Understanding The Creative Process: A Three-Stage Cycle
Man, if I clocked the amount of hours I've spent researching how the creative process from every possible angle – psychological, mental, spiritual – I would probably be qualified for some kind of Master's degree.
Lucky for you, I'm about to present my findings right here, so that you can take advantage of them and get creating really fast. I'm all about efficiency.
Now, some cold hard truth:
A lot of art is dying inside you.
If you're reading this article, I bet you or someone you know can relate to the gut-punch that sentence can throw. I've seen and spoken to so many individuals who struggle and ultimately fail to bring their dreams to life (NB: I don't subscribe to failure as a concept, but many people do, so it's here for relative accuracy about what I'm describing). So many big, beautiful dreams! So much creative joy unshared! Joy shared is joy doubled, folks. Remember that? Sorrow shared, halved? I digress.
So many novels unread on hard drives. So many voice notes never mixed and mastered. So many restaurants and salons and collective houses never opening their doors.
It's so sad.
And why? For what reason?
All these dreams are completely achievable. None of them are bigger than you.
You don't need to do anything more, know anything more, or be any better or different (or more beautiful), than exactly the way you currently are in order to create something really special, unique, powerful, and meaningful.
You just have to know how to surrender to the creative process that is happening within you, and to master that flowing current of creative energy in a way that aligns with your unique soul, purpose, and personality.
The creative process is not a convoluted, multi-step system that you need a degree to crack and master. It's a very simple, universal cycle consisting of three stages:
Resistance, Surrender, and Release.
They flow into each other so seamlessly that the cycle is really more like a spiral, at the centre of which is your creative heart.
Before I go on, I'm going to recommend two books that provided foundational insight for my daily creative practice, understanding the purpose for my work, and reclaiming the title of "artist": The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope, and The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.
Both these authors speak right to the essential quality of being creative, and what that looks like no matter what your "art" is – because by no means is any of this limited to fine art and music: creativity touches every aspect of human interaction, collaboration and communication.
Why should you care?
Because the creation inside you is trying desperately to be born for a moment in this impermanent world, and you're the one responsible for whether it lives or dies.
If that's not a call-to-action, I don't know what is.
Without fail, the resistance stage is going to always bring up the most challenge for creatives, including myself.
Googling articles on writer's block, writing post drafts and then deleting them, and slipping into procrastinatory habits are super common symptoms of being "stuck" in the resistance stage. These experiences are a dime a dozen for creatives, including myself. It can feel like 90% of creating is resisting creating.
I KNOW. I GET IT.
These are the insights I can offer to help you break through:
In a nutshell, resistance comes from holding onto false beliefs about your creative power and worth as an artist and a human being. Now, you can spend your time analyzing your individual fears and beliefs if you want, or you can cut through thousands of "causes of writer's block" and realize it doesn't really matter where your resistance to creating comes from. All you have to do is accept that resistance is as essential to making art as labour pain is to birthing a child. Yes, you will feel like you're not good enough, don't have enough money, will never be recognized, or will have to deal with being recognized, for whatever you bring forth into the world.
And feeling blocked is a built-in part of the creative experience you signed on for, when you decided to pop out of your mom and do the human thing.
So let's make that decision work for you, so you can spend your time on this crazy planet feeling at least a little bit more joy and fulfillment – if not a realization of your wildest dreams, which is really what we're going for.
Remember, no dream is bigger than you are creatively powerful.
In the last year of study, I gained some intense clarity about the concepts that have proven universal to my understanding of the creative process:
1. Creativity is energy; more specifically, a current of energy, which can be tapped into and directed through conscious application of will.
2. We, as human beings, are inherently vessels for this creative energy, which is the same energy infusing all other life forms.
3. The Source of creative energy actually resides inside you; It is infinitely abundant, and can be accessed anytime.
I'll leave you with that to digest. There's so much to share, and I'm excited to go into more secrets and practical tips for mastering the creative process. In the next post, I'll dive into resistance and how to allow, acknowledge, and align with your patterns of being "stuck" and "blocked" so you can stop freaking out and start making some badass, beautiful stuff.
Do you find studying the creative process as fascinating as I do? Have you been stuck in the resistance stage? Leave your questions and comments below.
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