So, What’s Your Creative Process?

What gems of ideas do you have percolating in you? How do you find them and transform those legends into beautiful shiny things? Let’s jump in and fan that raging flame of creativity. 

I remember the first time I had a creative project idea. It was humble, and it was beautiful, and I felt compelled to go and do it. For me, the creativity was in the fact that I’d had an idea I hadn’t had before – and that if I didn’t do anything about it – nothing would happen.

…it’s worth being more aware of what happens when ideas come alive in you.

Since that first rush of excitement of making something real, I’ve been intrigued by the creative project process, and it’s brought me to Kaospilot. In this piece, I will share my reflections on the stages I’ve identified – for myself – and then finish with a more lyrical ‘ode’ about the whole thing. I say ‘for myself’, because I think at the end of the day, no matter how many methods, ways of doing it, ways other people do it, existing ideas and so forth there are – there’s a way that you do it, right now. That’s not to say your creative process can’t be improved, delightfully grown and hacked every which way – I think it can. I think that’s what training, experience, and experimentation does. But for starters, it’s worth being more aware of what happens when ideas come alive in you.

Searching, conceive and create

I’ve identified three stages – searching, conceive and create. The stages can be named in different ways, so please sub in your own meanings if they make more sense to you. As we go through the stages, I’ll throw in a few questions for you to reflect on your own process.  You might like to actually answer them, hold them as points to reflect on, or see if they trigger anything in you.

For a bit of fun, I’m going to quote the Latin etymologies of these stages – because who doesn’t like someone with the Apple spotlight dictionary at hand letting them know a bit more about 600 year old linguistics.

SEARCHING

I say the search because before there was a moment of insight – there was a moment (or a few good years) of not knowing. Search is from late Latin circare ‘go round’, from Latin circus ‘circle’.

The circle is how it often feels before we really know what we’re searching for. Even when we do. Sometimes all we know is that something is off, or up, or on.

I find that questions and visualising images are pretty good searchlights. As is dissatisfaction in some area turned into a quest for something better.

Now for the questions. They’re aimed to help you shine some more consciousness on this area of your life.

What does this stage look to you?

How do you go out and look for inspiration?

What questions do you ask and about what?

How implicit or explicit is your process of finding new answers?

CONCEIVE

To conceive is from Latin concipere, from com ‘together’ + ‘capere’ ‘take’. So, it’s take together. And that, precisely that, is the magical one I think. When things come together. There’s an almighty boom, and in a shocking instant, you know both what you were searching for, and ‘the answer’. At least as far as you can see right then! Wonderful.

And the questions:

When do you get new ideas?

How do they feel to you, and why are they different?

What bits come together?

How do you open to inspiration, and the possible impulses within you?

CREATE

This is such an awesome one that I’ll give two layers of its definition. The late Middle English meaning of ‘to form out of nothing’ comes from Latin creat; ‘produced’. Produced comes from pro ‘forward’ and ducere ‘to lead’. So creating is leading forward something to form out of nothing. That is pretty bloody magical.

I’ve realised over time that the link between the conception and creation is a quite messy one. As you design, experiment, and act – essentially as imagination meets reality, those two sort things out.

Some questions on creation:

What does this step look like for you?

How does it feel?

What is your metaphorical birth canal? (This is a question I’ve never asked before).

What’s your process of converting impulse to action?

How do you lead forward something to form, out of nothing?

ACTIVATING, RESTRAINING, RECONCILING

With all of these steps, it’s handy to ask into to each area with a change framework such as ‘Activating, Restraining, Reconciling’. This can structure thinking into something that is movement focused. It will also generate a more nuanced understanding of the factors supporting or hindering change.

Activating:

What activates me, gives me energy and takes me forward?

Restraining:

What restrains me, and holds me where I am?

Reconciling:

What reconciles these aspects? And how can I synthesise, experiment with, and find a way to move forward?

FINAL WORDS

So, what are your stages? And what does your creative process look like, to you? Hopefully there are some points of reflection that you might find valuable in better understanding your own cycles of insight and action. Feel free to also ask your friends using the hottest and least pretentious late night bar question ‘What’s your creative process?’ I’ll leave you with my own lyrical reflections, of the way the creative project process feels for me.

Flash & Flow

It’s the ultimate release. You feel free of yourself. Of your own thinking.

It’s often hard to detect the signals when you’re in the midst of it. It’s a slow pregnancy. A rumination of input, fragments of purpose and meaning. Your mind is optimising, for something.

Then, the lightbulb moment. The flash and flow that comes from an outpouring of an idea – a vision that is at once coherent and creative.

Its base is purity of purpose. Of something you’ve been trying to do, or figure out a way to – without knowing exactly what or where.

When we really get an idea, it seems deep, visceral, real. You can imagine yourself in it, and feel it. Feel the freedom and excitement of it. It’s alive, in you; it has come from a grand synthesis of the optimisation process of an awesome entity – your mind, heart and soul.

Your chance then, is to get it out. Or rather, to let it pour out. It’ll all be there – awaiting its full birth.

The amount of data, input, and inspiration that goes into these ideas is truly amazing. Every experience, conversation, distinction, musing – all condensed, compacted, reformed and generated, re-born, into something new. Contained by you – at this stage. A hope, a whisper, the firing of your neurons. The possibility and creativity of life, flowing through you. Something the world needs, from you.

As you see, believe, and create, more is formed.

If you feel it calling, go and make it. Let it evolve and feel the satisfaction of turning a concept into reality. Because as you make one thing, you can make another. As you see, believe, and create, more is formed. More input. More aspiration, need, and drive for what the world is calling for, next.

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