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-a self-help guide for artists & writers- Writer, Painter, Photographer, Musician, Designer, Animator, Graphic Artist, Programmer, Screenwriter, Dancer, Environmental Artist, Textile Artist, Composer, Weaver, Sculptor... For decades, this brother and sister team have studied what works and what doesn’t when trying to convince your Inner Artist to cooperate. No matter what your craft, there are common themes to what works and what doesn’t. This is a guide of research and practical tips for working with your Inner Artist / Writer in the crazy everyday world of a hundred demands and a thousand more distractions. M.L. “Matt” Buchman - the brother 30-year Project Manager and full-time writer NPR Top 5 Romance Novel of 2012 Barnes & Noble Best 5 Romance 2013 M.L. “Melitte” Buchman - the sister One of the nation’s top Digital Archivists and part-time tintype photographer & instructor “Why do we have the same initials? Our mother had a good sense of humor.”
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Managing Your Inner Artist / Writer:
Strategies for Success
by M.L. Buchman(s)
Copyright 2014 Matthew Lieber Buchman
Published by Buchman Bookworks, Inc.
All rights reserved.
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.
Discover more by this author at: www.buchmanbookworks.com
Hand take white ball with red inscription Goals achieving ID 77648568 © Emevil
Fine Writing Instrument (back cover)
© Shawn Roberts
To our spouses for supporting our Inner Artist and putting up with our outer mayhem.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain
Table of Contents
Section I: The Basics
Chapter 1 –Working with Your Inner Artist –Part I
Chapter 2 –Project Defined
Chapter 3 –Goals Basics
Chapter 4 –Finding Your Big Goal
Chapter 5 –What About All Those Other Goals
Section II: Taking it Up a Notch
Chapter 6 –Time Management –Part I
Chapter 7 –Working with Your Inner Artist –Part II
Section III: Making it Practical
Chapter 8 –Time Management –Part II
Chapter 9 –Risk Management
Chapter 10 –The Action Plan
Chapter 11 –Working with Your Inner Artist –Part III
Section IV: Taking it “Home” And Owning It
Chapter 12 –Core Principles –why you do what you do
Chapter 13 –Project Block
Chapter 14 –Working with Your Inner Artist –a few final words
PURPOSE / ORIGINS
The purpose of this work is to lay the groundwork for the artist in each of us to be nurtured. We hope to offer a practical way to allow the business of art to thrive without impinging on the creative process.
This began as a series of lectures presented to both writing and business professionals regarding the project management of an artist, especially when that artist is oneself. It has been presented to hundreds of writers covering every genre.
The authors have collaborated to create a structure and methodology (a way of thinking and a way to do things) that is accessible to every artist whether they are a writer, a photographer, a painter, or a professional sand-sculpturist (who even knew there was such a thing until we saw them specifically disbarred from a local sand-castling competition on the Oregon Coast).
“Why do we have the same initials? Our mother had a good sense of humor.”
The Brother –the primary voice of this work
M.L. “Matt” Buchman is an internationally published author of romance, thrillers, and fantasy novels. NPR selected one of his novels as “Top 5 Romance of 2012.” Another was picked by Booklist as “Top 10 Romance of 2012.” A third was named “Barnes & Noble Best 5 Romance of 2013.” He has taught creative fiction writing at the University of Washington as well as lectured at dozens of seminars and conferences over the last twenty years. He has also worked as a project manager for over thirty years and been a trainer on behalf of Project Management International. He has led a wide variety of projects in industries as diverse as publishing, law, construction, and I.T. He studied operatic vocal production for several years and has played a wide variety of instruments badly. He had the good sense to fall in love with a research librarian and is the first to proclaim that he has the best kid on the planet (so don’t get him started). He is constantly astonished at what can be done with a degree in Geophysics. (http://www.mlbuchman.com)
The Sister –the reality check behind this work, because my little brother really needs one!
