Posted on | November 21, 2008 | No Comments
Secret #3: Creativity is not just about action.
History shows humans are always creating.
My wife and I have 3 wonderful children. My wife is a labor Doula (birth coach) and is currently studying to be a Midwife, so between my own children, and the stories of the many labors at which my wife has been present, I’ve about as much credibility as any man (other than an obstetrician) can have about the birth process. I’ll never understand the experience in the full sense that any mother has experienced and I’ll never be a member of that club. No man will. But my non-member status shouldn’t disqualify me from using birth as the perfect metaphor for the creative process.
The creation of children is the most profound act of creativity imaginable. It truly shows us how miracles happen when we work together with God and the tools nature provided. Making babies is not a solitary practice. It’s not done alone. It is an act of manifesting a combination of natural materials (DNA, water, carbon, etc.) into something more. Conception takes both a giving and receiving. It takes time for the baby to develop in the womb. There are signals of the approaching birth. The manifestation and birth can be a euphoric experience when embraced with knowledge and intention to enjoy the process, or the birth can be traumatic, painful, and frightening if the process is forced or a non-creative will is imposed on the creator.
It’s no different (although it’s arguably less miraculous – at least to this man) when we create a novel, a movie, a skyscraper, or a business. To create a successful business we have to give (the masculine element or “yang”) something of value to customers and clients. To enjoy a successful business, we have to receive (the female element or “yin”) something of value in return.
These events can happen in either order, like breathing in then out, but it’s better to think of them as part of the same or simultaneous thing – like a “breath” includes both the inhale and the exhale. To create a novel, we have to receive an idea, and then we have to give effort to bring the idea to the page. Like a woman in birth, we feel the effort. If we force it, creativity can be very difficult, but if we work with the process, it can be an intense experience we’re happy to remember for a lifetime. We remember the process of creation not only for the joy of what we created, but for what we learned on the journey and how the process of creating something new changed us.
There are many great books on the process of creativity. The core of all those different methods boils down to a few key steps, which apply to all creative endeavors:
Before exploring these steps in detail, it’s important to remember that for truly creative solutions to any challenge, we need two equally important factors in mind: first, to be creative, we by definition need to have something unusual; second, to be a solution, whatever we end up with needs to work and solve the problem. The process necessarily plays back and forth with these sometimes-competing approaches to maximize the effectiveness of each. It can be messy. It can be ambiguous. It can be anxiety-ridden. Most of all, it should be FUN.