Building an Artistic A.R.M.E.
Updated: Feb 4
(ARME = Attitude. Routine. Motivation. Escape Plan)
A good creative process is as individual as artists themselves. Creative process is conjuring the invisible world of your dreams into the way you manifest it in doable actions and concrete events. Creativity is a little like alchemy - Equal parts fact and fiction, pragmatism and mysticism.
The four parts of an equally balanced artistic life are: Attitude, Routine, Motivation and Emergency Plan. These are the emotional, intellectual and physical alchemies of your creative process. "We create the process, the process creates the work" Great work is the outcome of a healthy process.
Creating a process that works takes time. Your process will always be changing and never 'finished', it's in constant flux. The only definitive test in a process is whether or not it works for you.
Nuggets of emotional and intellectual wisdom. Creativity springs from a source deeper than our moods. Your ideal creative attitude neither glorifies nor negates your feelings but it does allow you to act on difficult tasks, attack challenges, and dream schemes with minimum frustration and maximum delight. Some of your ideal attitudes might mean respect for your particular form of madness, a sense of urgency, giddiness, darkness or melancholia. They may also reflect quirky bits of self-knowledge or superstitions. Ideal attitudes are varied and complicated, what remains essential is that you know yourself and live by your own beliefs not anyone else's.
Daily routines and weekly activities represent the optimal way of using your time and appreciating your life. Your routine includes when you choose to work a day job, when you do your art, and when you play. A good creative schedule takes advantage of your most creative hours of the day and diminishes the negative voices that interrupt your thoughts. (Daily practice, rehearsals, sleep schedule, eating schedule, creative time, exercise routine, weekly activities)
Motivations spring from many arenas: intimate relationships, a desire for fame, money, or respect; a sense of historical purpose; a sense of community or individuality; a reverence for God or some other deeply held belief.
If you have a thorough understanding of the things that motivate you, you put yourself in their service to challenge yourself and your art to new heights.
If you are more likely to work hard for someone else or some greater cause, figure out how to make your work a direct gift to a person or community. If you are motivated by privacy and mystery, avoid showing your work before it is finished; lock your writing in a box; practice your art alone. This clear sense of true motivation may be the key you need to unlock a sense of intensity and courage surrounding your work. If working in collaboration with others inspires you, then build a collaborative structure like a support group or class into your daily life, even if your art is an essentially private endeavor.
When crisis hits, and your perfect routine and healthy attitude disintegrate you need a healthy Escape Plan to refocus and get back on track. What releases stress and refocuses your spirit of play? Is there a certain person you can call or a place you can escape to? Is there a treat you can give yourself like a matinee or a favorite food? Whatever the case, the Escape Plan is important because chaos happens, and when it does, we need to know there are things we can do to soften the blow. The Escape Plan also reminds you not to be too rigid or perfectionistic. Things change. Life happens and every now and then we need permission to escape the routine, attitude and motivation knowing that it's only temporary and we will eventually find out way back.
ORGANIZE YOUR A.R.M.E.
Define and get specific about your Attitude, Routine, Motivation and Emergency plan. What do they mean to you? How can you apply new ideas to each section? What has worked before? What will work in the future?