M.L. “Melitte” Buchman, MFA, a noted practitioner and teacher of tintype photography, has worked for decades leading digital archiving projects for such notable institutions as New York Public Library (NYPL) and New York University (NYU). In frequent demand as a conference speaker, it is the photographic process that motivates her to enter the darkroom and explore what is possible. Her choice of true love was an abstract painter who worked for decades behind the scenes in various NYC galleries and institutions. Between them, they continue to nurture many artists, especially themselves. (http://www.melittebuchman.com)
WHAT THIS BOOK IS…AND ISN’T
The first lecture in this series began when Matt became overwhelmed by the problems of how to write, work to contract deadlines in traditional publishing, publish his own work in the (then) new indie-publishing, and learn all that he felt he had to learn…while working a totally insane day job.
Through a long series of experiments, both failed and successful, and wide study, we decided that the conflicts and overlaps became easier to manage when we divided our thinking into three areas:• The craft of our art.• The business person managing our art.• The business of our art.
This book is intended to reside completely within the second of these three. This is not a book of craft in any field. Nor is this a book of the business side of whatever craft you practice. This is a book talking to the person who must manage both of these in any field.
Further, within that middle role, we can easily list dozens of sub-roles. These roles can all be filled by one person. (Matt’s friend Scott Carter, who we’ll revisit later, calls his writing career: “Running a publishing empire from my laptop.”) Or these roles can be filled by many people. Each form of art will be unique, but may include common items such as:• Education• Educator –for often the best way to learn is to teach• Finance• Insurance• Designer• Contract specialist• Materials analyst• Purchasing• Marketing…
The list feels infinite, and we have no intention of trying to address infinity (just in case it turns out that the list really is infinite, we’d rather not know). What we are going to focus on is this single, all-important task:
Managing your inner artist to the greatest success.
That success can be defined as monetary, creative, innovative, and a myriad of other ways. But the challenge we faced was: how can we best help that inner artist find their way toward your chosen goal.
This task can’t be outsourced. No one can create a document and present it to your inner artist that will help them. No one can demand of the inner artist what they are unable or unwilling to give. Or that they flat out don’t understand. Attempting to do so will usually cause anxiety and / or guilt, and shut down the inner artist, the last thing you want.
This role of managing and nurturing must be owned by the artist themselves for only they will know what works and what doesn’t.
The intention of this book is to offer a tool set to aid “You the practical person” in working in a collaborative (as opposed to authoritative) manner with “You the artist.”
This book will use the word “Project” frequently. We will explore a variety of definitions, but those are just words. For the purposes of this book, think of a “Project” as whatever it is you create: book, story, photograph, painting, pottery, cupcakes, film, song, cartoons, or any of the thousands of other forms that art takes in our creative lives.
A WORD OF WARNING
We will be presenting dozens of tools and tips for working with your inner artist. Pick them up, try them on, fool around with them, see if they might fit if done a little differently… Whatever works.
HOWEVER! (and we can’t emphasize this enough) if you find one of these tools doesn’t work for you, don’t just put it down. Throw it away! Far away! Fire up the welding torch and make a metal sculpture out of it. None of these are facts, these are ideas and methods and tips, no more, no less.
A few times over the years we have been struck or seen people struck with the “BRILLIANT! MUST CHANGE IT NOW!” idea that will “fix” everything. If this books spurs one of those, great! However, we suggest waiting two weeks. If it is a truly valid change, it will still be revelatory two weeks from now. If not, the shine will definitely be tarnished within two weeks. We’ve seen people leap into affairs “Because she understands my art,” make extravagant purchases “Because I need that and can’t do my art without it,” and a dozen other similar messes. Did we kick off the big brainstorm? Great! Just give it two weeks to make sure that quitting your career, cutting family ties, and moving to Indonesia actually makes sense.
SECTION I THE BASICS
Chapter 1 Working with Your Inner Artist Part I
MEET THE ARTIST
There are dozens, and in some fields hundreds of books on: connecting with the inner artist, setting out on a mythic voyage together, cosmic art through deep meditation, how to apply Scrum Master computer programmer scheduling techniques to steer your inner artist down a narrow trail exactly so wide and going exactly in such and such direction. If they work for you, GREAT! Between us we’ve read many, many of these books, occasionally giving them to each other for Christmas and birthdays (we settled on opposite sides of the U.S., so it’s hard to just trade them around). We each use some parts, discard others, often not the same parts.
In almost every book we find what might be called a common flaw, or at least a common element. That is:
We need to somehow control the inner artist.
