I have been wanting to talk about this for a few weeks, and today, the timing feels right: let’s explore the creative cycle.
Many things in life operate in cycles. Creativity does, too. In this case, as in many others, by identifying a creative cycle we are simply naming clusters of symptoms and behaviors that tend to occur together to understand them better. That means of course there is variation from person to person, and that the naming is more for communicating and understanding than diagnosing or labeling.
Anecdotally, I have observed the following tendencies and stages to be roughly cyclical in my creative clients:
Building up of energy
Making plans, generating ideas and designs
Completion and editing phase
Sharing and excitement phase
Deescalation of energy
Lowered creative energy/creative block.
This cycle also follows the model of diametrically opposed traits we looked at a few posts back (remember the pair of high/low energy?) Speaking of, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi also has his five stages of creativity:
Preparation (becoming immersed/interested in a topic or problem)
Incubation (subconscious marination when we make connections and work on the problem)
Insight (“AHA!” Moment)
Evaluation (is your newly birthed idea worth following)
Elaboration (the most time and energy is spent here- where you do the creative work)
Though named and grouped differently, both models generally outline the same cycle: germinate, build, produce, disseminate and ebb.
Thinking about this, take a moment to look at where your process might fit into these cycles. Have you been producing lots of ideas and work without a distinct direction? You may be generating/incubating. Landed on a concept but not sure how to produce? Maybe you have your idea and insight and need to push into creation to move forward.
If you know where you are in the cycle, you can more easily identify what to do next. You begin to understand and flesh out the nuances of your own creative cycle and therefore how to best operate within it. Start with the basic framework and let it percolate- what is your creative cycle like? Where do you spend the most time within it? What might you want to change about how you move through it? Come sit in my chair and lets explore, problem solve and keep you creating!
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is a Creativity Coach, Creativity Counselor and Professional Artist in Sykesville, Maryland. She provides Online Creativity Counseling in Maryland and Virginia, and Online Creativity Coaching throughout the USA, Canada and the UK.
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.