Knowing your creative process is really about knowing yourself. Taking the time to engage in self-reflection is a powerful way to cultivate your creativity—and to live a fulfilling, meaningful life.
The article includes a list of questions to help you explore your creative process:
- What is your ideal working environment? Home, library, cafe?
Because of my pain, I have to write on my laptop which limits me to home. That said, I did get a keyboard with my new tablet and whilst I don’t think I’ll be able to type for long it might open up public spaces. I used to write everywhere and anywhere, back when I could write by hand. When it comes to art and craft, because of the materials involved, at home is generally best although I have started doing a little bit of art in public. This week for example, I did some work in my art journal using watercolour pens and a water pen whilst I was having coffee.
- What do you see, smell and feel in this ideal environment? Firstly, my sense of smell is awful so it’s not a sense I really notice much… There would be little details of beauty, flowers or the way the light shines on the trees. I like the outside but I am always cold so somewhere inside with a good view would be best. I would feel safe, safe enough to actually create and write. There would need to be a very precise number of people – too many and I’m overwhelmed, too few and I feel like I’m under a microscope.
- Do you need to be surrounded by inspiration? Or do you prefer super simple, even stark spaces to create? Probably somewhere in between. Too messy and I find I get stressed and anxious, unless it’s a work in progress kind of mess where I know where everything is. Too stark and I feel stiffled. I have a table which has my art stuff and my laptop on. There’s lots of materials and bits of paper and it looks a mess most of the time but I tend to know where everything is and because I live alone (and my cleaner and carers have strict instructions not to touch my table) it works.
- Do you prefer to work in silence? Do you need a playlist or white noise? I need some noise. Nothing too specific otherwise I get distracted by lyrics or the mood of the music. The sound of a cafe would be good I think. Although not a noisy cafe. Loud noise makes me anxious and on edge.
- Do you prefer to have deadlines? Do they motivate or paralyse you? I don’t know. To be honest because I am an amateur artist and writer I’ve never really had deadlines. The only deadlines I’ve really had is when I’m working on something I want to gift to someone and I tend to allow plenty of time for that.
- Do you need weeks of lead time? I do find that I will have an idea and it will mull around in the back of my mind for a while until it becomes more concrete. That said, I also have days where an idea comes more formed and I jump right in.
- Do you prefer to work slowly or quickly? Maybe it depends. If it does, what does it depend on? I have to work slowly because I have chronic hand pain. A lot of my art is made up of layers. I can do a bit, then rest, then a bit more. This is a technique I have developed to overcome my desire to keep working and then ending up not able to do anything for days…
- What tends to distract you, to take you away from your work? Pain, low energy levels and depression are the main reasons I stop creating. Lack of inspiration is another. I also find I am more likely to procrastinate with writing than with art.
- What’s your favourite part of the creative process? Getting ideas and feeling in flow. I also love using recycled materials, rubbish, in my art. I find delight in making books from amazon packaging or using empty sellotape rolls to print with.
- What challenges do you run into? Time, pain, energy, lacking inspiration…
- What are some solutions for these challenges? For inspiration I find its creating regularly. Creating creates creativity. So good habits are important. When it comes to my art journal, I tend to do a page most days but I’m careful not to insist on everyday otherwise if I miss a day I feel bad and the more days I miss the harder it is to go back. I’m still working on solutions when it comes to writing but I schedule time into my diary and try not to procrastinate my way out of it. I also only write for 10-20 minutes at a time. Partly because of pain but also because otherwise I find I write a lot and then stop when I get stuck. This means when I come back to write more, I am still stuck and it’s so much harder to then get started. I’ve also had a few projects on the go and from the start decided they would be long term. This means I always have something to dip into.
- What are your least favourite ways to work? Hmm… I don’t know! Maybe under strict instructions? I don’t like being told what to do. I’ve been doing an online course this year and some of the videos are giving inspiration and techniques but others have been very prescriptive, down to which supplies you use and colours. I don’t want to make something that’s already been made…
- When are you most energised and inspired? I don’t really know.. I guess when my pain levels are managed and my fatigue isn’t too bad…
- When are you in the zone? What does being in the zone feel like? What kinds of conditions help you enter your zone? Again, I don’t really know. I think a lot depends on pain and energy levels but being surrounded by inspiring and interesting objects as well as doing things like the online wanderlust course help. As I’ve said before, creating creates creativity. The more you do, the more you get inspired.
- Why do you create? I create to process things and express myself. I create because it’s therapeutic. I create because seeing something woven by your hands is a powerful feeling. I create for the satisfaction of making.