September 07, 2010

It's Not Process

The creative process is not really a process. As John O'Donohue observed when talking about the mind and thought, to describe the way we go as a process reduces our journey and its destination to something very cold and mechanical. Process requires a nuts and bolts approach, a kit of parts utilised for a desired outcome. Creativity by definition is never sure what its outcome is going to be, and therefore cannot assume the luxury of a process to fall back on.

But what do we have, then? 

We have practice – practical things like sketchbooks, cameras, notebooks, and a habit of using them.

We have encounters – the things that will be recorded with those tools and resources. Be fully engaged with those.

We have discipline – knowing that lessons are learned in a cyclical pattern of experience, reflection, and practical application.

We have craft – earned through diligent, habitual behaviour which us helps refine our language.

We have courage – a brave ability to engage with risk, knowing that if we don't risk we don't discover, or have anything new to contribute.

We have experience — a knowing that tough days are equalled by triumphs. If you cannot see it today, don't worry, it will not always be like that. Keep going. 

And within the high and low of experience, we have mystery. 

Living with mystery is the most heroic place a creative person can exist, because it requires that you do not rush towards an outcome out of fear. This rushing reduces you to a process again, because you will only cling to solutions you have already discovered. Living in mystery allows ideas, thoughts and encounters to travel somewhere new together, but these road trips take time. Whilst the conversation is unfolding, hold your nerve, it's still happening although perhaps in secret. 

It is not process, it is patience. I think it is the art of being as much as the art of doing.

Do not worry if you are not feeling a process. You're still cool.

{Today's Soudntrack: Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now}

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