The Production Part

What keeps us from the production part of the creative process? The part that takes it from imagination to creation?

My last post spoke to the perception of some people that they lack creativity and the concept that, indeed, creativity involves two processes: thinking and producing. The assertion that not acting on ideas renders one imaginative but not creative provided food for thought among several readers.

So let's talk about what keeps us from making our ideas and imaginations a reality. Julia Cameron, in her book Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creativity (2003), sums it up this way:

"Thinking is not the enemy, but overthinking is."

"When we are worrying about creating instead of actually creating, 
we are wasting our creative energy."

Can we label this reticence as fear? Creation involves baring the soul, and that can be terrifying, I'll grant you. Rejection stinks, and some people go to great lengths to avoid it.

Most creative people I've talked to emphasize that they can't not create. Early efforts often never see the light of day - my first painting is mouldering in a landfill - but as confidence is gained, we put these bits of our soul out into the world. I was really proud of my second-ever painting . . .
'Althea' oil on canvas, 36x48"
 . . . and a friend actually bought it, which did wonders for my spirit. (This episode in my life reminds me of one of my favorite clips from the US version of 'The Office', involving Pam's bravery and Michael's friendship: Always makes me cry.)

The flip side is a story I once read about an acrylic painter whose completed works were stacked several feet deep around the walls of his apartment and discovered upon his death. Most friends and neighbors were unaware he ever picked up a paintbrush. I don't find that story sad, really. I saw it more as an artist driven to create with no need for outside validation. Carl Jung believed that "(A)rt is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him."

Walking in this World was a sequel to Julia Cameron's bestseller The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (1992), in which she observes:

"I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say instead that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow."

Sounds to me like she's recommending affirmations, which I first encountered in Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain (originally published in 1978). Shakti reminds us that the nature of the words and ideas running through our brains are the "basis on which we form our experience of reality." If these words and ideas are negative, it's no wonder we perceive our abilities as lacking. Affirmations replace this negative "programming" with positive language and concepts. They an be recited silently or aloud, written down, or even changed. Since affirmations are phrased in the present tense, not in the future, it's easier to create what you want on the inner plane, before it can manifest in external reality.

For example, if your imagination has provided you with ideas that you are afraid to turn into creations, every time you think "I can't do this" or "I'm not good enough," try countering the thought with an affirmation like "My ideas are fresh and exciting, and I now possess the courage to turn them into something tangible." Once you've reprogrammed your brain to automatically switch to the positive, get ready for wonderful things to happen. And accept that you deserve them.

Everyone has limiting beliefs. Between our schooling, family and friends, and so many other influences, forcing us to hold ourselves to questionable, sometimes impossible, ideals, it's no wonder "I can't" is the first reaction when presented with the opportunity for the vulnerability that creativity provides.

If this process was easy, the world would be a much brighter, more accepting place. Patience is essential. No one is an overnight sensation. When described that way by an interviewer some years ago, actor William H. Macy gently pointed out that it only took him 35 years to achieve it.

"You will become as great as your dominant aspiration. 
If you cherish a vision, a lofty ideal in your heart, you will realize it." 
James Allen


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