We are creative beings. We live in a creative universe. Creativity surrounds us, and is in us – in all of us, not just the gifted few. Although at its core, creativity is a mystery, the creative process is knowable, and we can use it as a template for living a more fulfilling, aware, meaningful life. If allowed, the cycles of creativity become the enduring flow of our lives, bringing with them the freedom to live life sourced from our passions instead of our fears – from our life’s true purpose rather than from our ego’s vision of security and prosperity.

The Creative Process, How It Works and Supports Your Growth

Creativity rises up from the unconscious, moves toward definition, and finds completion in the outer world. This movement is never static and, in the early stages, it passes through enormous chaos. In fact, the early phases of the process are sometimes called “the great chaos”, or “the seething sea of the unconscious”. But chaotic as it is, this is the fertile ground that gives rise to our dreams; it is the place of gestation. Governed by mystery and intuition, possibility abounds!

Some people are at home in this chaos, but for most people the endless possibilities, the dreamlike images and churning fertility pose a huge challenge–if not an outright nightmare! This is not surprising, considering that as a culture, we have all but forgotten the mysterious, transformative power of the inner world; we focus, to our detriment, on doing, on outcomes on outer-world success. But this is antithetical to the creative process that assigns the first move to the unconscious. If you are someone who is not at home in the chaos, take heart: as surely as spring follows winter, order in the form of evaluation, critical thinking and expertise will follow the chaos.

The Spark of Inspiration

The initial spark of inspiration is creativity’s calling card. It can be an idea for a poem, sculpture, dance or concerto, a new garden, business or invention, a Halloween costume, a party or a gift; it can be a vision of you in a new relationship to others and to Self. Inspiration is non-verbal; it is the life-enhancing “Wow!” moment when the vision of what can be –of who you can be – carries you into unchartered territory and the land of possibility.

The land of possibility is the womb of creativity; it is here that you swim on the sea of the unconscious; your spark of inspiration is thrust about by the surging waves of the chaos. This land is not unknown to you. In fact, you visit it every night in your dreams. What sometimes makes it a nightmare is that your mind cannot make sense of this non-verbal world. Which is why mind – with its language, thought and need to analyze – should not be allowed entry into the early stages of the creative process. The mind is also home of the ego, that busy-body who will surely bully his way in and put your spark of creativity under the microscope of judgment! Now, you feel confused. The image that made glorious sense a minute ago feels muddy, vague and stupid – just another one of your dumb ideas. Out it goes!


That is why inspiration needs time to gestate unfettered in the unconscious, in the place of mystery, where there is only possibility, not definition. Stillness, patience, passion and risk are all part of the journey through this inner landscape. Here chaos finds form in its own time and at its own pace. If an idea doesn’t work, it floats away of its own accord; the unconscious sends up another idea, possibly close to the first, possibly its polar opposite. We see this happen all the time in nature; and you don’t hear nature giving up in despair. Imagine a plant saying, “Woe is me, my new shoots died. I should have known the sun was going to be too hot today. Why can’t I ever do anything right?” Nature in her wisdom simply lets go, sows more seeds, puts out new roots and the cycle begins again.

* After an experiment failed for the ninety-ninth time, Thomas Edison said, “Now I know at least ninety-nine ways it wouldn’t work.”
* Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he hit 714 home runs.
* You fell, a lot, when you first tried to walk, bike, skate, ski.

There is no such thing as failure in creativity. Not all possibilities pan out, but at every turn, something new is uncovered; every path followed leads to the next. Learning to welcome “failure” as a gift is a sign that you are swimming in the womb of creativity! If allowed to gestate, your creative efforts will give birth; and the outcome will rarely be the one you expected!

The Birth

The period following gestation is the appropriate time for the mind to get to work. Now you think, you organize, you focus on getting the project finished and looking good! It is a busy time, filled with its own energy. And it feels good. You are so productive. The good old mind is clicking away. At the end of the day, you think, “Ah, what a productive day I had! My creative juices were really flowing!”

The rational mind likes to take credit for being the creative genius; but as incredible and invaluable a machine as the mind is, its gears are driven by the work done during the periods of inspiration and gestation. The mind’s predominance comes at the end of the process. And because most people don’t realize that they’re laying the foundation during their time floating around in the unconscious, and during their time spent ever so slowly gathering together the exact parts needed to bring the new creation to birth, they value the third stage far more than the first two.

When the Mind Becomes the Clog

Pure mind itself is not the cause of the creative process going awry. Pure mind works in synchronization with the creative process. The real problem lays the ego, who is a tenant in the mind. The ego is outward focused. Its interests are security and success, which means getting what it wants. Ego is terrified of the seething sea of the unconscious. If you bring in the mind with its ego needs and its linear needs too soon into the creative process, you will kill your newly conceived ideas. This is akin to taking the baby out of the womb to make sure it’s turning out the way you want, or to the anxious farmer who goes out on a nice spring morning and tugs at the seedlings.

