Want versus need.
As creatives, one of the most challenging things about our work is that we don’t always start out with a clear vision of what it is we’re trying to do. Often what we are creating has never been seen/done before and so we have no roadmap to follow. Instead, we allow ourselves to be guided by our desire or compulsion to create and let the process inform the shape our work needs to take.
This is one of the reasons that it can be so difficult to budget as a creative. As much as we can account for our life expenses, creative expenses can be difficult to pin down. And there’s nothing quite as disheartening as feeling the expansiveness of creative inspiration followed by feeling deflated when you check your bank account and see that there’s no money to support your new idea.
Of course, financial limits don’t mean you have to abandon the work that matters to you. All it means is that you might need to trim off everything that is not essential. Which can be challenging; in those periods of inspiration, everything feels necessary. If, however, holding onto all of it means that none of it gets to be made, then perhaps it is more beneficial to get real about what is possible right now.
Instead of focusing on what you do want—everything—take some time to get clear on what you don’t need. Map out the negative space around the work you want to create. Make a list or free write as a way to name everything that isn’t necessary in order for your idea to stay true to its core form. Keep eliminating until all that’s left is what matters. Then, as best you can, figure out what financial support your idea requires.
Of course, you can always add things back in. If you trim your idea down to the bone and discover that you have extra time or money left over to give it, then add that back into your equation. Or, you may wish to keep your idea and budget for it as is. Because there will be no chance of you complicating the process of making the work that matters to you by thinking you need more than you do to create it.
The point of this exercise is not to make you compromise your creative vision with the belief that you’re lacking the resources you need in order to bring your idea to life. It’s to help you get clear on what’s just enough. It’s to give you an anecdote to the muchness of the world around you so that you can find the simplest way to hold the complexity of your work. It’s to support you in getting started now instead of later or never.
How does what you don’t need clarify what you do need?