We all have our distinct ways of doing what we do. Creators do things entirely differently. Our processes are personal and unique to us. There are similarities, of course, but I’d like to look at the differences just now.
The differences make the diversity I’ve mentioned before. Nature uses diversity, as do art and creativity. It’s what distinguishes you from another; as a creator, it’s part of what gives you your unique voice. Ultimately your “how,” which is unique to you, makes you stand out.
As Chase Jarvis says in his book Creative Calling: “You can’t stand out and fit in at the same time.”
I wholly agree, so our differences are vitally important in creating the diversity and richness of human creativity. How you do what you do is unique to you; observing yourself at work will give you insight into what kind of creator you are.
I believe you can learn about processes and their stages, but fundamentally as a creator, you have a unique way that works best for you. It can change through the years and in various stages of your career and creative endeavors. Still, it will be unique to you. Being aware of how you do what you do is essential to understanding what you may be capable of and how you want your work and yourself as a creator to evolve.
When you work with other creators, either in collaboration or accompaniment, which I’ve been doing a lot of in the past twenty years, you have to cultivate humility in your approach. As a creator, this has been a fantastic exercise; it started from collaborating with different people on our creative processes and then working with others on theirs.
Accompaniment is based on a profound listening and observation – to best distinguish two things, really: where the person you are working with is, when you start working together, and where they want to be when your work is complete.
Once you’ve distinguished these two points, the starting and end points, you can explore what the process will look like.
The creator will not necessarily know this in advance. Some creators, like myself, explore as they go. Don’t take me wrong; I write and plan everything, I do – as much as I can. Perfectly aware, though, that my process is primarily exploratory and that my plans, as elaborate as they may be, are mere ‘kindlines’ for myself to be able to go back to, if I find I am completely ‘lost in the woods,’ which rarely happens.
So, often, it’s challenging to do the creative work and observe yourself simultaneously. It may take years, and a lot of good productive – creative time can be wasted along the way. That’s why working with others is so valuable. When you work with others, you see yourself more clearly. This happens in many ways; here are 3 of the main ones:
Mirroring – Mirroring is the behavior in which one person unconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another. (from Wikipedia), this makes it easy to see yourself in another.
Reactions and feedback – the way people react to you in the collaborative process, the feedback they give to your ideas and input, gives you an idea of how your work is perceived and how people relate to it.
Direct observation and analysis of how you work are sometimes part of an accompaniment process. If the person I work with is open enough, it can be very useful for them to understand how they do what they do. They can use this information to create better working habits, or consciously work to change their ways if they find they do not serve them anymore.
Knowing how you create is crucial for a better understanding of what is required for your creative endeavors. You work better with yourself, eliminating frustrations and unnecessary upsets and setbacks, and you also recognize your patterns. You can take them with humor, go about changing them or make requests to collaborators or your team for help and better results.
Ultimately knowing how you create makes you a better creator, a better co-creator, team member or leader, and a better human being all around.
As ancient greek philosophy tells us: “Know thyself,” a dictum we should all live by, as Aristotle said – that’s the beginning of all wisdom.
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