Mindfulness In The Creative Process
Before throwing myself into my creative career and purpose, I had more than my fair share of atrocious jobs the kind of jobs that made me feel like curling up on the floor in a fetal position and waiting the month out for my paycheck.
There was the one where I was a call center sales and customer service representative… then there was the personal assistant one — to a mingy bully of a high school principal who we affectionately named Mrs. Hitler… an interpreter for medical brigades in Costa Rica… and the list goes on. I shudder to think how my life would have turned out had I not discovered something that I was deeply passionate about.
Considering a creative career wasn’t something that even seemed possible. The world tends to see designers as a new breed of hipster who grow their beards, wear oversized glasses and drink coffee out of mason jars — and I just didn’t come close to that or any other preconceived notion.
Once I stopped everything I was doing and dedicated myself to doing nothing except tinkering around with new ideas, I realized that creativity itself was the antidote to my mental inflexibility. So, as scarcely creative as any previous jobs were, once I had dipped my toes into this venture that was Design, I was astonished at how little things I had picked up from my past kept cropping up and were rather quite useful, mind you. Now I was creating my own product and caring for my own customers.
No matter how many lousy jobs or ups and downs you’ve personally experienced up to this point, just know that coming to terms with and giving yourself to those things that you’re truly passionate about, is the best decision that you’ll ever make and that this is just one of the things that you’re good at. Whatever you decide to do now or in the future for your well-being, you’ll be able to pull through because you’ll already have embodied and experienced the courage you need.
The thought of the term creativity often feels bigger than us and that’s probably because it transcends our own beliefs about ourselves. I believe it to be an ability not exclusive to just a select few of us. All of us are responsible for acknowledging creativity within ourselves and grabbing the bull by the horns.
Creativity is not a manifestation of only those who make beautiful things with their hands or come up with ideas that change the world. Anything that you create or transmit in an original way — tangible or intangible — and which provokes a positive response, is creativity at its best.
To tap into your own creativity, you’re going to need to strip away the preconceived notion that creativity is only related to art.
Each of us is born to follow our own unique breadcrumb trail of ideas — be it in the area art, mathematics or science. It is when we become aware of our own special abilities, that we are able to contribute. Then we begin to walk in the confidence that we are finally doing what really defines us.
You decide to be creative by making a conscious decision to dive into your passions in a very self-indulgent way — where you look to satisfy your own needs and your own curiosity first. Saving the world? Maybe you will. But that will only be consequential and will have to wait a tad.
We all have a genius living inside of us but as we grow older, we start trying to slot into patterns that already exist, instead of scratching our itch to be who we naturally are. Before long we resign ourselves to there only being a few, limited ways to achieve the results we want and that is what ultimately gives rise to a creative disconnect. When I think of creative souls, I think of people who understand that creativity inhabits them — in bucketloads that innate power within them that makes their deepest desires tangible. Your soul is willing to turn off the “impossible” as long as your mind lets it.
Henri Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.” — and you can see the truth of it in people who understand that beauty has a million different faces.
People who live their creative passions live in the uncertainty of the outcome of what they create — and they’re fulfilled by the mere act of producing something despite that uncertainty.
It’s simply impossible for you and I to look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we are not creative when we’ve already set our minds on something that’s wildly as creative as blogging is. I’m glad we agree.
That said, feeding the creative you doesn’t assure that failure is never on the table. Rather it assures you that if failure does ever come knocking, you will be able to pick yourself right back up and try again — because that thing you are trying to unleash is much bigger and more powerful than any obstacle — within and without.
Whatever we set our sights on, we get bombarded with ideas that are sometimes brilliant and sometimes not so brilliant.
Everyone and I mean everyone that’s in the business of creating their own online editorials, has this type of artistic streak — and more often than not, channeling it all is an uphill battle.
There’s no secret formula to unleashing ideas in your life. There’s no one-process- fits-all method —it takes knowing what our end goal is and focusing on that to make the right decisions.
What often fails us is not creativity or inspiration it’s our fixation on the things that we are pouring our time into. We need to examine our motivations before we decide to create and to ask ourselves:
Am I really doing what I deeply want to be doing?
If you answer is “yes”, ideas will have your back and they will grow in you as something intelligent, dynamic and interactive. Where there’s passion there’s inspiration and where there’s inspiration, you find a way.
The windfall of accepting that creativity is a part of us is a steady flow of ideas that can truly be of service to us. While your process is unique, the following stages are essential in every Creative’s life:
Preparation — This is the first phase — and it focuses on sharpening your skills so that you can warm to those ideas: Creating a monthly mood board, for example, can help keep you in the flow for the next step.
Incubation — Gives your ideas time to sink in. In this stage, your conscious and subconscious
minds converge, making true connections that allow you to rest on your thoughts without letting them overwhelm you or clutter any area of your life.
Illumination — This is your “Aha!” moment — when a concrete idea hits you and you are able to discern the essence and worth of it. At this point you write down 3 key benefits of your general idea.
Implementation — It’s time to put your idea out there. This when a product is shaped, a post is written, a marketing idea comes to fruition fill in the blank.
Eventually creativity works with us as opposed to “for” us when we focus on things that truly motivate us and when we come to understand that perfection is the killer of progress.
Embracing those recurring moments where ideas are born is something that can help you build a better relationship with your process. It helps you to be better prepared and to rest on something — instead of feeling the urge to poke at it endlessly — which makes for a more mindful outcome.
My personal advice is that you live your life fully, and manifest your creativity by making sure that your focus is on things that move you… that you satisfy your curiosity and never stop working with your own set of skills and beliefs. Do not give up when you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall. Those obstacles are there to shape us, not to have us throw in the towel.
Whatever you do, don’t ever tether your creativity to praise — or the lack thereof. If you even subconsciously make it dependent on that, you will continuously sell yourself short. There’s no hollower place to be than having your happiness lie at the whim of others.
If what worries you the most is to either meet everyone’s expectations (or to avoid criticism), maybe you need to realize that most people are so caught up in their own love affair with perfection to notice your “unforgivable” imperfections, that what you think are mammoth-size mistakes are really tiny specs of dust falling through cracks without anybody noticing them.
So… be kind to yourself when it comes to judging your own work — and instead of resisting, open yourself up to other people judging it, otherwise you will never find the courage to put it out into the world, to be who you want to be and do what you want to do. And for God’s sake! Be inevitably, unashamedly and humanly imperfect.
Let your work flow and develop your style organically. Have the Universe know that you are up to the challenge.
From my book 30 Days To Minimal Blogging — Chapter 10: “Creativity”.
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