Sound ridiculous? Well, it is, but this is what happens when the mind with its drive toward definition and its predilection for judgment prematurely gets a foothold in your creative explorations. Instead of bathing in the limitless possibilities of the sea of the unconscious, you feel out of control, inspiration vanishes, and criticisms begin: “I can’t make sense of this. It will never amount to anything. I will never amount to anything. I was stupid to even come up with this idea...”

Thoughts such as these (and worse) come from the ego, and once they begin, one of two things happens:

* You believe the ego’s lies, give up and walk away from your as yet unborn creations.
* You recognize that the attack is a lie; a fear tactic well-honed by the ego to keep you on the path that the ego has determined is the right one for you.

Recognizing this self-sabotage is an enormous step in challenging your ego’s endless needs and grasping ways. This is a liberating awareness that says “Just because I’ve always done what that voice in my head tells me to do, doesn’t mean I have to continue doing its bidding. “

A Creative Perspective

Creativity is not limited to the arts or invention; these are facets in the brilliant gem that holds all of life. You are a creative being whose birth right is a life sourced from the creative flow. All we need to do is watch babies and children to taste the soul’s capacity for love, joy and creativity. Babies and children hear the song of their soul. They live in the moment and find the world to be a place of wonder and delight. As we grow up, most of us lose this connection. The outer world becomes the greater and, for some people, the only reality. When we close the door on our inner lives and deep connection to soul, our world grows smaller. Our capacity for wonder, joy and compassion diminishes exponentially. Instead of our lives, on a day to day basis, being a creative adventure, we fall victim to our woundings and the song of the soul is drowned out by the neurotic fears, needs and judgments of the ego.

You see this in people who are terminally bitter, angry and judgmental. They go through life so barbed, you find yourself avoiding them as if they had the plague. There are others, few indeed, who maneuver life’s ups and down with enviable equanimity. They know what is important to them and they don’t have to prove anything to anyone. They smile frequently. In fact, just being near them makes you feel better.

Then there are people who are tired of living life at the beck and call of their ego and their emotions. People who sense there is more to life than the body can sense or the mind can accept.

If you are reading this, you are probably one of these people. You feel within you a call to be free, but from what, you’re not quite sure. You are hungry for something that seems unavailable on the smorgasbord of your outer reality. Some of the time you feel connected to your work, family and friends, and life is good. Other times your discontent is strong. Passion and peace elude you. You are tired of blaming other people and circumstances for your loneliness, emptiness and misery. You feel adrift and you are searching. You know there is an answer. Oh, if only someone would give you the answer or point you in the right direction.

The Bad News Is the Good News!

The bad news is that no one can give you the answers. No one holds the key to your freedom and your awakening; no one but you can hear the song of your soul – not religious leaders, not teachers, not best friends or lovers, not books, not meditation. These can be pointers and light shedders, but the journey is yours. And this is the good news! Because if someone could give you the key to your true freedom, if someone else could define who you truly are, they could take it away.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This is a powerfully creative observation, one that most minds find difficult to embrace. Even when you know that claiming responsibility for your life is one of most liberating movements you can make, living with this awareness on a day to day is challenging. This is especially true in our intimate relationships, where our woundings are most readily triggered. The ego is all too quick to blame the other for our misery, or turn the table and blame you for being stupid, too needy and deserving of whatever pain you get.

The creative process offers a different lens through which we can view life’s vicissitudes. The more you experience its enduring cycles as the pattern for life’s journey, the more you silence your ego fears and feel unexpected equanimity in situations that once left you unraveled. In the space left by the departing ego stories, you begin to hear the song of your soul rising up from the creative waters of the unconscious. This song is resonant with the life’s adventure and the knowing that not birth or death, success or failure, joy or sadness is an end in itself. Nothing is static, everything changes and spring always comes.

Welcome the never ending cycles of creativity as your path and the creative process as your guide. Then you will never find yourself stuck in yesterday’s fading embers or the vapors of tomorrow’s dreams.

For more information on Emily and her services please visit: http://www.creativesoulworks.com/article_creative_cycles_inner_growth_sg...

Author's Bio: 

Emily Hanlon is a Creativity Coach and a WritingCoach. Her work as a creativity coach is based on her belief that the multifaceted journey of creativity is not limited to the arts, but nurtures life at its most profound depths. The creative journey is a template for leading a more creatively fulfilling, aware and meaningful life.

As a Writing Coach, Emily works with all levels of writers, from beginners to novelists. She demystifies the writing process with her two pronged approach of teaching technique and unleashing creativity. In addition to private coaching, she offers, workshops, retreats, TeleSeminars and TeleWorkshops.

She is also s a novelist, and has seven works of fiction, including the bestselling novel, Petersburg. And a book on writing, The Art of Fiction Writing or How to Fall Down the Rabbit Hole Without Really Trying. She has been published in Writer's Digest Magazine. Her websites are www.creativesoulworks.com/sg.htm and www.thefictionwritersjourney.com

Additional Resources on Creativity can be found at:

Website Directory for Creativity
Articles on Creativity
Products Creativity
Discussion Board
Emily Hanlon, the Official Guide to Creativity