Matt is working on a contracted book right now with a major publisher for his fifth novel in a series. The reason he is drafting this chapter on this day is that his inner artist had a great time doing the first two-thirds of the novel, and then Matt made the mistake of thinking this would get him way ahead of contract especially if the artist would just hurry up on the last third. The artist dug his heels in and here Matt is writing this chapter instead.
So many books talk about fooling “yourself” or convincing “yourself” or buckling down and doing “your work.” What we find is that the inner artist is a squirrelly and savvy little dude or gal that thinks in their own way.
Hence, we have a suggestion. Start with:
WHO IS THE ARTIST ANYWAY?
There are actually a number of studies in psychology to support the idea below. (And no, we’re not going into them here. This isn’t that sort of book. If you want to study psychology, go for it.)
Imagine a creative genius, ideas pouring forth at a mile-a-minute, who hates being told what to do. Anyone who’s had a two-year-old kid, you know exactly what we’re talking about. That’s your artist. That’s the keeper of story.
And we’re convinced that almost all art is story. Whether it is the tale telling of a writer, the evocative image of the photographer, or the shout of the graffiti artist; there is a story there to be told and felt. This “creative genius within” is grouchy, elusive, can flip from pure creativity to pure stubbornness way faster than you can blink.
The secret is, it can also flip back the other way and run around the room giggling. As a matter of fact, that’s its natural state. So we M.L. Buchman(s) are working every day to “free the inner artist” just as so many of those artist self-help books would have us do.
One of our keys?
We would suggest that you are not one person, but two. One is the artist and one is the person who “lives in the real world.” There is a part of every artist who wants to live in the real world. When someone tells us to do that, there is a part of us that wants to achieve, that gets high on getting things done. And, most of all, wants success, however we may choose to define success (more on that later).
However, telling the inner artist to “live in the real world” is a sure-fire way to piss them off. If you insist, or even push too hard as Matt did this morning on his artist, you can actually get blocked. Writer’s block, more aptly called Project Block, can come from several sources (which we’ll address in a later chapter), but the most common source is probably poor communication with yourself.
Hereafter we’ll be referring to two people: practical-self and artist-self. (We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.)
The problem isn’t what is being communicated, and possibly not even how you’re communicating it, it’s who you’re communicating it to. Just try telling:• the inner artist-self to “get their act together”
or• the real-world practical-self to “write the next scene.”
You will completely stymie both of them, neither one will even know what you mean. Both messages are critical, but they are being delivered to completely the wrong aspects of you.
Our suggestion? Split your brain. Think about who you are communicating with and address that person.
What if instead we said:• hey, inner artist-self, wanna go play in creative world for a bit?
or• hey, real-world practical-self, could you make some time in your schedule for the inner artist-self to go play?
These will be much more effective communications.
HINT: Some people even address their artist-self by a different name. We don’t because it’s still us in there. But if that works for you, may we suggest Lucinda or Clyde. No particular reason, we just like the names.
The big key here is keep your business-person practical-self out of your playspace. The playspace is the giant room filled with just the neatest stuff on the planet. The workplace is a nasty, dark, evil quagmire that your artist-self wants nothing to do with under any circumstances.
KEEPING YOUR “REAL” WORLDOUT OF THE PLAYSPACE
Why go to the trouble of identifying your creative playspace?
Once you acknowledge the existence of such a distinction, then it becomes easier to separate tasks and make choices. It can even increase your creative productivity. How? For example, Matt works in “sessions” (more on this later). During those sessions, no business is allowed in, verbotten. It is strictly creative time. That allows a mental freedom to write without having to worry about other tasks. The artist-self is told, “This is your time. No tricks, honest. Go forth and revel.”
Studies have shown that a single interruption of computer programmers will cause them to take eleven minutes to get back up to speed. And that’s switching back to the same task as before, never mind a different task. (Having worked as both a programmer and a writer, Matt knows that computer programming is actually a highly creative space to work in.)
Ever wonder why most corporate computer departments don’t have phones that can reach programmers? The Help Desk isn’t there so much for the user’s convenience, but more to protect the programmers. A programmer is a very expensive resource and corporations want to keep them functioning as efficiently as possible.
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