My Mind, My Maze: Five Stages of the Creative Process

As artists. we stand at the door of the labyrinth. We are packed and ready for this journey. But what we will find along the way, or at its glorious end, is a mystery.


This is the way of art. 

I am a writer and a painter. I understand the intuitive process. My partner creates designs  and takes outdoor photographs, and even with all his technology, there is the need for his natural inclination. We each find ourselves back at the entrance of our own maze every day.

Fortunately, there is magical order to the maze of our minds, and in respecting this order, we can find success!

    1. First, we are initiated with a seed-fire – and a new idea burns. This is the seed of thought that may come in a dream, a flash moment of sight along the road, a reverberating word in conversation. The idea burbles up and we hold it, a synchronicity, a solo shoe, a spot of red-orange, a wooden chime.
    2. We pour elixir upon that seed – by writing it down, or speaking it aloud. We choose to give it energy, however small it seems. The vision becomes potential.
    3. The seed germinates, sometimes for a day, sometimes for weeks. These things are not born of human time. But it is organic, growing within the artist’s internal world. It will eventually bear fruit or it won’t. Its requirements are not always within our control. Do I have time? Will I make time? Are the elements in favor of this notion?  Are there obstacles? Is it a longing, or will I strangle it dead? Intuition meets impulse, and then maybe.
    4. It begins to unravel now, and I follow. I can tell you that the delicate balance of patience and action are in a constant dance. Wait. Wait. Act. Now ease back. Pace yourself. Be thoughtful. Now don’t think at all! Then surge forth again! It sits next to me every moment, even when I am not actually doing it. I dream about it. I talk about it. I obsess. I leave it to dine, then run back upstairs and look at it some more. I strategize. I just want to…and also…  I cannot believe I just did that. The stages of artistic creation are not formulaic, not a robotic algorithm. This isn’t baking. This is art. If we are not hyper-tuned in to the fragile integrity of the spiritual, focused presence, we will stumble or fail.
    5. The failure to listen to yourself as you create internally and then externally is not a tragedy. But it is a lesson, a reminder, a tiny voice, “You are meant for this; you are here for this; you must do this; don’t give up.” Do you recall the lesson of your impatience, running down the dead end path inside your labyrinth? It is okay. Go back, and begin again.

The experience of the artist was never meant to be secondary to the mundane. The dishes, the job, the traffic – these are only first to those who neglect the artist within. Those of us who must create, to truly live, and to love life, well, we are the ones who must listen to the call and allow the daily grind to fall away when it is time to follow the torches up ahead.

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