Scheduling up your Art

As I sit here in a coffee shop, I’m filled with excitement for my upcoming projects- over the next six months I am fortunate to be working as a creator/conceptualizer of new work, a director, a choreographer, a producer, and a performer. I’m reminded of that old adage about parties and vacations- sometimes the anticipation of the thing is just as exciting as the thing itself. However, I have been struck over and over by the same thought in the last few weeks- Jeez, it takes a whole lot of effort to schedule up all of this art!

What’s an over-scheduled multi-hyphenate artist to do? I think it’s important to hold yourself accountable, even if the project was originally a self driven one, in order to make sure that all your projects happen and happen well. Let’s face it- deadlines work. We’re all human- and having a “nebulous dance project that might be produced sometime in 2014” is VERY different than having money on the line for a venue on August 22nd. Suddenly, there are stakes, and it matters if the thing gets done. As a director, I’m always asking actors to “raise their stakes”- and as an artist, if you raise the stakes of your own schedule, and add artistic collaborators into the mix, you’ll find that it just does become more important to complete your artistic projects.

That being said, I don’t think you should impose impossible deadlines on yourself. Build a calendar for each project. Start big, and then break it down to the tasks that have to happen at each stage of the project. At the end of the day, achieving artistic goals is one part artistic creativity, balanced with two parts project management- you’re not free mentally to immerse yourself into a creative, childlike state of wonder if you’re constantly worried that you’re not meeting all your obligations. Make sure your life is taken care of, that you haven’t taken on TOO MANY projects, and that the two hours you’re pencilling in for rehearsal/painting/writing aren’t going to impinge on another aspect of your life.

Once you’ve done that, it’s like you’ve built yourself a park playground. You’ve made a safe, comfortable space with lots of plastic coated creative structures where you’re free to do whatever you wish. And then when it’s time to play, you get to focus on the important stuff- like how to make three dancers turn into a zombie space monkey. Or something else cool like that.

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