E M P O W E R E D C H A N G E
creativity to happen, something within us must be brought to life
in something outside of us . . . if you're looking to find the
creative spirit somewhere outside of yourself, you're looking
in the wrong place."
The Creative Spirit by Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael
is defined, in the 10th Edition of the Merriam Webster Collegiate
Dictionary, as "the act of bringing the world into ordered existence."
When we are experiencing times of change, getting in touch with
our creative energy - the vital life force - can help us to manage
and even to utilize the change in a positive, life-enhancing manner,
bringing our world back into some semblance of order.
quality of "creativity" is an energy that flows through all creation.
How we, as human beings, choose to reveal and use that creativity
out in the world is what we call our creative self-expression. There
is never a time when we are not in the process of creating, however,
we are at our most effective and empowered center when we choose
to create consciously and with intention.
creativity is seamless and essentially permeates every aspect of
our lives, we do not necessarily experience it this way. For most
of us, creativity seems to flow in fits and starts - when it flows
at all. So, how do we tap into this seemingly elusive creative flow,
particularly if we do not see ourselves as "creative"?
creative process can be broken down, for the purposes of understanding
and utilizing its vast power and unlimited potential, into 5 stages:
preparation, incubation, daydreaming, illumination, and transformation.
(From The Creative Spirit by Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael
Ray) While each of these stages can be described as distinct and
different from each other in characterization, method, and technique,
each is essentially inter-woven in a tapestry that is complete and
whole, and is the fabric of the ever-changing backdrop of life as
we know - or create - it.
is important to remember that creativity increases as we become
more aware of our creative acts. It is a self-perpetuating cycle:
The more we can see ourselves as creative, the more creative we
become, and so the cycle goes - creativity begetting creative self-confidence,
which begets creativity and so on. It is a powerful circuit of energy
and one that is worth consciously tapping into.
do we purposefully, and with intention, access that energy and move
into the creative flow? The first step is preparation.
confronted with a situation or circumstance, a project or challenge
that requires us to get our creative juices flowing, the first thing
we need to do is to get a clear picture of what it is we are dealing
with or working toward. This may require research, reading, networking
with others, etc. It may require that we seek out additional sources
of information that will help us to understand the issue at hand.
Remember to be alert and constantly on the lookout for insights
and ideas, as well as needed information, as you never know when
inspiration may arise or when opportunity will present itself. Be
focused and intentional - saturate yourself with the idea or issue
down any and all ideas that may come to you during this time. Always
keep handy a supply of notepads, sketchpads, pens, pencils, a tape
recorder, or computer if you like - whatever you think might help
you to sort out and work through your project/idea/problem. If you
are working on a project, such as a piece of art, you may want to
have your basic materials ready and accessible. You shouldn't have
to go looking for supplies when you need them in a moment of inspiration.
example, when I was in college, there was a time when my classes
were primarily at night. The campus was about a 40-minute drive
from my home and I often found myself "writing" my assignments in
my head in the car on the way home. Having experienced lively discussions
for the previous 3 hours of class, my thoughts flowed easily and
effortlessly. Unfortunately, as it was very late when I got home,
sleep would usually overcome me before my thoughts could be written
down, and they were often hazy or completely forgotten by the next
day. This frustrated me for a while until the problem was solved
by purchasing a small hand-held tape recorder to carry along in
the car, using it to record my thoughts on the drive home. In this
way, I was prepared to take advantage of inspiration as it arose.
what you have to do to stay focused - sketch, doodle, be open and
note any thoughts or ideas as they come to you. This stage of "preparation"
is essentially brainstorming, so be receptive - don't judge any
idea before its time. (And this is not its time!). Look beyond the
obvious. Be silly. Be outrageous. You don't know, at this point,
what might work, so don't be too hasty with your assessments and
opinions. Let the ideas simmer and stew for a while. Be patient,
and don't let frustration lead to a hasty (and often unsatisfactory)
conclusion. Don't stifle the process with premature judgments or
harsh self-criticisms - trust yourself and know that the right idea
will show up at the right time. Keep yourself immersed and saturated
in the project or situation - constantly open to new and exciting
ideas. Be aware of your creative energy and note those times when
you feel most "in tune" and "in the flow."
this time of preparation, don't let yourself be obsessed or dwell
on the outcome of the process. In his book, Sacred Journey of the
Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman is told by his new teacher, Mama Chia,
that "Preparation . . . has value, even if the future you planned
never comes." Why? Because, often, our time of preparation helps
us to see the bigger picture, to recognize that all of our life
experience is relative and relevant to where we are at the moment.
We have the opportunity to develop our powers of perception. When
we consciously prepare to be creative, we give ourselves another
chance to perceive and experience ourselves as the innovative, imaginative
beings that we are, and to grow in our belief in our own aptitude
is an important first step toward accessing your powerful creative
energy. It is an active, "doing," "thinking" stage and one that
is essential for getting and keeping you immersed in the process
of creating and consciously ordering your world.
The preparation stage of the creative process is an action-oriented,
"doing" stage. It is the stage of making lists, buying and/or gathering
supplies, brainstorming and "bouncing ideas off the wall." It is
not a time for putting ideas into motion, but rather, putting oneself
into the motion and flow of the creative process.
"assignment" for this section is to choose a project or issue that
you must and/or want to deal with. Make a list of the information
and materials that might be needed to deal with your situation or
task. (I find that a ready supply of pens, pads of paper, and perhaps
some colored pencils are absolutely essential, no matter what kind
of issue I am dealing with.) If you don't have all the supplies
you think you may need, make a note to get them ASAP. If you need
to gather more information, take a trip to the library, check out
Internet sites, make phone calls, talk with trusted friends or family
members, get legal or professional help if necessary, etc.
yourself that you will jot down EVERY idea concerning your assignment
that comes to you during this preparation time - no matter how silly
or outrageous it might seem. (Remember, writing down an idea is
not a commitment to that idea.) Every day, spend some time brainstorming
(alone or with others) and write down those ideas, too. Remember,
at this point, not to judge or ridicule - just be open to what shows
up. Later on there will be plenty of time to choose and/or discard
ideas, and to put chosen ideas into action. For now, be open, be
receptive, notice when you "feel" creative (even for a moment),
think, gather, learn, and grow strong in your belief in your creative
Linda Maree 2001