Have you ever wondered about the creative process? Okay. Well, maybe not. But I do. And it helps me to process on the processes. So, that’s the topic for today’s blog. I invite you to join me as I reflect on creative development.
The Creative Process
Stage 1: The Groundwork-Inspiration/Motivation Phase
Let’s begin with preparation, i.e., gathering what we need know for our writing project. Whether you are working on a life story, memoir, sculpture, or construction project, you need information, materials, resources—you need inspiration. For some writers, including me, it helps to meditate before sitting down to write. Meditation frees my mind to let concepts, words, inspiration flow. Motivation may also be found on social media, like Instagram, FaceBook, Pinterest—and Internet sites, books of the theme you plan to write on, et cetera. Engaging with anything creative helps in the creative process: take a walk, listen to music, watch movies and/or documentaries on the same topic, read memoirs, poetry—anything! Record your thoughts on your cell phone or take notes with paper and pen. Use observation to absorb every detail of others’ creations—including Mother Nature’s.
Stage 2: Incubation (or as I call it, “Percolation”)
Let the ideas and information that you collected in Stage 1 percolate in your mind for a while. Ideas connect to other ideas as they sit in the mind and bubble. During the bubbling-up time, the mind takes over without having to consciously think. Albert Einstein called it “combinatory play.” He said, “Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.” So let it go! The unconscious mind will analyze and synthesize until you are ready to write.
Stage 3: Illumination-The “Ah-ha” Moment
Unlike an epiphany, your ah-ha moment may not come in a sudden blast of genius—it might; but don’t be discouraged if it does not. Often, illumination may come quietly, in a contemplative voice. This voice may come while making dinner, doing dishes, brushing your teeth, or taking a shower. Whenever it comes, begin the creation of your story.
Stage 4: Now write
Following the ah-ha moment, the words are written. Whatever ideas percolated in Stage 3 are developed in Stage 4. Talk about your project out loud with supportive friends/family. The more you talk, the more the ideas take shape. And when you disclose your plan, you are more likely to carry through. Besides, the Universe hears you and will help bring your project to fruition. Quickly write your first draft, using Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, 25-minute writing/working spurts, but don’t be concerned about the length. You’ll fill in more details later. Do NOT expect your first draft to be perfect—or complete. Be patient with yourself! But get your rough draft on paper.
Stage 5: The Honesty Phase-Whatcha Think?
Read your rough draft with a discerning eye. Read it out loud! Writers hear their words, errors and all, and may be reminded of new connections, events, text, once forgotten. Is the theme, the development so far, what you were looking for? Not all projects are worth pursuing. This is the time to ask yourself, bluntly, “Is this worth continuing?” If your answer is no, you have two options: (1) Scrap it and begin anew; or (2) revise, fine-tune, and carry on.
Stage 6: Expansion-Write more
Here’s the step where you fill in the details. Keep in mind the “Show, Don’t Tell” philosophy. If you have written a statement—something like, I was sick and tired of her stringing me along—expand on the feelings, the experience, and show us! You might write, instead, Susie canceled on me again! This is the last time I’ll be disappointed by her. No more. I’m done! Hone in on the language you want to use. If something does not come to you or you need more information, write “t/b/d” and move on. You can search for “t/b/d” and replace those instances later.
Thank you for allowing me to process. I hope it was as helpful to you as it was to me. Keep writing!