Do you “journal”? To me, a “journal” is still a noun – I am just not disciplined enough to write down my thoughts everyday in a meaningful, artful journal-ese way. That doesn’t mean I don’t take notes and write out ideas and make outlines for classes and write/sketch constantly on scraps of paper or in my Lefty Date Book.
See? Look at these notes – clear, organized, legible. . . . not.
Seriously, though, since Michele Belto and I have started working with The Enso Circle group, I am learning the value of keeping track of my time just so I can see were it goes. I devised five questions for the group to fill out at the end every week for that very purpose. I’ve started answering these questions for myself every Friday, and it’s helping me keep track of my projects and my processes.
Here are the five questions, below. They are specifically designed for our Enso art group, but anyone can use them by changing a couple of words. If you want to use them, feel free.
I suggest you print them out and put them somewhere, then answer them once a week on the same day. Don’t spend more than five minutes on this but do it every week. And save your answers in a file or folder so you can track them after a few weeks.
What took up most of your headspace this week?
What was your proudest art-related accomplishment this week?
What one specific step did you take toward your goals?
What was your biggest obstacle this week in moving toward your
If someone gave you a present to help motivate you next week,
what would it be?
So, one of the things that I have learned from answering these for the last couple of weeks is that “Life happens.” My headspace gets filled with unexpected family distractions, or appliance breakdowns, or an email that needs immediate attention, or an offer that is too good to pass up. We just have to balance our time in the best way we can.
The “biggest obstacle” question is related to this. Often the obstacle is something unexpected and un-preventable. I just got my flu shot today, and it may lay me low tomorrow just when I need to be working. Oh, well. It’s important to get the flu shot. Balance it.
It’s super-important to concentrate on the proud moments and those small accomplishments that nobody but you might understand. Today I taped the sides of six 24x24x2” cradle board panels with masking tape – it was incredibly boring, but I did it! This kind of achievement is like prepping to paint a room – you gotta do it if you want the job done right, but it is spectacularly tedious.
The last question about a “present” is fun. It could be something silly, like having somebody show up at your door who loves to put masking tape on panels, or it could be something serious like a call from a gallery offering you a solo show. But by answering this question, you are allowed to wish (and therefore define) any short-term assistance that might move you forward. And by defining it, you might even figure out a way to get it, or something reasonably close.
If you are journaler (and I admire your dedication) you can include these in your journal every week. If like me, you are more of a random note collector, you can answer these every Friday on your computer, or jot them down on a sticky note, or whatever you choose. But the point is to give yourself a consistent creative check-up. You’ll make better progress when you can reflect a bit on how far you’ve come that week. And no matter what your answers are, I’ll bet you’ll enjoy the process.