Artists work in a kind of dance between what they see in their imagination and what they can create in the real world. It is by managing the tension between these two domains that they create works of art that are original and meaningful.
Creative practices develop your imagination and way of seeing the world and allow you to make new and surprising connection. The creative process channels your creativity in useful and meaningful directions.
Creative work doesn’t proceed in a linear way towards a preconceived goal. It emerges from chaos, where you first catch a fleeting glimpse and then work to draw it out and find a form to hold it.
The 10 Step Creative Process
1. Connect to your creative source
We are all creative beings. Creativity is our birthright, part of our essential nature. Deep inside us is a well of imagination just waiting to be tapped. Sometimes the well seems dry, or the rope that holds the bucket broken, or the bucket too small. But with regular creative practice it is possible to keep the well full and to draw from it at will. So pull out the paints, join the choir, start writing again, take up woodworking, audition for a play. Visit a gallery, attend a concert, browse in a little out of the way antique shop or hardware store. Go for a long walk. Experiment with a new cookbook. Go into the workshop and start making a better mousetrap.
2. Pay attention to your inner yearnings
Take some time to listen to your inner voice. Take notes, draw pictures, make a collage to capture the words, images and feelings that arise as you listen to your deepest self. What do you love, what do you value, what do you dream about? Your deepest desires are important and worthy of being acted upon.
2. Explore the world around you with curiosity
Pay attention to your surroundings. Engage the world around you with curiosity and a sense of wonder. See familiar people and places with new eyes. Venture into new places and conversations you might have avoided in the past. Be open to what you might discover. Prepare to be surprised, delighted, and moved.
3. Notice what attracts your attention
Notice what attracts your attention, makes you curious, makes you laugh, tugs at you, sticks in your mind and refuses to go away. Follow what attracts you to see where it might lead. Capture words, images, sounds, smells, tastes, ideas, and feelings in a small notebook reserved just for this purpose.
5. Play with the symbols and images that arise
Inquire more deeply into your yearnings and attractions. Notice images and symbols that recur or seem to have energy or pull for you. Take the time to play with them. Paint them. Post them. Make up stories or songs about them. Don’t just interpret them rationally. Play with the form and feel of them. Make up wild and possible and probable meanings.
6. Experiment with connections and combinations
Experiment with various connections and combinations between the events, images and symbols from your inner and outer life. Turn them upside down and sideways, shifting perspective. What sense are you starting to make out of things. What meaning are you starting to see? What truth are you starting to understand? What course of action is becoming clearer?
7. Notice the form that begins to emerge
Notice how the yearnings, attractions, symbols and images are starting to seek expression in your life. What new creative ideas are sprouting, what new creative projects are starting to formulate? Pay attention to the form that your creativity wants to take at this time. Doodle or mind map around the form as it starts to emerge.
8. Begin to intentionally craft the form
Your new creation will begin to take on a form of its own. Its shape will become clear, the work it will take to bring it to completion more evident. Commit to the form and to the process of making it real. Make plans. Take action.
9. Work with the tension between vision and reality
As you begin the work of crafting, a creative tension exists between the form you can imagine and the form that you can create. This can lead to frustration and discouragement. Or you can choose to draw energy from the tension and strengthen your commitment to the process. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks. Pay attention to your results. Learn from failure.
10. Bring image and form together and celebrate completion
Gradually you will bridge the gap between the work that exists in your imagination and the one you are creating in the material world. You will create something real, a piece of original work. It can be tempting to judge the work wanting, and focus on the ways that if falls short of what you originally imagined. Focus instead on the satisfaction of having finished what you started, given form to what otherwise would not exist. You have contributed something of yourself to the world. Celebrate completion.
see also: How to Be Consistently Creative