparing to get shit done..." - old General Dwight's point is well taken. Planning - the process of zooming out one's perspective to see the wider terrain, orienting to a destination or at least a direction to travel in, and thinking through how you might get from here to there - is powerful and meaningful activity. But plans...well, they are like a Stop sign at a rural intersection: a reasonable suggestion, if it fits into your day, but ultimately subject to personal whim and extenuating circumstances. Like a lake that's calling your name real loud on a hot summer day. Or something.
Anyway, just so's you know, I moved my planned September workshop on Finding Your Creative Constellation to October to accommodate the fact that I need a wee bit more time to get the Creative Constellation Card Deck to print. I want to be able to share the cards with folks at the workshop, and I decided to move the clay around so that could happen. I left the Imperfection Workshop right where it was in November, and moved the Sustaining Your Creative Momentum workshop to an as-yet-undefined date in early 2017. And I immediately felt much, much better. My bowl felt back in balance and all is right with the world. No shame, no blame, and no September workshop to plan!
May you move easily with whatever reality adjustments your life is calling for, and remember that potter's wheel is going to keep spinning around so if you stay with it, the odds are you're going to end up somewhere really really good.
On another note: A Bit of Studio Tour Gratitude
Because I scampered out of town the very next day after this year's studio tour, I missed an opportunity to thank all of you who came out to Blueschool Arts and visited with me in my studio. I met marvelous, warm, curious, creative people all day for two days straight. You wanted to talk about glues and shadow boxes, you admired my art and let me talk about my workshops. You asked for an assemblage-making workshop...and I listened! (More on that soon.)
I always find the open studio tour to be a very moving event. Imagine if people came to your workplace for two days a year just to see where you do your thing, admire how you do it, and chat with you about your process and your tools? It can be awkward, sure, and lord knows my introverted little self needs some serious recovery and processing time afterwards...but I still find it magical and very hopeful that people come out by the hundreds to visit art and artists in our usually hidden-away workspaces.
So thank you to everyone who came out to appreciate and chat and geek out on creativity together. It means so much that you take the time and show the love. Come back next year and let's continue the conversation!