In order to exhale, you have to breath in. It’s time to be inspired, to do research, to explore and to engage with the world with an open and curious mind.
In the beginning there was light...and then something changed. A catalyst is a person, condition or event that causes a change or reaction. In a story, the catalyst sends the hero on a quest for change. Similarly, the catalyst is the spark that starts the journey.
Now cut down your options. Whether you’re at the beginning of your creative journey, in the planning stages, or lost in the middle; you will need to make thoughtful decisions. Creativity is as much about choosing between things, as it is about making things.
Now make it better. But remember, critique and analysis can happen too early and lead to procrastination and creative blocks. Ideally, the creator should be the one to determine when it’s time to use this tool. Revision shouldn’t stop the creative process, nor should it suck all of the joy out of it.
Sometimes you just can’t do things on your own. That’s when you need support from allies. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others when you’re flagging and let them lift you up. And remember that support can come in all sorts of guises.
When you’re in the creative flow, you enjoy the process. Flow is a balance between challenge and easy. Flow feels effortless. When you are deep in flow, time, criticism and anxiety about the end result are all temporarily suspended.
Time is an essential aspect of creativity and of life. Each piece has a rhythm that is unique, and the timing of your project’s big reveal can impact its success. Whether time is linear or circular, in or out of our hands, we cannot escape its pull.
Once you’ve developed some skill, then you play. Once you’ve learned the rules of the game, then you play. Be silly and laugh. Approach things like a beginner and remember what it feels like to be a child.
Just keep going. Your project is going to require some effort to complete. Like the final stretch of a marathon, you might feel like you can’t take another step. But you must breath deep and keep running. Experience teaches you when to persevere with an idea and when to call it quits.
Intuition rules the heart and the gut. She embraces ambiguity and is a quick thinker and decider. Intuition is all about making connections between things. She sees patterns where others see chaos. And she is happy to work hand in hand with Logic if you let her.
Sometimes the best thing you can do when you are blocked or frustrated is to hit the pause button. Sometimes you need to put your project on the back burner and turn down the heat. Sometimes you need to start over. And sometimes, floating can be as exhilarating as flying.
When you choose a creative life, you must have compassion, for yourself, for others, for your work and for the planet. Compassion is particularly important when you are confronted with your own mistakes and weaknesses, and of course those of others. So treat yourself with kindness and understanding in the face of failure and setbacks.
Logic is calculating and sincere. A real stalwart. He can also be quite the curmudgeon and is very risk adverse. But sometimes logic, analysis and linear thinking is precisely what you need.
Practice roots your creativity so that ideas can flower. This part of the journey is about learning, making mistakes, challenging yourself, and building skills. Practice is the foundation for growth.
It’s time to breathe out and actually create something. Stop planning. Stop researching. Stop procrastinating or percolating. Exhale and begin. Write that first draft. Throw down some paint. Get moving.
Joy tempers the cynicism of logic. Joy creates the ideal conditions for optimism to flourish. And in the center of a dark universe, joy shines a light.
When you look down on a landscape from the window of an airplane, it’s often unrecognizable. Patchworks of green, gray, and brown divided by bright snaking lines. But as you descend, those abstract patterns become ordinary things. Trees, houses, rivers, fields. When you are stuck, sometimes a change of perspective can lead to inspiration.
It’s time to outline, sketch and map. A plan primes you to pay attention to what’s important. A plan flags up potential problems. And most importantly, a plan visualizes in a low-stakes setting.
Orphaned as a baby, Courage is part hawk, and a huntress. She tells you to feel the fear and do it anyway; to have the courage of your convictions; and to jump off the cliff safe in the knowledge that you will fly.
A paradox is turtles all the way down. It’s a statement, person or thing that is contradictory or opposed to common sense, yet is perhaps true. The prefix para means "beyond" or "outside of" and the verb dokein means "to think". During the creative process, you sometimes need to challenge your usual way of thinking.
Doorways, wells, windows, portals, wormholes, rabbit holes and caves are all physical thresholds. In stories, they are links between worlds, actual spaces that the hero must pass through in order to arrive at a new symbolic life. Now is the time to explore potential ideas and embrace blue sky thinking. To be ‘in between’ for a while.
Do you turn right, left or go back? Is that a fork in the road or a trick of the light? It’s difficult to tell because it’s dark and gloomy and you can’t see the wood for the trees. When you are surrounded by darkness, look for the light. And when you are lost, use your creative compass to guide you towards your true north.
There be dragons ahead. Do you wake up at night scared of the shadows? Are you afraid to move forward because you SWEAR there are monsters right around that bend? It’s time to face the danger with a brave face and slay those beasties. After all, the monsters always follow, but they’re really not THAT scary.
Sometimes you simply must have patience. Like a stone statue long forgotten by its makers. A statue that watched kings come and go, and witnessed wars and floods and fires. It still stands. It is patient. Stars patiently deliver their light to us here on Earth. And the universe waits patiently for all the stars to finally go out.
You...are...done. Now roll the dice and put your work out there! How do you know when you are done? Stop if more fussing makes it worse. Stop if you’ve said what you intended to say. Stop if you’ve reached a deadline. And remember that chance plays a part in success and failure.