An important part of my journey has been learning how my creative process works, and this itself is becoming more defined and therefore easier to recognize as I leave behind the stage of mothering infants. I've shared here about my process while putting together my Solstice project (perhaps I'll update my sidebar with some links to past posts on writing and creativity), and I'd like to continue by describing what the aftermath of a project looks like for me. Perhaps you will see yourself and your process in this, too.
When the project is complete and rolled into production, I see that the creative process is like making soup. And I'm all dished out. So what happens next--after I've simmered and tasted and adjusted until a creation is just right, after I've spooned out every last drop? Instinctively, compulsively, I start cleaning the pot and gathering new ingredients.
Cleaning the pot looks like sorting through my bursting filing cabinet, shredding mounds of paper, getting my apartment back in order, and cleaning those nooks and crannies I couldn't be bothered with when my mother was visiting. It might look like I'm avoiding my work when I'm busy tidying the studio and such, but this is an important part of the process. Even I, who have some flexibility in these matters, wouldn't dream of cooking a new meal in a dirty pan, and tending to my life details (like money) and getting my working and living spaces back in beautiful states are some of the ways in which I clean the creativity pot. Photo: I couldn't resist sharing a photo of some of the goods we gathered this week at the farmer's market. (Have you ever SEEN celery this color before? I haven't.)
Simultaneously, I begin gathering--usually long before I recognize I am doing so. I start snatching up used books online or in person. I put new music on. Then on repeat. I listen to 2 episoldes of This American Life a day. I ride the subway and watch and listen to the people around me as though it is my favorite television show. New books are devoured. Craft projects multiply before their completion and turn into surprise multiple births. My brain gets stuck on words, images, colors, that I can't shape. My unconcious mind gathers, and will weave and make connections while I'm not looking. Here's a short list of what I'm gathering now.
Radio: An Illustrated Guide by Jessica Abel and Ira Glass
The Prize: A Collection of Stories by Flavia Weedn
Viva La Vida by Coldplay
How About You?
In which stage of the creative process are you right now? Are you cleaning the pot and gathering, like me, or are you waiting in a slow simmer? Are you ready to dish out something new? I'd love to hear about it.