Organizing & Planning for Action

Advice Requested, Pen & Ink, Subject of Thought, Taking Charge, Today's Focus

I’ve had many failed attempts at keeping journals, but the journals with the longest successes have been fill-in types. To maximize my success here, my blog posts are going to be laid out like a fill-in journal with prompts. I’ll type in a statement of the week and day’s focus, followed by a list of current tasks, and a quick progress report. After I get the important facts laid out, I’ll go into a subject of thought. I will not guarantee relevance.

This layout reminds me of Bridget Jones’ diary… Except there will be no accounting of my weight, alcohol units consumed, or fags smoked. Definitely no romance. And less self-hating. I hope. But the important stats will be logged. So in that way, similar.

Here’s the first:


This Week’s Focus: Finalize website, restart blog and work on art

Today’s Focus: Write a blog post that explains what I am doing here


  1. Decide what I am doing here
  2. Decide how to organize these blog posts
  3. Write this blog post
  4. Upload something new to Instagram
  5. Work on a drawing of a vintage phone

Progress: 3 of 5 tasks complete.

Subject of Thought: Organizing & Planning for Action

I needed a tool for organizing goals and tasks in this endeavour. Something more robust than scribbled to-do lists on Steno pads. I searched the internet high and low for goal organizing apps, calendar apps, and planner apps. I even downloaded no less than 3 and spent a good 20 minutes each filling in all my plans, only to find them unusable and/or unfree. Then, I came across Passion Planner and realized all I really need is a good old-fashioned, very well-designed, physical weekly planner. Free downloads = radical.

After spending several hours with my new planner, I began looking at a book I checked out from the library: The Artist’s Guide: How to make a living doing what you love by Jackie Battenfield. It devotes a whole chapter to identifying goals and task planning. I’m quite pleased that I JUST did this. Pretty much exactly as she details it in her book. Sweet validation!


+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

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A note of clarification.

Taking Charge, Vision


I should be clear. Getting to this point where I feel comfortable even admitting to myself that I am an artist and what I want is to do is make a living with art, took 33 years. Well, I suppose it was there long ago, but gradually got squashed. In fact it was just the other day that I finally said the words, “I want to be an illustrator,” to myself when considering what kind of work I should look for in the next year. It had been a foggy, amorphous idea floating around for so long. I didn’t want to utter it aloud for fear of the disappointment of it’s sure impossibility.  In Jackie Battenfield’s, The Artist’s Guide, How to make a living doing what you love, I read a quote from Morgan O’Hara:

Listen to what you are telling yourself. Accept who you are.

There are so many reasons to ignore ourselves and reject who we are. But it’s painful, a little bit, every day. We get attached to ideas of how much money we need to make, how we don’t have the right experience, how our personality should be, how much easier it could be if we just felt differently. We can decide to find happiness in our circumstances and choices, through acceptance. And we can also accept that we are happiest under certain conditions- then make choices to put ourselves there more often. Acceptance doesn’t mean happily sitting on a busy sidewalk watching everyone else go about their business. I’m aiming for active acceptance.

What am I talking about? I’m probably going to quit this too.

No, I’m not.


Art, Taking Charge, Vision


It’s real simple. Set goals, decide on tasks, do tasks, achieve goals.

I recently bought Lisa Congdon’s book, Art Inc. and read it cover to cover. I’ll say it was inspiring and informative and the reason I am writing this now. I read this in her book, and many other places too: You want to succeed? You must commit. Set goals, decide on tasks, carry them out, whittle big, scary goals down to do-able pieces of work. It’s logical and not particularly innovative, but making a plan can be a significant hurdle. Trying is hard and the fear of failure is paralyzing. If you don’t plan, you avoid taking the first step into the unknown. So, here goes the left foot…

Vision: Create a viable art career for myself.

Specific short-term goals:

  1. Create a website by end of January (done!)
  2. Enter local craft show by March
  3. Get showing of my art in local public place by April
  4. Make $250 in Etsy sales per month in March – May
  5. Get 3 freelance illustration jobs by September

A goal made it onto the list if it was SMART.

  • Specific – Identify the who, what, when, where, and why.
  • Measurable – Can you easily determine when it has been achieved?
  • Attainable- Is it possible?
  • Realistic – Can I do it, considering my other obligations?*
  • Timely – Set a due date.

I have so many tasks I won’t list them. Instead, I’ll address them as I go.

… right foot…


*At first, Attainable and Realistic seemed the same, but I think there’s an important distinction. Attainability addresses possibility. Many things are attainable: I could travel the world alone for the next 12 months. Realism factors in decisions you’ve already made: I am committed to being a decent, present parent to my two boys. Long term independent travel is not realistic for a mother of small kids.

New Year GOAL

Advice Requested, Ink & Watercolor
My favorite watercolor tubes, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, and a Van Gogh that is now all used up.

My favorite watercolor tubes, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, and a Van Gogh that is now all used up.

I think it all started last year when I decided to change my hair part.*  I went from right part to left part. This lead to examining all major components of my character because, obviously, if you can wear your part on the other side, the possibilities are endless. Then there were a few new Instagram followers (by strangers!), some Etsy sales, two illustration commissions. Nothing totally groundbreaking, but some encouragement. Then I applied for a job that I REALLY wanted and would have been great at. And did not even get an interview. Also, I must consider the ages of my kids, and the fact that I plan to buy a house soon, and money is sort of a necessity. The truth comes out: I need to get a job. Not today, but soon. It needs to pay well enough to cover child care, and I only have experience working in the construction industry. And I haven’t worked in 5 years. So, it’s not going to be easy.

New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure, so it is my GOAL that between now and the day I need to go back to a full time job in construction, I’m going to make the best attempt I can at making money from art.

I’m relaunching this blog into a more complete website, with an emphasis on my portfolio. I’m going to use the blog portion of the site to detail my plans, track my progress, and keep myself accountable. It may be super boring. It may be wordy. But I’m going to keep it organized and there will be a drawing on every post. Because I NEVER look at blog posts without pictures. I usually never read the words at all, so if the rest of y’all are like me, I may be talking to a brick wall. But it should be fine. You’ll get a pretty picture, I’ll pour my soul out to the ether.

I usually don’t make these sort of proclamations because I know myself: I’m easily distracted and I have a short attention span. Unless I have a job to do. Then, I am committed and hardworking. This is it. Let no poor attitude stand in my way!

Stay tuned for more.


*Truly, it all started with Sketchbook Skool, which I have posted about a number of times. It was the single instigation behind my current daily habit of drawing and making art. Even if a career in art is never a reality for me, I owe them a debt of gratitude for showing me that taking time everyday to make something -for the sole reason of enjoying the process- is perfectly acceptable and, even more, will make for a better life.

Always read the asterisks. It’s where you find the truth.