The Internet is full of articles, books and videos on how you can become more creative. 7 steps, 2 secrets, one magic potion(good old snake oil) and so on. You want to become more creative? That’s great. I want too. Yet the hard thruth is you can’t become more creative! You can just make room for creativity to manifest through you. That’s a huge difference.
Ideas, inspiration and art are not your creation. You’re just a connector between the invisible world and the visible world. You receive a gift and pass it along.
The more you think and try to control the creativity process, the less creative you are. It’s like trying to catch a cat versus relax and let the cat come to you.
Maybe this concepts seems stupid and esoteric to you. That’s ok. Just think a second about these questions:
– Why do you become so dull when you try hard to be “creative”?
– Why do you get some of the best ideas in strange places(shower) and unexpectedly, when you’re not thinking?
– How come you’re so creative in the FLOW – when you’re doing something with complete focus and not thinking about it?
I worked in the creative industries for over 12 years. I had thousands of attempts to “get more creative”, to control the process, to become “better”. I failed miserably. I’ve lived with the fear, the anxiety, the shame and the despair each time I realized that’s impossible. At the same time I had hundreds of clients who paid me for creative services. Quite a paradox.
Here’s a common scenario: you’re signing a contract with a huge client. You promise to deliver amazing creative work. She’s very excited. You’re very excited. Then you realize you’re in the spotlight, you got paid well and you need to deliver something great. Something YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER!
That’s about the right moment to freak out. I asked myself for years: what’s the trick? Do I need to get through this emotional rollercoaster each time I tackle a project? Do I need to live tormented by these demons all my life? And how am I supposed to make sure I deliver great creative work if I have no control?
About three days ago I got some simple and powerful answers in a coaching session. The best thing: they came naturally, without any effort. I just wrote them down. Here they are:
1. The creative process happen by itself and can’t be controlled. You get the best results when you give up control.
2. My goal is to create something of value. Yet in the moment I give up control, I’m not the one who decides what’s being created and how valuable it is. Trough me it’s manifested a creation who goes forward into the world.
3. I don’t write, I just hit the keyboard. I don’t draw, I just hold the pen. I don’t design, I just move the mouse.
4. Control is an illusion. You can only control some parts of yourself, not other people or the environment.
I showed these to a friend and got this answer:
– That’s some esoteric bullshit. You are deciding and controlling the creative process. Or at least some parts.
– Actually, you’re not. You can’t control the process. You can just influence it. And that’s a pretty different thing.
You can influence the process through a lot of things:
– what you read, watch and hear
– people you spend your time with
– how much you practice your craft(acting, writing, coding, singing, drawing, presenting, etc)
– your studies
– your body state (sleep, food, exercise)
– the environment you choose
– the structure you use (you can write a poem, novel, essay or tweet)
– the medium
You influence the creative process though everything that you do and everything that you are. Yet what you create it’s not decided by you, doesn’t come from you and it’s not controlled by you.
That’s a nice theory. But how do I know for sure if giving up control has a positive impact on my work? Just try it and measure the results. Compare the results you get in the flow with the results you get when you overthink stuff.
Why do people like work created in the flow?
I had a magic conversation with a friend over wine earlier this year. As the topic slipped more into philosophy and abstract concepts I asked him:
– Why do you think the design I “do” appeals to people? I seem to know intuitively when I “created” something really good. Then I show it to the world and people like it despite of their culture, education or personal background. How is this possible?
*His answer shocked me in a wonderful way. He quoted from Kant:*
– “The beautiful is that with apart from concepts is represented as the object of a universal satisfaction.” – IK: The Critique of Judgement
Universal satisfaction. That’s sounds about enough for every creative :).
Your mind doesn’t know what represents universal satisfaction. Nor it can create it. It’s too big of a concept to comprehend and access.
The mind was amazing as a survival tool. But in the creative process it screws everything up. Because it wants control. And then uses the control to jam the process. If you “think” about it, your mind’s limitations make it stupid and cruel. It’s like having your own internal micromanager that just won’t shut up.
That’s why a lot of creatives use alcohol and drugs to quiet the mind while creating. The trouble with that path is that you pay a huge price: addiction. You may become more creative for a short amount of time but you lose your freedom.
So, how can you create more magic while being calm and joyful? Some counterintuive things will help for sure: studying presence, meditating, walking in nature, exercising, coaching, anything that calms your controlling mind.
There’s no easy and short path. No “creativity steroids” or “magic powder”. Just an organic, evolving, natural and steady path towards becoming more connected to the true reservoir of creativity. The invisible world.
Let’s deliver some creative gifts to the world.
Related resources that helped me a lot:
P.S. Although I made a lot of progress fighting my “creative demons” I’m not cured yet. It may happen, it may not. However, the creative process became more fun and easy. The quality of my work increased constantly. Both from my perspective and the feedback I get from clients and my audiences.
Now I can tackle new mediums of expression like drawing, english writing, vlogging. Things I could only dream of.