In Steven Pressfield's, "The War of Art" and the follow up "Turning Pro", he champions coming to your creative side as a professional, as work, as a job. His hard-boiled approach is pragmatic and refreshing. For me it reinforced and supported the work I was doing to organize and consider my works as projects. When I say projects, I mean in the project management sense.
So what is a "project"?
The class I took in project management so long ago laid that out as:
A series of tasks to be carried out by a set of resources to deliver a result at a given time.
Said another way:
- You've got things to do
- and people and/or money to do them
- which will give you a specific result
- with an expected time-frame.
Projecting your Works an Example:
Let's see if we can find a fairly large undertaking in music and see if it fits the bill; let's try the record on which I am currently working.
Project: A new release
- Things to do: Writing, arranging, recording, synthesis and programming, mixing, and mastering
- people and or money to do them: Members of my group, other auxilliary musicians, a mixing house, a mastering house and me, as well as my bleeding coffers.
- a specific result: A completed mastered recording ready for promotion and release
- with an expected time-frame: early next year (yay! be on the look out.)
That clearly fits the definition. Looks like that new record is actually a project.
Having a Project is A Good Thing:
The exchange for sullying the preciousness of creativity by treating it as work and by conceiving of the creative products of your life, this year, this month or this week as a project is that doing so provides access to techniques and tools that can help you succeed. These techniques have helped humankind put a person on the moon, reduce computational technology that occupied the space of a room to a device you can carry in your hand, and provide the infrastructure necessary to allow you to travel across the country, the continent and the world. Further, countless hours have been put into refining these techniques, and millions or probably billions of dollars are won because of improvements and continued practice. These techniques can literally move mountains--well, explode them anyway--they can certainly help get a record completed.
These techniques have different names. You can refer to them generally as project management. In future posts I'll look at specific styles of project management (Scrum and Kanban) that a solo artist or band can use to focus their work and get things done.
First Step: Identify and Collect Your Projects
The first step on this journey is to identify your projects, using the 4 step pattern above. Here is an example list of a few creative works that are definitely projects to help you identify what projects you might have:
* A new live show
* A new single
* Creating a blog
* Tuning your social media presence
* Launching a website
* Producing a painting
* Writing a short story
* Finding a new member for your band
Finally, returning to the conversation I began in the The "Professional" - the business of art, there is additional power in considering your creative work as a series of projects. These are tools that the industrial war machine and maw of greed use to produce their weapons, their temptations, and their distractions. I find a justice in reclaiming these methods--refined through countless iteration and driven by millions of investor dollars--to help the artist realize their craft and bring their vision and the societal force of art to bear. There is something to be said in distancing yourself from the arms of your enemy, but we must seize every advantage; the cards are proverbially stacked. It is a tool to help us be more effective. Let's use it.