4 Steps of Creativity (like a Hamster Ball)

Brian Burchik —  April 16, 2012 — Leave a comment

In starting #LiveFully and writing more, I have been confronted with fears, doubts, and anxieties along the way. My assumption is that many artists and creatives deal with similar emotions as they seek to create art. As silly as it sounds, just posting a blog online can bring a bit of self doubt, as you become vulnerable to the critique of others. Thoughts pop up like, “No one cares what you are trying to say” or “there are way more gifted people who can say this better”.

In these months of creating, I’ve felt kind of like a hamster on a wheel, spinning around the same 4 step cycle over and over again. The breakdown in the analogy is that the process is moving forward, unlike the wheels that stay stationary. Perhaps it’s more like being a hamster in one of those clear plastic balls. The cycles are constant, but there is productive, creative movement forward.

Here are 4 steps in this creative cycle:

1. Inspiration – whether it’s during a run, sitting on the toilet, or driving somewhere, the inspiration comes. All human beings have creative potential because all human beings are made in the likeness of the ultimate creative- God the Creator of all. Beyond that, all followers of Christ are empowered with the very Spirit of God, which reveals thoughts of God and inspires with ideas from God. (1 Cor. 2.10-12)

This inspiration comes at any time, and today’s technology makes it easier and easier to capture. I personally love Evernote for this. The inspiration step is fun, as ideas are birthed and passion is stirred.

2. Action – after receiving the inspiration, we are entrusted with the responsibility to create with action. This step is where the ideas are brought into reality- whether it’s writing, painting, recording music, whatever. This is hard work, and there will be moments when we have to choose to persevere and make it happen.

This phase is both exciting and excruciating, delightful and full of discipline. Ask any artist who has created something meaningful and they will tell you it wasn’t all magic, it was also hard work.

3. Anxiety– this is the phase that I’ve been the least accustomed to handling in writing and creative efforts. After receiving an idea and acting on it, there seems to be unavoidable waves of anxiety that follow. At this point the creative juices are quenched, and the big picture vision is no where to be found. Thoughts like “you’ll never actually finish this project” or “someone is going to beat you to this” start to creep in.

All of a sudden it feels as if the only option is to take matters into my own hands, and force the creative project along. I’m tempted to forget that the reason I even started this project was because inspiration came from a source outside of myself. God revealed the creative ideas, but now it feels like I have to chain them to myself and fearfully progress before someone else steals them. These steps don’t always occur in this order, and anxiety seems to come at a number of different points in the process.

4. Surrender (aka giving it back to the One that gave it in the first place). The waves of anxiety are seemingly unceasing-yet there is a very easy answer to calming the storm. Let go and surrender the project to God. Time and time again we have to take a deep breath and just let go of control.

There are all kinds of things that could happen- good and bad- but freaking out is never the best response. We must trust God, and humbly release all our efforts and ideas back to Him. He is the ultimate One that we live to serve. This step can be difficult, as letting go of control usually is. Yet there is nothing better a creative can do to move forward in the creative process.

Artists that fail to surrender their gifts to God easily get trapped in their own hearts and minds, producing inner turmoil. But as we give it back, the passion and inspiration returns. We remember the bigger vision for our lives, and most importantly, the One for whom we ultimately create.

How have you experienced this cycle in your own life? If you are in the middle of a creative project, what step are you in? Share your own experiences with us.

Brian Burchik

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This post was by Brian, a leader seeking to know the "why" behind the "how"