This month in the Facebook group I have started talking about what happens when life interrupts your plans. I was delayed in posting as I regularly do because COVID finally hit our house in late April. Thankfully, it was uneventful for us, but the things on the To Do list did not get done and I had to accept that because I just couldn’t get out of bed. And of course, this newsletter was supposed to come out yesterday, but yesterday was the day my baby turned double digits so this newsletter had to take a back seat to the cake, presents, decorations and other birthday prep. Life is like that sometimes and it might be better to think of our plans as guidelines and our To Do lists as suggestions in order to make it easier to adjust when the inevitable wrench comes our way.
Creativity can be like that too. You make a plan for something that you want to create and in your mind, it’s clear. But, when you step into the studio to get started, things do not go according to plan. Sometimes the wrench comes in the middle of a project and sometimes it comes at the end. When I started the Victims Quilt Project, I made one large quilt covering the shootings from Columbine to Orlando and as soon as it was finished (all 115 inches square of it), I thought, “That is not going to work” and I took it apart again. Even though that really sucked, it was the right thing to do and the entire series is much better for it. Had I not taken it apart, the individual banners would not have been able to hang down both sides of the hallway where they were first exhibited. Seeing that hallway lined with names was powerful, akin to the experience of being at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., and that would not have happened if I had not gone to Plan B.
But, shifting to Plan B isn’t easy, at least for me. I am awfully stubborn and when I create a plan, I want it to work, darn it! It’s also easy to become so focused on Plan A that it can be hard to even see Plan B. Here’s the advice that I shared in the group about how to plan a pivot:
- Start by going back to your original goal. What were you trying to achieve? Is that goal still right? If yes, then you just need a new path to get there. (And it’s totally okay to stop working on something if that goal isn’t right for you anymore.)
- Step back and reassess. Is there another way? A different method or technique? A new color? Can you turn something upside down? Explore all of the options.
- When you stumble across an option that screams “that’s it!” you’ve found your Plan B. Be patient though because you may pass through a whole lot of “Oh, I suppose that would work.” before you really hit on the right solution. Give yourself a few days (months) if you need to. The right solution is there for you, but it may need to marinate.
Do you have a project that needs a Plan B? Let go of Plan A (it was just a guideline anyway!) and open yourself up to the possibilities of Plan B.
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