When I tell other artists about my love for planning my projects, I’m usually met with some awkward stares. Doesn’t planning go against being creative, spontaneous, and in the moment? How is it possible to create when every moment is already planned out and accounted for? Well fellow artists, I used to think that, too. But the truth is, planning is not only a NECESSITY for creating as a freelance dance artist, but when used well, it actually improves the project. This may seem a tough pill to swallow, so today I’m giving you my top 3 arguments for why you need to plan your projects.
- Creativity Needs a Direction
I will never stop saying this: It’s incredibly important to understand your goals when you start creating. This doesn’t mean that you have to be rigid with your idea of what the final product will be – it’s about knowing what you’re trying to accomplish so your creativity has a direction. This level of gentle guidance helps to ensure that your project is cohesive and works well as a whole. Perhaps even more importantly, I’ve found that planning is the best way to help give your project purpose – and give your audience a reason to experience it.
- Ideas Need to be Communicated
Some of the best pieces of art are created in collaboration, and collaboration means communicating creative ideas. It’s one thing to come into a project with the ideas in your head, and it’s a completely different story to actually consider how you will communicate those ideas. Taking the time to put your ideas into words, images, or video and plan how you will present them to your collaborators is the best way to give your ideas the presentation they deserve. Communicating your ideas is all about getting everyone on the same page to understand your vision, and there’s nothing worse than an idea going to waste because no one could understand it.
- SOMEONE Needs to Be Organized
Being a freelance artist seems like a romantic idea – you get to create whatever you want, whenever you want. But the reality is that a freelance artist is often both the creator and the producer/manager of every project they want to create. As a freelance dance artist, you probably don’t have the budget to hire a stage manager or other organized personnel, but all of the same tasks need to get done whether you have a stage manager or not. Rehearsals need to be scheduled, costumes and props need to be bought or put together, music rights acquired, venue permission secured, and the most important task: nothing can be lost or forgotten. I’ve found that the best way to tackle this formidable problem is to change the definition of ‘freelance artist’ to ‘freelance artist AND producer.’ As soon as I started thinking of myself as the coordinator as well as the creator of my projects, my creative process got smoother, my collaborators were happier, and we were able to produce much more intricate end-products. SOMEONE needs to be organized, and if you’re a freelance artist, that someone is YOU.
It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘freedom’ of being a freelance artist and romanticize the idea. I like to think of a different romantic image of the freelance artist – the image where an artist is working night and day, hustling and grinding to both create and produce a spectacular end-product that they can take full credit for. Now THAT’S what I call a freelance artist, and it sure takes a lot of planning.