My rating: 5 of 5 stars
SECTION I THE BASICS
Chapter 1 Working with Your Inner Artist...
Chapter 2 Project Defined
Chapter 2A Four-stage Project View and the Artist
Chapter 3 Goal Basics
Chapter 4 Finding Your Big Goal
Chapter 4A Exploring for Your Big Goal
Chapter 4B Achieving Your Goal
Chapter 5 What About All Those Other GoalS
SECTION II TAKING IT UP A NOTCH
Chapter 6 Time Management Part I
Chapter 7 Working with Your Inner Artist Part II
SECTION III MAKING IT PRACTICAL
Chapter 8 Time Management Part II
Chapter 9 Risk Management
Chapter 10 The Action Plan
Chapter 11 Working with Your Inner Artist Part III
SECTION IV TAKING IT HOME AND OWNING IT
Chapter 12 Core Principles: why you do what you do
Chapter 13 Project Block
Chapter 14 Working with Your Inner Artist: a few final words
Matt and Melitte Buchman are siblings, both in artistic professions. Matt is a bestselling romance writer and Melitte is a successful photographer. Matt also spent many years working as a professional project manager before he moved into writing full time. This book is about managing the business end of a career in the arts, how to balance art and business, and how your business persona can communicate with your artist persona without bringing the creative process to a screeching halt.
One of the things I like about this book is that it gives two points of view. Usually the writers agree about a given point, more or less, but not always completely, emphasizing that there's no one right way to do things. And the writers warn the reader right up front that not every tool works for every artist. That goes for organizational and management tools too, and a reader who feels iffy about any of their suggestions should absolutely skip it. I find this refreshing; too many how-to writers try to claim that their way is not only the best way, it's the only way that works, and doing things any other way is a horrendous mistake that will cause you to become a huge, sad failure so you'd better do things their way. To which I eyeroll and move on. The Buchmans have a very realistic view of how the world works, and I appreciate that.
Another thing I like about it is the approach it takes of getting into completely different mindsets for writing (or whatever art you do) and managing/organizing. It really is like being two different people. You have to be practical and organized to handle the business end of writing, but your creative brain (or mine, anyway) isn't terribly practical and doesn't take very kindly to being organized. As a writer, the idea of putting on different personas, and thinking the way a particular character would think, actually feels pretty natural, so the approach this book takes resonates with me.
The Buchmans talk about separating these two personas, letting the inner artist be creative and play, and letting the manager organize time and space for the artist to play in, and make sure the artist has what they need to have fun with. They say:
The big key here is keep your business-person practical-self out of your playspace. The playspace is the giant room filled with just the neatest stuff on the planet. The workspace is a nasty, dark, evil quagmire that your artist-self wants nothing to do with under any circumstances.
Yeah, that sounds about right. :)
Chapter 2A talks about the four stages of a project, and what problems you might have if you're particularly strong or weak in any of the stages. We don't usually think of being strong in something as a problem, but it certainly can be, and one strength-problem resonated with me. Talking about the "Start/Initiate" stage, the authors say:
If you're too strong here:
..You have a HUGE file of ideas, none of which are done.
Umm, yeah, that's me. I have a huge file of ideas, plus I have more story starts than I want to admit to sitting on my hard drive. I'm fabulously skilled at starting stories. I could come up with story ideas all day. I could totally do that challenge that some SF writer whose name I forget now did once, starting a new story every day for a year? Yeah, I could do that, no problem. And at the end of the year I'd have another 365 story files on my hard drive, but would've finished only a few of them.
The time management chapters have a lot of useful advice, from how to carve time out of your schedule, to analyzing how you work best as an artist so you can arrange your schedule to suit your inner artist, rather than trying to jam your inner artist into the cracks of your schedule. (Turns out I'm a sprint artist. "Typically deadline-driven adrenaline junkies, they do everything except their art until, in a flash and burst and flurry of excitement, they "climb Everest" at a dead run, and then grind right back to a halt." Yeah, that. Hey, it works....)
There's a lot of good stuff here. This is a short book, but densely packed with info, advice and examples. I'd recommend it for anyone working in an artistic profession, or an amateur artist trying to make some progress even if it's not their main occupation.