Creativity and me, and what about you?

It has taken me a while to grasp that the phrase ” creative process,”  is in one way an oxymoron.

Creation and creativity have always fascinated me, but it is really only the last 10 years or so that I have connected it with me.  Somewhere early on I made a false, exclusive connection with art and artistry. Later as I chose my own learning paths I looked differently and realised that creativity, is hard to miss, once you start to look out for it.

I suspect my initial conclusions about creativity and me, date from art at school and not being able to draw (Or so I thought– I’ve changed my mind about that now too) That what appeared on the page was not satisfactory. It didn’t matter what the teacher said, I soon understood that their comments about this art stuff was just as subjective as mine – Even before I knew what the word subjective meant.

Later at university I had a great eye opening, something that I return to often. Many of my friends were ( are) artists of different varieties and during the course of my time there I saw each of them engage in the creative process in unique ways. The biggest surprise  was how long it takes. Because I had never been party to the creation time span it had never occurred to me that the lovely illustration, or pot, or print on textile, had taken weeks and sometimes a lot longer to be born. During the gestation period, there had been many different paths taken, developed, abandoned, picked up again.

Writing that now, it is easy to see that this is evolution. Evolution may be a process (or not)  – creativity lives here at each step of the journey, each stage in the process. But creation I have concluded is not a process.

That first spark that sets you off – where did that come from? Within or without.

It seems to me creativity isn’t to be forced, as a long term strategy that leads to tiredness and exhaustion and misery. And creation, the notion of a Muse that makes sense to me. Those Ancient Greeks had really worked out some stuff hadn’t they? Maybe those philosophers had time and space to think! 🙂

Creativity can be a wonderful madness, sometimes frenzied, sometimes steady and a series of experiments, becoming iterative, sometimes meditative, sometimes in flow sometimes not.

You can set up the environment – your world – to make it easier for the creative spark to happen, to ignite you. You can go to inspirational places, read inspirational things,  learn from people that inspire you  -be curious and be interested, all will help.  You can decide to be open to ideas arriving unbidden.  I know now that  it is essential to allow for all of this, you must  set  your creative environment, once you understand what that is for you.

I finally connected all this stuff with  me later on, as in my working life I had to find ways to make things happen, and considering the people I was lucky enough to work with including customers beyond the walls, it seemed to me that business at its best needs creativity.

This is easy to see in product terms the idea, the testing and building. It  is more subtle but just as important throughout  the business.  It might be in creating a vision that others understand and believe in, it might be in describing why a particular business process affects the overall health of the company, connecting the cold facts with the warm living breathing humans, people working together

And just as an artist suffers when the muse can’t or won’t come, if you are tired, mentally exhausted, bored, feeling stuck in the relentless, then it is the same for anyone working in business too The desire, the will to continue can dissipate and you can mask it for a while but long term it stops being sustainable

To understand what  unique ways you access this sense of creativity, rather than relying it to turn up for you out of habit seems a sensible strategy,  to sustain personal performance, but more importantly that of those around you.

And I’ve seen over and over again that finding the space and time repays in ways you could not have predicted

How do you do it?



4 thoughts on “Creativity and me, and what about you?

  1. Thoughtful post Sarah. I was thinking yesterday, before I read this, how simply turning up to the task, even if I don’t really feel like it, eventually sparks creativity or leads to something decent. I tend to go for iteration…Lots. Rarely will I throw out work but it might take a while to really shape up. Editing is vital. The other thing is being honest and hard and listen when something tells you a design or a direction just isn’t right. Or that there’s a better way if you just persist. All while keeping the golden rule of ‘shipping over perfectionism’ which in the end wins out. Sometimes the act of letting stuff out there in itself triggers its own creative new ideas.

    • I am absolutely with Janinevasta on ‘turning up to the task’ – I think a lot of (most?) writers would say the same – you don’t feel like it / would rather make soup / the garden needs weeding … But what I have found almost every time is that turning up – and I am lucky, I have a space that is linked in my head with ‘writing’ – something will come. If it doesn’t, I pick up my fat pencil and do some automatic writing, and then something is likely to shift. A great feeling!

      • I don;t where I read this, but it was in the last few days and it was someone who was either an artist or an architect. The phrase that was used was “inspiration is for amateurs” and I loved that as a thinking sound bite.

        Turning up certainly for writing is a discipline I am learning. I’ve learned recently that sometimes I have to find new ways of “turning up” .. mm that has sent me thinking some more. Thanks Amanda!

  2. I agree about turning up for creativity. It is like a respectful bargain if I turn up for you, perhaps you will turn up for me.. I don’t tend to completely discard often, something about it will remain, but sometimes producing the first thing, that I didn’t like, somehow paves the way for the what arises next. I am not sure how predictable you can make it all though. I suppose I am wondering somewhere about taking creativity for granted. And the other thing that came to mind reading your comment about editing, was the word pruning.

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