first day alternative right brain planning process uses an image Day 1 Planning a Big Hairy Project that Scares Me Half to Death

Beginning a new project, especially a daunting one, is hard. Turning vague ideas and boundless possibilities into concrete steps can seem like an impossible leap. I have been struggling to start this big new project. I finally realized I am scared to death. I don’t like to fail, and maybe this might fail. On the other hand, maybe it will be incredibly wonderful. Who knows? Do you have a crystal ball? Me neither.

Sometimes there is no clear place to begin but at the beginning of things or in the middle of things or at any random location where you find yourself. In other words, to start exactly where you are.  For me today, this is to admit I am intimidated and possible terrified. It all seems too hard! (Click on the photo to see it bigger.)

So today I began my seriously playful planning by: quickly selecting an image and writing on it about how I feel about starting this project. Took about five minutes, tops.

How I selected the image: intuitively. I noticed it in the incoming junk mail and tore it off the cover of a brochure. Then I folded it strategically and glued it into a reclaimed empty notebook (NOT ON THE FIRST PAGE!!!  How could I put what I am not sure it is at the front of the book?!); wrote on it; wrote a little more.  That’s it.

If you are wondering how to get started, maybe you could try something like that? An image that catches your eye, a couple notes, and call it done.

ps There is no way to do this wrong. You can put the nice picture on any page you like. And you can use any kind of picture you like. You can draw your own or cut one from a magazine. Whatever works for you is fine.  And this is not Art with a capital A. It is messily playful —  like doodling or squirting mustard on a sandwich. Just sayin’.

How to Begin a New Project

by Barbara Martin

in Planning

Down with spreadsheets! Right Brain project planning tools A new right brain way to plan projects using simple art and office supplies

Are you familiar with the typical type of planning process for projects — the quantifiable goals, the schedule, the step by step checks on progress?  The cut and dried picture, the success: fail scenario, the rigidity of mindset this kind of planning inspires? How does that work for you?  Me neither. Makes me want to run away.

On the other hand, undoubtedly a certain amount of thoughtful planning can help any project move forward more smoothly than not; and knowing the general vicinity of where the end point might be is helpful in keeping efforts at least somewhat focused. And an occasional gentle look-see at where we are (and where we are not) in the process can also help with focus and, dare I say it, insert a certain sense of calm. Calm helps us think clearly and work effectively.  Less worry means more energy for what really matters: getting the work done.

All of which leads me to show you the atypical planning tools I am bringing to the table tonight. This is the very first of many small steps ahead of me. I have a big project in my mind. I want to make it real. I want to work on it. But it has so  many moving parts that I am not sure I can pull it off.  And of course, as it so often does, Life is tossing me curve balls.

But I am not willing to put this project away until later. I am not ready to say I am too busy, too distracted, too unfocused, too sick and tired to work on it at all. And I do not want to drop too many balls once it begins in earnest. Determination!

Frankly, the only way to get this project going, like anything, is to begin it. That is,  take action toward the end goal as best as I understand that goal to be — gazing far ahead into the unknowable. Gawp.

What I do know is that if I take a small step and then another small step …. this project will begin grinding creakily into action and eventually get into gear so it finally runs on its own unstoppable momentum. Or something like that.

So, I hereby begin. I have collected these tools. Or toys. Or playthings. Or modest jumble of art supplies including a hand-me-down journal. I am willing to improvise as required to move forward. I know it will not be perfect, and that is Okay. Because the alternative is worse: not to begin is the true form of “failure” for sure.

What do you need to get started on or start planning for? Or if you have already planned, how is it working out for you so far? Do you have a plan that needs to be made real, to happen in the real world — in other words, something you need to begin putting into gear?

You can do it! One small step begins it.  Join me by pulling together the “documentation” materials you would enjoy using to make a solid concept plan. Note: no spreadsheets required. No numbers required. Maybe later, a little bit, but not right now. For now, a vague idea and some materials you enjoy playing with. No art skill required. Just a willingness to play around. That is all.






Prepare for Mercury Retrograde and Beyond

Today in my email I came across the following: “MERCURY GOES RETROGRADE NOVEMBER 6th….when a planet goes retrograde, it exerts a negative influence in the areas of life that it rules. Mercury is the planet of time, communication, and commerce. …for 3 weeks, these areas will be out of balance, and chaos abounds. Computers break […]

Read the full article →

Getting Back Together and a SHOW

A blog is not a living thing, and yet it seems to take on a life of its own. Pehaps it exists in parallel to our own reality, perhaps separate, perhaps dependent upon it, I really don’t know for sure. But I do know that recently I have had a strong urge to return to writing […]

Read the full article →

Challenge Results Revealed: Process or Product

It’s Monday and time for the “secret color challenge with a twist” BIG REVEAL!  Three pieces, ten days, required elements. WITH GRAFFITI!  Just for fun, I’ll let you study the photos and guess the 3 colors and figure out the twist. Yes, there is a quiz!  After that, we can ruminate on the value of doing […]

Read the full article →

Finding a Creative Community

There is something magical that happens when artists get together in a friendly group and make art, but I am not exactly sure what it is. It might be synergy; it might be the proverbial mutual admiration society at work; it might be the fun of seeing what everyone is doing; it might be the relief of feeling […]

Read the full article →

Secret Challenge Revealed

Today Jordan Hill and I reveal the results of the secret art challenge!  Last week we set up a private color challenge:  we independently selected two colors each and then combined our choices. We were to make 5 pieces with these colors. By today. And we did! The secret challenge colors: lime green soft yellow red silvery lilac […]

Read the full article →

Self Imposed Challenge for Growth

It took me a long time to realize that while artists may seem to have an inborn talent, they actually develop their art making skills by practicing. Doodles? Practice. Sketching? Practice. Staring into space? Practice.  They work it out over many attempts. Just like a toddler toddles and then walks, artists scribble and then draw.  […]

Read the full article →

The Artist Label

Sometimes it takes us a while to realize who we are, what we really want to be doing, where we want to be. To some extent there is an inevitable evolution as we age and mature, gain experience and awareness, and of course, make our share of mistakes and mis-steps and false starts and misguided attempts.  […]

Read the full article →

How to Begin

A week ago Monday, I lugged home a (clean) trash sack stuffed with ten (very clean, empty) cigar boxes all the way from Pasadena. It seemed like a good idea at the time because I’m excited about collage and assemblage right now and sturdy wooden cigar boxes are a handy size for small assemblage pieces. […]

Read the full article →