Empowered Change

Prepare to Create

by Linda Maree
Article 6 in our series ETAIN
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Linda Maree is a freelance writer, editor and is the creator of Etain Workshops®. For information on workshops and presentations eMail:
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E M P O W E R E D  C H A N G E

Prepare to Create

"For 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."

—From The Creative Spirit by Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael Ray

"Creation" 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.

The 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.

While 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"?

The 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.

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.

How do we purposefully, and with intention, access that energy and move into the creative flow? The first step is preparation.

When 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 at hand.

Jot 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.

For 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.

Do 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."

During 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 and capabilities.

"Preparation" 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.

ACTION: 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.

Your "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.

Promise 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 abilities.

Linda Maree

Writer and Editor

eMail: etainwrites@aol.com

© Linda Maree 2001
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Editor's note:

Linda's Etain series offers an opportunity for Pathfinders participants to share their successes at meeting life challenges. The concept of Etain, the hero and heroine that is woven through the stories of all cultures, is the journey we all travel.

We wish you well on the path and look forward to your participation.

© dwij 2001
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