Understanding the creative process

We’re not planning to delve into the complexities and nuances of this vast topic. Many talented people have dedicated their lives to this understanding and often come to a Zen-like conclusion that imparts great wisdom in few words – but only to those who have already followed a similar path.

“I do not seek. I find.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Let’s focus instead on practical matters that can help both creative and business people better understand each other’s needs.

The creative process is about freedom to make mistakes, to experiment, to go down ‘blind alleys’, to discover and to reject. It’s many a manager’s instinct, indeed responsibility, to try to prevent mistakes and pursue their business as efficiently as possible (‘time is money’). But that’s often a counter-productive attitude in the creative industries.

Talent is the vital ingredient in the creative process that can help spot blind alleys or see the way forward when others only see cul-de-sacs. Talent is often no more than the ability to swiftly make the right choices. Every rejected experiment informs the end result and mistakes can often be fertile ground for the creation of something great.

“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing it properly.”

If you read that and shuddered, you’re probably locked into a paradigm of ‘command and control’ because you’re ultimately responsible for the success of the department or company you run. It’s natural to try to exert control over everything affecting that success.

However (and unfortunately) the creative process is not about control. In fact, trying to exert control can be fraught with problems and may produce exactly what the manager is trying to avoid: failure.

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” ~ Julia Cameron (Author The Artist’s Way)

It should be noted, though, that to many creative people the process is everything and the end result no more than a temporary stopping point in a longer, unending and far more rewarding process.

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