For artists, entrepreneurs, and innovators of all stripes, creativity is the coinage of the realm.
So, how does the creative process work for you? Are you able to tap into your creativity easily, or does it feel elusive to you?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as I near the end of one project and start thinking about what’s next. Coming close to the finish line on a project always prompts me to look back on the whole process of getting it done – from idea right through implementation.
One of the things that is striking to me is how my vision of a project changes through time. This, I believe, is because the more you engage with something, the more it changes you.
When I have an idea that I’m excited about, I see it in its wholeness. The details aren’t clear yet. It’s like being in a plane at 20,000 feet and looking down.
Creativity, Engagement, and Vision
As soon as I take my first step into implementing my project, my vision shifts into the details. With each decision about these details, I am engaging in a journey whose path I’ve never traveled before.
The more engaged and open I am to all the twists and turns of this journey, the more willing I am to seeing new tings and to changing my vision of my project — because I’m learning as I go.
So, the creative process truly is an incremental unfolding – a kind of dance in which every single step makes the next one possible. Each step leads to the next in ways that are unpredictable beforehand but make total sense in retrospect.
Here are two quotes — the first from Steve Jobs and the second from Ralph Waldo Emerson — that illustrate what I mean:
- “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”
- “… we cannot see things that stare us in the face, until the hour arrives when the mind is ripened; then we behold them, and the time when we saw them not is like a dream.”
Creativity and Choices
And finally, when it comes to the myriad choices involved in the creative process, it’s vital to remember the importance of boundaries.
As you engage with your project each step, each choice, is saying “Yes” to one thing after another – and that means eliminating lots of other possibilities. This is an act of courage, and as Steve Jobs notes, in another quote that I love:
- “I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”
So, as expansive and filled with discoveries as the creative process feels and is, it is actually built on choices that gradually sharpen and narrow your focus. As with any journey, you begin with a whole world of possibilities, but eventually, you arrive at a singular and specific destination.
Here’s to your creative process, and to all the choices you make along the way.