- It’s destructive. The creative process is as much about destruction as it is making something new. It needs space, and one way the creative process makes sure it has that space is to clear out the old or what’s no longer working. It will destroy whatever is in its way. (Don’t worry, if you really embrace your creative process, you won’t have much of a say in what gets destroyed.)
- It’s fierce. The creative process will make you face your greatest terrors. In the late 1980s, Chicago promoted tourism to its great city by claiming that Chicago was “not for sissies.” The creative process is not for sissies either. If you have a vision or dream, you can rest assured that you will be asked to face your fears along the way. All of them.
- The darkness is where the juice is, not “the light.” As humans, we are forever looking around us, in search of the next idea, opportunity, recognition, reward. But the truth is, when it comes to the creative process, mulling around in the dark muck is where real life lies. If you need nourishment, ideas, or inspiration—go to that place of dark muck…wherever that is for you. For me, it’s imagining myself as a deep root immersed in dark, fertile soil. In that dark place, I can’t “see” with my regular eyesight, I can only feel my way.
- The creative process is the core of who we are as humans, it’s not a leisure activity. For many, creativity is viewed as a supplemental luxury—something they do once in a while (take a pottery class, start a garden) when they have a free evening or weekend. But the truth is, all of human endeavor is a creative process—learning is a creative process; social change is a creative process; the natural world is a creative process. Creativity is not supplemental.
- The creative process wants you to slow down, rather than speed up…but it’s a certain kind of slowing down. The creative process does not want passivity, it wants quiet alertness. Eckhart Tolle describes the condition of “extreme wakefulness” as one similar to a cat’s state of mind—when she waits for hours watching the mouse hole for the mouse to appear. The cat is not moving, it has slowed w-a-y down, but it is far from passive.
The creative process is destructive, fierce, dark, mucky and ornery (polite people might call it “non-linear”). It demands and deserves our respect.