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Being able to build + use a creative process is a common struggle I find in creatives. Not with defining the process itself, but in actually implementing a process in their work — even though it is an important + sometimes crucial part in following through with creative projects.
One of my former clients, a multi-hyphenate artist, had told me they thought using a creative process would stiffen their vision + deminish the quality of their work. They also admitted that the tool seemed like a bit of a sell out. It was a ‘to each their own’ kinda confession + I easily understood where they were coming from. So I simply encouraged them to experiment with the concept + start with shaping their personal process.
Interestingly, when we met a couple weeks later, my client had fully embraced their new creative process + were creating more fulfilling work than ever before. Venues were planned, collaborations were in motion, + projects were getting ready for publication. It felt magical.
My hope is that by the end of this article, you’ll too understand how empowering a creative process can be to one’s work. That you’ll see how following an aligned process will provide the clarity + focus requirered to keep you accountable in bringing your vision - your work - to light.
\\ read my story + see if you can relate
Excited, yet intimidated — that’s how I would describe younger me as a creative.
Before I formed my own creative process, I remember always being overwhelmed + distracted in my work. I typically would build a new process for the same kind of projects over and over, remaking it up as I went. #stressful
On the one hand, I was excited about putting into action the vision that I had in my head. But on the other, I kept circling around all of the effortful work I would have to do to make it so, + it was too much pressure for me to actually: 1) see it through, or 2) even start the damn project. I would just keep going over what steps needed to be done so I could stay in that lovely bubble of a creative daydream.
I was constantly making lists, but never taking action on them. My creativity lived in my soul’s passion only. Rarely did I find the courage to actually bring my vision into project form. I’m not sure if any of those projects were even brought to life.
Then, blessed be, I found a teacher - a practicing, professional designer - who showed me the liberation in having a creative process. Reflecting back, I wasn’t aware that I needed it, even though I hungrily adopted the concept + experimented with what practices best worked with my mindset, approach, + modalities. Like my former client, now that I’m on the other side, my creative productivity has continued to bloom with the most fulfilling, nurturing projects — my portfolio being rich in expressing the art I admire seeing in the world. #yaaaaassssss
\\ building intuitive structure
The point of a creative process is to have a defined series of steps of that will guide you from start to finish in completing projects. This is simple enough to understand, but harder to trust if it feels safer to stay in the creative daydream bubble. The thing is, the creative process is a ritual that invites muscle memory to take over so you can focus on what your intuition is channeling. It’s better to bring a version of your vision into the world than hold so tight that it can never be.
Fortunately, by building an altar - a home - for your projects, you can actually let your vision breathe, still be in touch with that delicious energy, + trust that the work will be done without any of the overwhelm. By having a dedicated space, you’re able to visit your projects regularly, checking in on your progress + tuning in with your next to-do. But first you gotta figure out what those elements are that go into your bespoke creative process.
\\ defining your creative process
There are many a way to build a creative process, + it’s best to start first with reflecting on the steps you already practice. If you’re not confident in your work + are wanting some inspiration, I suggest studying your favorite artists. Read articles or dive into some juicy podcast interviews going over how they do their work. Here are two of my favorites to add to your library:
- Everything is Copy - Film, 2015
- Jerry Seinfeld — A Comedy Legend’s Systems, Routines, and Methods for Success - The Tim Ferriss Show, 2020
Go through the prompts below for each of your modalities or project types. For instance, if you write short stories + also make video essays, the steps you’ll need to take to create these kinds of pieces will vary. Afterwards, you can build separate processes for each of your crafts or assemble a general guideline. Your process doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simplier it is, the easier it’ll be for you to embody the practice. You just want to ensure what you’re noting is detailed + specific.
- What do you need to do to prepare for a project?
- List all the steps you typically take when working through a project.
- Does your work require collaboration? How do you find collaborators + what work will they do?
- What tools do you use to get into your creative flow?
- At what point do you start to feel proud of your work + willing to share?
- What does the publishing process look like?
Take these answers + embed the steps you’ve listed into your bespoke creative process. Outline this process into a digital template, copy it down into your planner - whatever will allow you to access it easily. Eventually, following the steps themselves will become deliciously mindless, leaving your intuition free to dive into a creative flow.
Join us for a creative co-working on Twitch + let me know how working with a creative process is going for ya.