I walk the line between a nerd and a free spirit. This does not seem typical of what most might describe as "artsy", and I am not someone that gets that privileged title at first glance either. I enjoy organization and I have a deeply rooted need for things to be correct and how I like them to be. On the other hand, I enjoy allowing my words to "take walks" and discover themselves; I crock pot ideas and let them slowly release their flavor until finally something brilliant emerges. Together, this twisted material with twiney data and numbers mixed with colorful words and mind maps makes up who I am.
So rule number 1 in planning: Find YOU
As an artist, it is essential to know who you are: it allows you to appreciate others and their work. Knowing there is talent and true giftedness in an area allows me to focus on what it is I am most gifted to do. This can be extremely difficult if you are used to plowing into a project full speed (I know because that was me). Maturity in your skill comes when you are willing to place trust in those who are gifted beyond you in another area. A wonderful freedom and sense of balance arises when you sit in your gift and allow it to cling to you, wrap itself around you, and interlace with your accomplishments and root itself in your soul. Think of this not as a heavy blanket, but a pair of custom overalls, with places for you to put your tools, a way for you to still have flexibility and movement, and an identity all your own.
Rule number 2: No rabbit trails!
Yesterday I was chatting with a branding and marketing consultant and he used the phrase "sideways energy". I just love what a visual that created for me. In the world of branding, this occurs when you have too many distractions in what you are trying to convey to your audience, such as multiple logos or competing vision statements within your organization. This can just as easily happen in your life. You cannot move forward if you are moving sideways; it is physically impossible. Try this: only step sideways while trying to walk forward...did you fall? (thought so.) The point is you cannot be in two places at once; you have to pick a direction and follow it.
Rule number 2.5: Enter the Free spirit with a plan
As you are moving in a forward direction, plan in hand, eye to the sky, intensely following your route to making your reality, there is some benefit to taking a risk and seeing where a new path can take you. I say this with caution, a free spirit with a plan knows where he is when he takes the detour. This is important because it will determine the direction he heads if he gets into trouble. Not knowing all the details can be liberating and a chance to let your creative muscles stretch out and breathe. At the end, you may surprise yourself at what you can accomplish, what you learn along the way, and how much farther ahead you will be.
Artists were not all created equal in the sense that we sit barefoot under trees with pallet in hand or lead lives that are messy and wild. Some of us walk in business shoes and suits waiting to take others to places they have never dreamed, some dabble in finger paint and change generations one child at a time. No matter what your gift, what space you currently occupy there is an artist restless within you, get to know him...see where he takes you!