Saturday, May 1, 2010

More About the Creative Process

"Unlock" (series, 2 0f 6)
I was thinking about what I wrote about the creative process last night. I wanted to talk about the pitfalls on the path of the creative process. Here's were you can fall into and get stuck:
  • Never getting beyond the inspiration (bolt from the blue) stage.
    I tend to be a dreamer as opposed to a doer, so I really understand this one. Daydreaming and brainstorming are very pleasurable but there are next steps that must not be ignored. There is more "real" pleasure in bringing you ideas to life rather than just dreaming about them.
  • Stopping when the hard work starts.I've heard creatives call this part of the process "the shitty part". That's a good way to say it, in some ways, because it acknowledges there is a "shitty part" that is part of an often rather pleasant voyage. You may feel lost at sea but don't give up. You may need to truly experience the storm, or sea creatures, or just look up through our atmosphere and into the mystery of space, or chart an entirely different course. But know this: breakthrough follows breakdown when we are talking about the creative journey. It's not really that hard but you have to keep working. As an exercise keep on working on a drawing, painting, whatever until you have passed through the ugly duckling stage. Takes time.
  • Not realizing that it takes some pushing and persistence to birth your project.This is related to the bullet above. The creative process takes not only skipping through the daisies but also a bit of sweat and blood. If it takes work it does NOT mean that you are somehow doing it wrong. It is not all easy but it all turns out to be worth it.
  • Asking for feedback from those who do not mean you well.Hate to tell you but there are those just waiting to stomp on your creative effort. Beware of those who offer devastating "advice".
  • Asking for feedback from those who are blocked creatives or who fear the creative process.
    There are those who are themselves blocked creatives who fear the unknown or have been taught that the creative process is a waste of time, waste of materials, just for children or the soft of head or heart.
  • Asking for feedback from those who think artists are weird, incomprehensible, insane, (fill in the blank).
    People are really different from each other in many ways. Some people live exclusively in their logical, rational minds and can not comprehend why anyone would even want to go to the "right side" of their brains. Just see what happens when you ask a logical/rational predominate person to make a mind map instead of an outline (this is the college teacher part of myself talking). Humorous, expect insults. Sometimes is not that they don't want to "be creative". It's just really, really foreign to them.
  • Giving up because you mistake the "happy accidents" for insurmountable problems.My favorite parts of the creative process are the moments when something does not turn out the way you expected and you have to come up with a new idea to go on. When you say--"Oh, this is a door--wonder what's behind it" rather than "Oh, I messed up, there's a brick wall, better stop" you will discover what the creative process is really all about.
  • Perfectionism/Over controlBottom line, need to give it up to the Great Creative. You could call it your muse, your creative impulse, your guardian angel or anything you like, but, I'm telling you, there is a force greater than yourself that gets expressed when you let go to the creative process. You don't control everything, you know (smile).
  • Fear of Cracking EggsTell that maternal voice that is telling you to not make a mess to just go iron some sheets or something. Ever heard the saying "You can't make an omelet without cracking some eggs"? Get cracking. Remember when you inner child wanted to play in the mud and let the child play. We've got plenty of soap, water and clean clothes for later.
  • Post-project depressionThis common reality has ruined many a famous (and unknown) artist. At the end of each creative project there is often a let down. It's like a hormone drop after giving birth. It can be a powerful biological reality. What to do: overlap projects so the new project high overlaps the finished project let down. Prepare for the letdown by planning for future projects, taking a holiday or adding a positive new routine (walking, exercise, going to a new place to journal and sketch or write). Meditate. Get plenty of sleep.
    What not to do: drink to excess or drug or other self medication or self or other attack strategies.
  • Fear of completion/the end/being finished/looking at the "results"This can be related to stopping when the going gets tougher than you expected. But there are some who fear the journey's end. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Not wanting the fun to end? You know (or are beginning to know) where you fall on this continuum. Journal about it. Come to terms with the fact that everything that exists in time has a beginning, middle and end. But there is no shortage of creative ideas available to you. You literally can't use them all up. There is always a new journey to be begun. Love what you create, or hate it or use it as fertilizer to grow your next project. Not every one of your brain children is going to win a beauty contest--but guaranteed that each of your completed projects will have a unique and compelling quality or two.
    So go an MAKE something!


  1. Wonderful information. I'll use it. I fel acknowledged. thank you. linda williams

  2. Linda, I am so glad that this resonated with you!