Spontaneity vs Planning

I was sitting in a focus group the other night, and the facilitator threw out an icebreaker question: “What do you miss most about being a kid?” I said, “I miss spontaneity. You know, deciding you were in the mood for tag and then knocking on doors until you found someone who could come out and play.” In the grown-up world, if I want to see a movie with a friend, we have to schedule it three weeks out.

Maybe artists are more attracted to spontaneity than the average Joe because creative bursts so often hit us out of nowhere. Maybe we learn to equate spontaneous brilliance with satisfaction.

I wish I could wake up every day and say, “What do I feel like doing right now.” But the real world doesn’t allow that. The real world demands that bills get paid and kids get fed and errands get run. Like it or not, to a certain extent, every artist needs to plan.

So how do we strike that balance between planning and spontaneous exploration? We’re not really the types to devise five-year plans, and even if we did create one, chances are it would change entirely by year two. Or worse, we’d get so fixated on our plan we’d fail to recognize growth opportunities when they appeared.

On the other hand, it’s bad business to just move forward willy-nilly. It’s not really true that you can “manifest” money, no matter how much we wish it were. It’s not as simple as believing, “if you follow your passion, the money will follow.”

So it behooves us as artists to sometimes step back and evaluate where we are on our career path, revisit our goals, restructure our work days, move beyond projects that aren’t gelling, etc. It takes some periodic soul searching to keep us on our path. And it takes admitting that sometimes we’ve reached a fork in the road and must decide if a whole new direction would serve us better.

We are solopreneurs, like it or not, and if we believe in our art, if we value it and want others to as well, we have to sometimes step back and ask ourselves what we need to move forward. Is it more money? More time for our art? A better work space? A more encouraging group of friends? If so, how do you plan to improve those areas of your work and life? How can you better support yourself so you can bring your best art to the world?