The actual experience of creating something is often very different from our ideas about creativity.
Creativity is described as fun, exciting, motivating, exhilarating.
Creating … well, just look around online or get together with friends and colleagues, and you’ll hear people talk about discipline, struggle, and fear. They describe wrestling with writing and beating projects into submission.
Creation is the process of changing state from where we are today, with our creation as an idea or a work in progress, towards the finished result – and towards the ripple of additional results that arise when we create something and release it into the world.
There’s an inherent tension at play during this process of creation: the tension caused by the discrepancy between what we have today (an idea or a work in progress) versus what we want to create (our goal, the desired end result).
This tension is no small thing, especially when we’re not completely clear on how we’re getting to that end result … or about what will happen when we arrive.
Yet the tension is necessary for creation to happen. You must be aware of the difference between here and now and the desired future result of your completed creation.
The problem comes when we believe that the discomfort we feel in the middle of this creative tension is something we have to fix or get rid of before we can get on with creating what we want. And that leads us down any number of side tracks off the main path of creating – side tracks that are all about trying to know things we can’t know, and leading to a single off-course destination: procrastination.
Common side tracks include trying figure out how to be certain about what this creation will actually do for us; trying to overcome our fear about what could happen when the creation is complete; trying to know exactly what each step of the creation process will look like; and trying to silence the voices of doubt and “not enough” in our heads. And of course we all have our own favorite side tracks off this path of creating what we want.
Going down those side tracks is what creates the struggle and the sense that we’re wrestling with our creation or having to beat it into submission.
Of course I’m not saying that we should blindly race down the path of creation without considering whether the end result will actually be, do, or give us what we want. Nor am I saying that we should rush madly into creating something without any sort of plan or idea of what’s involved.
I am saying that when we can be comfortable with the discomfort of creating, we will be happier, more productive, and much more likely to bring our ideas into reality.
Recently, I’ve been noticing how it feels when I seduce my work, flirt with it, play with it, romp with it, get curious about it, engage it in meaningful discussion, and laugh with it.
That may sound odd, but it’s no weirder than wrestling with it, struggling with it, or trying to beat it into submission. And – no surprise, I’m sure – it’s a ton more fun, and the results are better, arrive more quickly, and feel more satisfying.
Plus, I have a lot more energy available to start engaging with my next creation.