Planning To Fight Artistic Stagnation: Part 3

It’s been an exciting week for this ol’ clarinetist as the electro-acoustic project is officially up and stumbling. I can’t say “running” just yet since all I’ve got are two demo songs but I’m nonetheless excited about taking this project all the way, and the inevitable world domination that will follow.

The impetus for this quick & dirty demo came from FACTOR (The Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings), or more specifically, from the faint possibility of receiving funding from FACTOR to record a full-length album. The deadline was yesterday, so fingers crossed that this new music sufficiently blows FACTORs mind. I’d also like to offer a shout-out to producer/singer-songwriter/drummer/engineer Joel Fountain, who spent many hours (including one ludicrous all-nighter) in order to get this thing off in time. Thanks Joel!

So what does this have to do with planning?

Why? Everything, of course. You see, it was a plan (albeit a rough one) that put me into action, like so …

After writing down some ideas for what music I’d like to be presenting 1 year from now, I realized that I’d really like to see this new electro-acoustic project come together sooner than later. Ideally, this new music would be written, recorded, and touring in one year. Then I started working my way backwards: playing 2010 jazz festivals means submitting recordings by December 2009, which means mixing/mastering/producing said recordings by November, editing in September, and recording this Summer, which requires applying for government funding this spring. Ta-da!!

Now, this is just a small example of identifying a goal and then working backwards to establish the steps and time frames necessary, but look at the momentum it gave me! Just imagine what could be done with a far-reaching, idealistic, detailed 5 – 10 year plan! Imagine what it would be like to work towards achieving that designated “impossibility,” waking up each morning knowing the steps you’d take that day to get you one step closer to your dream. You’d find it hard to sleep at night because of the excitement welling up inside of you.

Is this exciting or what!?

What’s that? … No? … You’re, not excited? I’m what now? … The biggest artistic planning dork on Earth?

Oh yeah? Well let’s see who’s laughing after I come’atcha with
Part 3 of Planning To Fight Artistic Stagnation!

And now, to recap:

Part 1:

Your plan must be flexible because it will change, sometimes drastically. It’s guaranteed. But just because it will change, doesn’t make today’s plan of action any less valid!

Part 2:

Self-analysis. Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Then decide what it is that you really want, artistically, financially, and lifestyle-wise. How does it look? How would your life, and your art, play out in ideal circumstances?

Part 2B:

Thinking Beyond Your Current Reality. Don’t be afraid to think ridiculously big in this part and avoid “realism” just yet, remembering that our minds will tend to legitimize negativity by labeling it “realistic.”

and now …

Part 3:

Constructing a 3-5 year plan

That’s right folks, it was a long time coming but now that we’ve dealt with some inner demons we are gonna walk straight into that Lion’s den of artistic stagnation and deliver that over-sized feline a punishingly humiliating bitch slap!

So how did I design this next step? Easy, I went to a guy who has made a career out of organizing/planning for companies,… my Dad, Ken. (And yes, I see the irony too. Let’s not be cheeky now.) And so I’m going to call this:

Old Man Danderfer’s 3-5 year plan construction

In such a fast moving world, it doesn’t make sense to plan further than 3-5 years. In fact, things get fuzzy when planning beyond 1 year because a lot will change in a given year. That said, if you’re planning big then you have to plan beyond a year because it will likely take much longer than a year to get there.

STEP 1: You must start from a bigger perspective: “What do I have to achieve to consider myself to be ‘successful’.”

STEP 2: This doesn’t involve time lines at first, what you’re doing is listing objectives. That could be money, or playing carnegie hall, or just “I want to play this kind of music.” 2b If your objectives aren’t compatible with each other (ie Let’s say you wanted to earn 500k a year playing avante-garde jazz exclusively,… it probably doesn’t add up) then you’ve got to adjust one or both of the conflicting objectives.

STEP 3: Make a list of what needs to be done to fulfill the objectives. What are the milestones that have to be met? (ie Winning an award, or playing at a famous theatre, or making a new album with 10 great songs, etc.) There should be challenging time frames attached to each milestone in order to push you.

STEP 4: Break down each step into detailed sub-steps of time frame. Months and weeks. For example, let’s say I need to write 40 songs to get 10 songs worth publishing, so … I have to write 10 songs per quarter and 2-3 of them must be publish worthy.

Now, you might find that you don’t have the tools to achieve objectives, therefore the 1st year may be about getting those tools.

Once the plan is outlined keep asking every week “Am I on schedule? If not, why? … If I fulfilled the goal, did I fulfill it up to the standard required?”

At the end of these 4 steps you should have a document that’s about 3 or 4 pages.

Well I don’t know about you but I’m game! I’ve got a feeling that this part 3 is going to be a challenging one. By next Saturday, however, I will have my 3-4 page document in hand come Hell or high water. If you’re following along with any of these steps (and I know some of you are!) then feel free to drop me a line and let me know how it’s going.

Ever onwards!

This weeks painting is by Ramaz Razmadze

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