Why being creative is a process and How you can get there too.
We live in a society that has pigeon-holed each person in to either a ‘creative’ or a ‘analytical-logical’ person, and it appears that almost all of us have bought in to this belief. The truth is that although the separation between the two ’types’ might not be as clear as it is made out to be, most people have either claimed themselves to be either-or a ‘creative’ or an ‘analytical’.
So…if you fall in to the later camp – you might ask ‘How do artists paint or writers write? How do sculptors find the inspiration to turn a block of stone or a piece of wood in to something so incredibly original?’ For the ones of us who believe that we are ‘less than’ in the creative sphere, it is often with amazement and wonder that we watch the creation or the creative process being described, especially when all that we see is the final product and the final result.
The 6 Step Process of Creativity
Little known, or perhaps more often overlooked is that there actually is a process to creativity. One that can easily be replicated to release the creative in you.
1. We begin… by Copying
We all often like to romanticise the notion of being creative. We like to imagine that artists are born with paint brushes in their hands and musicians played master pieces as toddlers. While there are some out there who are amazingly gifted, a vast majority of ‘masters’ get there by honing their art, day by day, hour after hour, minute by minute. And…they all began somewhere.
Almost all of them started out by copying someone else.
It may surprise you to learn that even the amazing Jane Austen, was not above copying. In her earliest sketches and notebooks (Volume The First), stories were written based on familiar plots and twists, sure she did all this when she was a young girl, but it was through this practise of practice, that she honed her craft and skill. (Amazingly, you can read the original here)
The same can be said of almost any artist. Hours spent studying a mentors style and technique, attempts to copy and replicate a certain style and a certain technique. All this forms the basis of eventually, finding their own style. Akin to writers, finding their own voice. All writers are voracious readers, they don’t just read though, they read in to the nuances and the style of a particular author, the use of phrasing and character building.
And so, if you’re stuck for ideas, for inspiration – take a leaf out of any Masters book and start out first by replicating and copying, trying out.
2. Begin with Zero Expectations
Every one has to start somewhere, and regardless of where they start, it is really how many steps they take forward that counts more than where it all began.
Everybody started out as a beginner, and the reality is that we often see and hear about them when they have arrived at the peak of their game – and it may seem as if success was an overnight given. The reality though is that each and every one of them honed their craft, slowly polishing and perfecting techniques and ideas.
So the challenge in starting out and comparing yourself to the ‘Already Successful’ is that we build in our own mind a level of expectation in which we expect ourselves to perform, to achieve at a level that is similar to the one we aspire to. The reality though is that we so often do not see the hours, days and years of practise that has gone in to honing a craft.
So begin, anywhere you feel comfortable. Take a deep breath and let go of the expectations. Ignore the desire for achievement and perfection. Let go and simply flow.
3. Inspiration from your surroundings
The environment that surrounds us plays a role far larger than simply allowing us a space to exist. In our hurried, tunnel-visioned life, we close our eyes to the many wonders that surround us and yet when we take the time to look, to really observe and see without presumptions and judgement we see beyond the immediacy of our own lives.
A coin shared in the coffee cup of a homeless man; the giggling laughter of a baby; the quiet, unassuming presence of trees and plants; the smooth flow of traffic; the colours of the flurry of clothes in rush hour.
Taking even two minutes to simply step out of your own ‘zone’, will allow you to become more aware that you are not just a part of this exciting, busy, bustling world, but also an integral part and parcel of the contribution to everything that is going on around you. Embrace the fact that everything exists in collaboration, in cohesion and in symphony with everything else.
Feel the inspiration and the energy that surrounds you and use it.
Use it to express your thoughts, your emotions, your secrets and your desires.
4. Create for whom – only You
Getting caught up in creating and then questioning who it is we create for is the ultimate chicken and egg question. When we begin doing what we do by defining it in terms of what others may want instead of what we desire it to be, we begin a path down the slippery slope of losing sight of who we are and who we desire to be and become.
The joy in creating, always starts with the desire to birth something that is inherently within us.
A writer writes not because the reader has decided that he would like to read a book. A writer writes because within her, there is a story to tell and the desire to tell that story is far greater than the ability to keep that story hidden within.
The artists paints or sculpts not for the viewer to selectively decide if his works are worthy of an audience. The artist creates because his dreams are filled with the never-ending images of his creations, where the calling of them to him are so great that the instant his brush touches the canvas, the painting paints itself; and the marble falls away like clay under his chisel.
Wherever you deem to be your starting point, whether sketching a cartoon or painting a still life, describing the gorgeous sunrise or writing the poem of the whispering trees. Know that anything and everything you create is first and foremost to fulfil your very own desire, to fulfil only You.
5. Letting go – opening up
Letting go, letting go of the fear, letting go of the expectation, letting go of the desire to please, letting go of the need to do what is right, truly letting go is the first step in embracing the true you. The creative process can only begin when we start to let go – of preconceptions, of notions of others and notions of self, let go of perceived outcomes and possible pathways.
So as you sit, in front of a blank canvas or hands poised over a keyboard to write that story of your dreams, letting go of what is, and embracing every moment as it unfolds – takes you to exactly where you need to be.
When we are used to living a scheduled, organised life, it takes effort, focus and belief to relax and let go in order to ride the stream of creativity that inherently comes from a deeper calling within. Yet once we begin, once we begin, that first brush stroke, that first word, when we begin, the flow releases from behind the dam.
Inherent to our nature of being cautious and careful, with the desire to plan for every eventuality, to seek out a plan, we start to believe that we need to build the whole staircase to know that it will take us to the next floor. The reality is we only need to take the first step in order to start moving up.
There is boldness in beginning where you are, let go of the thoughts, the what if’s, the maybe’s and begin right where you are.
6. Share, when you dare, only you should care
And when you’re ready, release your gifts to the world.
The world may never know the precise colours of the sunset such as those painted with the colours on your palette, the world may never hear the words to the poem dedicated to the falling leaves of Autumn, the world may never know the wonders you have in store, the gifts you have buried deep within brought out by no longer being able to contain it within.
Just remember, you’re not going to please everyone, and neither should you ever aim to. As long as the process of creating brings you joy – that’s more than value of the time you have put in.
The process of creativity is far more than just a dream. It may start off as a process but ends up an unstoppable desire to create, to seek, to give voice to the buried imaginings of our childhood.
Find your creativity and in the process find yourself.