Are You a Planner?

 In Guest Blogs

Ann Grasso Pattern Art introduces guest blogger, Lisa Call.

I have never met Lisa, except online and on the phone. One beauty of the internet is that we can align ourselves with people we never meet. Please consider following her and perhaps taking some of her classes. And now, the page is hers.


I’m a planner. My creativity thrives with structure.flower-lisacall-2016

I plan my schedule.

Monday mornings I make a full plan for the entire week. For each day I set aside a chunk of time for creative work.

With this plan I eliminate much of the stress involved in getting to the studio. I’ve looked at my week ahead of time and I know that my creative time fits into my schedule.

Structure promotes creativity without stress. I’m not thinking that I should be doing something else as all the other to-do items have their own compartment in my weekly schedule. Guilt free creative time.

I plan which projects I will work on.

When I know ahead of time which piece of artwork I’m working before I enter my studio, I can anticipate the next steps and rehearse them in my head before I reach the studio. I often work out problems and come up with new ideas for the project as I’m leading up the planned studio time.

It’s like free design time.

I plan the content of my artwork.

I work in well-defined series.

Each of my series represents a set of plans that provide a structure for the work to be created.

From that structure I can then experiment and push the edges of what the series means without getting distracted by the thousands of other really good ideas that I have. The planning and structure keep me focused on the current really great idea. And that focus leads to tremendous growth and creativity within the confines of my parameters.

Jon Stewart formerly of the Daily Show has this to say about structure and creativity (interview Jon Stewart: The Most Trusted Name In Fake News):

“…you’d be incredibly surprised at how regimented our day is, and just how the infrastructure of the show is very much mechanized.”

“..we have a very, kind of strict day that we have to adhere to. And by doing that, that allows us to process everything, and gives us the freedom to sort of improvise.”

“I’m a real believer in that creativity comes from limits, not freedom. Freedom, I think you don’t know what to do with yourself. But when you have a structure, then you can improvise off it and feel confident enough to kind of come back to that.”

My thoughts exactly.

Try this.

Compare the results of completing these tasks:

  1. Do something creative
  2. For 20 minutes starting at 2pm make a drawing with circles on white paper with black ink.

How long did it take you to start task 1? How long did it take you to start task 2? Which did you prefer? What was it you preferred?

What is your relationship with planning/structure and creativity?


Learn more about Lisa on the web:

Lisa Call Fine Art

Make Big Art


And on Facebook:

Lisa Call Fine Art

Make Big Art

Showing 10 comments
  • Terri Young, CZT 16

    My husband is the planner and maker of lists! I’m more fly by the seat of my pants type girl. I don’t plan a week ahead! I know there are things to be done in the coming week and I allow them to interrupt my studio time…LOL. If I do need to shop or do housework, I plan on doing it all before noon. That gives me around 4-5 hours studio time in the afternoon or until the hubby gets home around 6. As for my projects, I have several going on at one time and ponder the next steps on each as they come to me. You can’t rush a masterpiece!

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      Ann Grasso

      You are fortunate to have a social secretary help with planning, smile.

  • Pegi

    I plan only for things that are important, like appointments. The rest I improvise and love it, but then… I’ve always marched to the beat of a different drummer.

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      Ann Grasso

      Yes, different drummers: applause. This said, if there is a need or preference to juggle a number of balls, planning helps to reduce stress. Would you agree?

  • Robin Price

    Thank you, Lisa. I, too, am a big fan of structure and limits in the creative process, particularly when embracing the results of chance operations, in the manner so richly innovated by John Cage.
    (Recommended reading, Kathan Brown’s book about Cage’s use of chance at Crown Point Press:
    I especially appreciate your link to the Jon Stewart interview; with excerpts from there I might be a bit more convincing to my college students about the helpfulness of working within limits in the creative process! There’s generally some resistance in the late teens/early 20s age group; adults I’ve taught tend to thoroughly enjoy those limits! (I think the disparity in eagerness tends to correlate with how many decades one has had of life-decision-making.)

    (and now that I see we are supposed to list our website, I’ll point toward two artists’ books there with strong use of chance: 43, According to Robin Price, and the earlier Slurring at bottom: a printer’s book of errors)

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      Ann Grasso

      Robin, thanks for hopping onto this train with thought provoking tags to chance. Lisa may want to comment on this as well because I know she values awareness of chance as much as she values planning. I intend to wander over to your site to see the books you have made.

  • Susy Baquerizo

    i wish i were a planner. my head is in constant turmoil. Maybe if i would structure my day i’ll be making more art

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      Ann Grasso

      It might be worth a try???

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