Finding My Process

Creative process is a really interesting subject to me. All creatives seem to have one, but the only commonality is that there is one. The details vary considerably.

“Find your own way,” seems to be the imperative. Find out by doing and then reflecting on the doing. Maybe then you can extract some rules or guidelines, some insight into how you operate.

What are the conditions for creativity? When and how does it most readily come about? What does a process look like?

To be a ‘creative’ often means that you are by necessity a student of the creative process. Follow, don’t lead. That’s mine, a low-res version anyhow. Get out of my own way. Let the Muse work, or play. And don’t concern myself with outcomes, especially at the point of creation. Be the flow. Reflect and review later.

I take what I’m given, because this process isn’t directed by me. It feels a bit cheeky really, like I’m some sneaky fucker who finds a manuscript and passes it off as his own. Like that, the Muse is handing me the words to pass off as my own. But here’s the secret… I and the muse are one.

Years ago now, I remember getting into the studio in my apartment in the U.S. Day one of “being an artist”. I made a short video (don’t know where that went) about my new beginning and my plan-less plan. I was aiming to see what would happen when I made art my occupation, my daily routine, my lifestyle. It turned out to be a pretty interesting and productive few years. I never really ran out of things to do or make or explore. Ideas were abundant and prolific. They just kept coming, fuelled by unhindered curiosity.

That life passed but I’ve found myself ‘at the page’ these last few years. I don’t know if it’s my first, best medium but it serves to satisfy my creative urge. I just need to be careful to keep my right-brain refreshed. It’s funny, I often think I should be reading more to provide myself with fuel for the page. But as I sit here I wonder if it’s the open, unstructured wholeness that’s the real food for thought. So walks on the beach and hot chocolate on a bench and hanging out with the gulls are the appropriate counterpoint to this.

Now, to do this I need to follow my rules. So far I have 9. They are there for a reason. The rules are a codification of my observed writing process. I didn’t just pull them out of my arse. They are the articulation of how I actually work. So to follow the rules is really to align myself with my own naturalness. Setting out the conditions conducive to inspiration.

1. Turn up at the page

2. Sit without inputs

3. Wait for the inspiration

4. Do the work/write it down

Sometimes a sense of unease, discomfort or agitation can arise in my process from what is usually a failure of waiting. This can lead to me seeking out ‘inputs’ to giddy the process along, instead of returning to the patient receptivity of 2 and 3.

Patient waiting is another way of saying ‘abide’, rest in the present moment. Turn attention to its source.

I can’t ‘want’ anything particular at the page. I can only wait and respond. Of course I’ve tried a different way of writing like trying to write 500 words on some particular subject I’ve chosen. But it doesn’t really work for me. And that’s okay. It’s very easy to try to be someone else.

I know people who can create on demand, according to a brief. But I’m only motivated to create from my own naked inspiration. Of course it’s very easy to be drawn into self-judgement in this regard. To say that I should or must be able to produce work on request or demand.

Which brings me to rules 5 and 6. “Anything goes” and “do it your way”. I have to do it my way. Always have, always will. And I can either treat that as a blessing or a curse.

I guess my process is a lot like fishing. Sitting by the riverbank, rod in hand, waiting for a bite. There’s nothing you can do to make it happen. You simply have to turn up, sit, and wait. And if you get a bite you reel it in. Yeah, writing is like fishing. Isn’t that what David Lynch said? Catching The Big Fish was his thing.

Bottom line, I can’t take possession of any of this. I’m just showing up. And words come or they don’t. And even if they don’t on any given day, I still have the gift of my own peaceful silent nature to rest in.

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