I’ve been mulling over my direction, reflecting on my 2010 and looking forward to what I’d like to receive and achieve in 2011 and have come up with the following mantra:
2011 will be my year of Narrowed Adventure.
By that, I mean I am trying to narrow my focuses while still remaining open to possibilities coming my way. There are certain places, people and things I need to trim back on and others I need to foster. It’s time to take these things I’ve picked up on my way and organize and entrench myself in them, instead of still reaching further out while letting my current likes and haves stay stagnant. I’ve written before about how I don’t have resolutions for the new year, but instead try and have intentions. This year I’m moving even further beyond that with just one intention that reaches all aspects of my life.
So how do you achieve balance and focus while not getting too mired in the details?
It’s easy to get dazzled by things that are completely new and foreign, especially if they’re at all connected to what you love. While inspiration is wonderful and it’s beautiful to watch and appreciate, try to figure out if what you really want is to be involved or just to appreciate. So often I find myself wanting to do and be involved in everything I find interesting. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to keep and what to step back from, make a list of those interests that take up your time. Really track how much time you spend on those pursuits and see if they match up with where you want to be spending your time. This isn’t about should or shouldn’t. Look it over and find those two or three that absolutely thrill you and that you really want to develop.
For me, my top priorities for 2011 are:
- Writing – I want to really get back to creative writing, blogging and fiction
- Dance – I made this a high priority in 2010 and I’m still captivated by burlesque and specifically movement. I want to continue to expand my performing retinue, create new opportunities, and enrich my teaching
- Costuming – In addition to dance, I really want to expand on new costuming drawn from historic and fantastic examples to more envelope my audience into the world I’m creating on stage.
And to tie those and my year together, Organization. – This reaches every aspect of my life, and something I’ve been lacking and honestly, genuinely want to work and spend time on.
There are several other things I could list here that I love and still want to learn, but Im going to honor these things by prioritizing them over my other creative interests.
Prune other Pursuits
Once you’ve chosen your priorities, it’s time to find a place for the others that will not interfere with your top choices. If these others are essential to your life, you can outsource them if you have the means to, or find an intern to work with. You can also spend very small amounts of time there, 20% or less, if it’s something that can significantly impact your craft. Make sure though, if you are still going to spend time on these “lesser” pursuits, that they directly contribute to your focus, otherwise eliminate them.
Hone your Craft
Whether that’s crafting, writing, painting, or even non-“creative” pursuits. Give serious time to your art and foster it. This may be taking classes, workshops, researching, or just investing time. This is one of the scarier parts. If you’re a wider lens person like me, it’s nice to be the jack of all trades, because even if you’re not the best, you can still say, “but look, I do all these other things too!” Instead of letting your inner critic tell you you’re not good enough, just say, well I will be, that’s why I’m here, spending time and effort in order to get better, to evolve. I’ve signed on for dance classes in the spring, began a time map for 2011 and have blocked out specific writing times and goals.
Share your art
Connect with others who share your passion. This can be so instrumental for fostering new ideas, for continuing to evolve your own work, and for helping your field become richer. I absolutely love teaching burlesque, and part of that is because I get to give my art and I learn so much from the different interpretations of my choreography. I get to feed into this community and reap the benefits of the new pieces that come out if it, which in turn, inspire and enrich my own art.
Find a Mentor or a Critic
This is definitely something I am striving for in 2011. The importance of mentors is something not often discussed but essential for good art. If a mentor isn’t available, try and make that group of your peers also be a safe space for critique. While encouragement is necessary at all levels of creation, constructive criticism I believe is also instrumental. It allows you to see what others find confusing and what resonates with them. And then you can choose to keep or reject that criticism, but you should feel more justified if you can answer the questions raised by those peers or a mentor. Your aim will be more clear and concise knowing that you will have to defend your artistic choices.
Find your Dream Goals
Look for new ways to expose your art to the world. It can be so hard to stay cooped up working on a piece when you don’t have an end, or even an idea of an end, in sight. So even though you know you’re working on something that won’t be done for a long time, if you have a festival, or an art gallery, or a magazine that you really want it in, it will help you get through those lumps of not feeling worthy, of wanting to give up halfway through.
This is the most important step! Although you’ve narrowed your focus, be open to opportunities that may not be what you think of. Maybe you don’t get into your dream magazine, but you still have that goal for the next piece. All those things on your list in the Prioritize step, you can use that. Be creative still using your niche to gain a broader audience and richer experience.
How was your 2010? What is your focus for 2011?