Every parent, upon hearing that a son or daughter wants to become a filmmaker, writer, musician, dancer, or other artist, feels compelled to encourage them to have a “Plan B.” “Take a business minor.” “Get your real estate license.” “Marry a doctor.” We’ve heard it so often it’s become a joke for creative people. But the truth is, when you look at the careers of most creative artists, it’s surprising how often their success came down to taking Plan B.
While most successful creatives didn’t end up as real estate agents, or selling insurance, in an amazing number of cases, their creative life didn’t turn out anything like they planned.
For instance, Shakespeare started his career as an actor and only later started writing plays. Leonardo Da Vinci began as a weapons designer. The Rolling Stones were an R&B cover band for years until Mick Jagger and Keith Richards decided to take a stab at writing their own music. (And they largely made that decision watching the success of The Beatles.) The list goes on and on – and oddly enough, the change happened because of an outside incident that changed their thinking.
In my own case, I’m not doing anything close to what I thought I would be doing at this point in my career. It’s not necessarily better or worse, it’s just a different direction.
The lesson? If you’ve chosen a creative career, never dismiss the possibility of Plan B – or Plan C for that matter. The very nature of creativity is to encounter challenges in new and surprising ways. So forget it if you think you’re career is locked into a single outcome.
Sometimes chasing a creative dream means changing course.
Like a salmon swimming against the current, the most important thing for a creative person to remember is to keep moving. Make stuff. Design stuff. Create stuff. Never stop.
Even if that means switching gears, and following Plan B.
Any Plan B experiences you’d like to share with the community?