a drawing of a series of little blobby orange creatures drawn on white paper

Creativity as process not a product

I think that one of the big challenges with relaxing with your creativity is the idea that you actually have to make something.

Sure, creative people make things all the time and it’s fun to have a tangible result for your efforts, the product is not the point.

You can be creative in service of making a specific thing and/or you can be creative in service of your own well-being.

And it’s very useful to distinguish between the two.

Making Some THING

You probably have lots of projects and hobbies that result in a finished item that you can enjoy/decorate with/sell.

When we use our creativity to make a specific thing we get to have two types of experiences – the enjoyment of the process and the enjoyment of the result.

I like making specific things for specific purposes and I have fun with the processes involved in creating them.

But the things I make are not the sole purpose of my creative practices.

Creativity doesn’t have to just be about the things you make.

In fact, in some cases, focusing on the result can make it very hard to be creative because it dredges up all kinds of ideas around the quality of the thing you make and judgement about how you are spending your time.

Creativity For Its Own Sake

So, I like to encourage people to see the value in the creative process, in being creative for creativity’s sake.

You can draw for the act of drawing.

You can write for the act of writing.

You can collage for the act of collaging.

The process itself has value for your brain, for you as a person, for your well-being overall.

It is kind of the creative equivalent of the difference between going for a walk because you like going for a walk and going for a walk for exercise.

Both are valuable and they can be happening at the same time but they don’t have to.

And knowing whether you are walking for exercise or walking just to walk is really useful.

When you go for a walk for its own sake, you may not be “increasing your cardio endurance” or “getting that heart pumping” but you are still doing something good for yourself.

Your muscles are still being used, you’re still getting fresh air, you are getting yourself out of the your normal space, you are seeing new things and hearing new things and possibly interacting with other people. That’s all good for you even if you aren’t push to expand your exercise capacity.

When you are being creative for its own sake you are practicing using the muscles of creativity.

You are engaging your brain in something different. You are stepping out of your ordinary tasks and focusing in a different way. You are using your hands or your brain or your words in the service of your your own well-being.

Just like your walk doesn’t have to be about exercise, your creativity doesn’t have to be about a product.

And as long as you know which type of creative practice you’re engaging in (and you try not to judge yourself for not doing the other) the process is going to be good for your brain.

Go Ahead And Create

So, I dare you to get a little creative today.

Doodle in the margins.

Dance a little while you make lunch.

Make up a story as you drive.

Write a letter you’ll never send.

Assemble the weirdest outfit you can from your ordinary clothes.

Have fun with the process of creating – no matter how things end up.

Next week, I’m leading a Relaxing Creativity workshop based on these ideas. *

We’ll be working on some little projects but they are really only a container for the process – the results are besides the point!

After all, without those ‘containers’, we would spend all of our time trying to decide what to do instead of just doing it.

And I really want you to have the experience of sinking right into your creative practice.

*This one is in person but I will be leading a similar session online in May. If you want to join me in May, go ahead and register, just be sure to pop your email address into the question about the May workshop.

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