People often tell me they aren’t creative, as if creativity is some lofty practice. If you are a problem solver, you’re already highly creative. Every time you come up with a new idea or solutions to a problem, the creative process is activated.
To create a new piece of music, musicians immerse themselves in work that inspires them. An artist may look at other artist’s work, a scientist will look at the background research, an entrepreneur will look at the previous market research.
As an artist, I immerse myself in colour, taking pictures of the cobalt blue skies, clouds, the ever-changing greens of the river; absorbing myself into the different tones of colour I will use. I set the blank canvas on the easel weeks before I begin, confident that it’s already there just waiting to be painted.
When I write, I immerse myself in the period of time and place I’m writing about, searching out pictures and books that relate to these. I write dot points about what I learn. At this dumping stage, I stay completely away from evaluation.
The next stage is the percolating of the idea for the painting or book. As the ideas start to churn in my sub-conscious mind, they arrive mostly when doing unrelated things such as walking, showering, or driving. The sub-conscious bubbles away and throws up a broader set of ideas. In this stage, I’ve been known to turn a painting upside down to work on it.
The next stage is reflection, not to be mistaken for self-criticism. If the inner critic comes in too soon, it has the potential to sabotage great ideas. Successful creatives cultivate the confidence to champion their work. I’m working with a writer who, every time she arrives at my studio says, ‘Is my work any good?’ ‘Should I be doing this?’ That’s not helpful thinking at any stage. Fear and doubt will turn up, let them in, they can have a seat but they don’t have a voice.
Now it’s time actually do the work. Late nights in the studio, working at your desk, days testing products or ideas. At this stage, it’s important to turn up every day and work. This is where your creative juices come together.
Immersing yourself in these creative stages will give you a map to help you move forward. By understanding your creative process more clearly, you will develop a clear, creative method of activating it.
I read other peoples’ work to understand myself. I write to know myself.