Effective Solopreneur: Aligning with Your Natural Creativity Cycles

I was recently reminded of the Creative Cycles and realized that it is not exclusive to artists, but everyone ~ as we are all creators of our life experiences. I share this
information with you now so you can begin asking yourself how you can use these cycles to help yourself and your business.
Are you aware of your creative cycles?
Are you taking advantage of their natural ebb and flow to enjoy creating your art, your life, your business?
About 7 years ago, when I was creating a lot of fine art watercolors, a fellow artist friend shared a small hand-bound bound book that explained the natural cycles of
creativity. To be honest, up to this point, I hadn’t even noticed that there were predictable cycles. Although, I had noticed that if I wasn’t creating in some way it was hard to
get the creative process going again.
The book was written by a woman, an artist herself, who was getting her Masters in Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, I don’t remember
he name, but this gal had noticed a creative cycle in herself and others and decided to self-publish a book about the process. She knew my friend and had given her one
of the hand-bound copies of the book, and my friend shared the book with me. So, I began reading the little book and was amazed how much it not only resonated but
explained a lot!
The author suggested there are four common stages of creativity: Gestation, Inspiration, Creation/Birth, Renewal/Rest. These cycles happen in a certain order, like seasons
of the year, but differ in their length from artist to artist, and project to project.
If you are a successful non-commercial fine artist or a writer of novels, whether you are consciously aware of them or not, you are successfully managing these cycles. If
you are just starting out or an unsuccessful artist, you may not be taking advantage of what these cycles can do for you. If you are a commercial artist, designer (interior,
web, etc.), these cycles are most-likely tied more to the projects you are working on for clients.
Here’s the breakdown of the four stages, as I recall them:
Gestation
This is the stage where things are quiet creatively, but you are feeling hopeful because you are noticing interesting experiences, gathering ideas, deciding what you want
to work on next.
Inspiration
This is the stage where you find a new idea that *excites* you. It might be a single idea, or one idea that quickly spawns many additional ideas. It may be something you
observe outside of yourself or something that pops into your mind. The topic feels juicy and pregnant with potential. You begin whittling down the ideas collected to decide
what you really want to focus upon.
Creation/Birth
This is the stage where you begin taking action toward materializing the inspired idea, from start to finish. The creator’s energy is high, and they often feel full of life and
vibrant. The work may take on a *life of it’s own*, possibly even going in a new direction not considered in the Gestation or Inspiration stage.
Renewal/Rest
This is the stage creatives enter upon completion of the Creation/Birth stage. Often, the artist has been focusing so intensely on the previous stage, that this stage may feel
like a shock. New or Inexperienced creators may find this stage comes relatively unexpectedly. Most creators might find themselves feeling low, possibly even feeling
depressed, in comparison to the high-energy stage of Creation/Birth. Doubt creeps in, and in this low energy stage, the creator begins questioning if they will ever do
anything worthwhile again. In extreme cases, a creator susceptible to addictions may do drugs or drink to deal with the low energy, doubt, worry, and fear. However, if the
artist is aware of these stages and knows *this one, too, shall pass*, they can embrace it and move through this stage relatively quickly~sometimes hours, versus days,
weeks, or months.
How Does This Relate to You?
For centuries, farmers have known to sow seeds, nurture the plants, and harvest with the seasons. Following the natural cycles makes farming easier and more productive.
The same is true for your business. When you read through these stages, above, did anything stand out for you? Did you find yourself seeing connections in your own
creative cycles?
At the end of large client projects, I often got ill or, at the very least,  needed to sleep 14 hours a day for at least a week or more. Prior to understanding the cycles, I would
often beat myself up about getting ill or needing excess sleep. I doubted myself and wondered if I was depressed, even though I felt optimistic the vast majority of the
time. Once I knew about this stage I realized it was not only to be expected, but a good thing that I could look forward to experiencing. I prepared myself for it and
arranged lots of self-care in advance knowing it would be most appreciated. As a result, this stage went from 2+ weeks down to a few days, sometimes just a weekend or
a self-care-filled-afternoon to recharge. Knowing about this stage, preparing for and embracing it made a huge difference!
I also began appreciating the Gestation and Inspiration stages more, instead of putting all of my focus on the Creation/Brith stage ~including the expectation of being in that
one stage ALL the time~I began to see how each stage had value to my creativity.
What stage would you say you are in right now?
What can you do to embrace this stage and prepare for the next one?
How can you use these stages to plan your business activities (including Marketing and Service/Product Creation) so they are fun for you, rather than forced?

I was recently reminded of the Creative Cycles and realized that they are not exclusive to artists, but everyone ~ as we are all creators of our life experiences. I share this information with you now so you can begin asking yourself how you can use these cycles to help yourself and your business.

Are you aware of your creativity cycles, or are you forcing yourself to be always “ON”?

Are you taking advantage of their natural ebb and flow to enjoy creating your art, your life, your business?

Creativity Cycles

About 7 years ago, when I was creating a lot of fine art watercolors, a fellow artist friend shared a small hand-bound book that explained the natural cycles of creativity. To be honest, up to this point, I hadn’t even noticed that there were predictable cycles. Although, I had noticed that if I wasn’t creating in some way it was hard to get the creative process going again.

The book was written by a woman, an artist herself, who was getting her Masters in Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the author’s name, but this gal had noticed a creativity cycle in herself and others, and had developed a hypothesis about how to work with the cycles. She noticed that everyone benefited by working with the cycles, rather than against them, and decided to self-publish a book about the process. She knew my friend and had given her one of the hand-bound copies of the book, and my friend shared the book with me. So, I began reading the little book and was amazed how much it not only resonated but explained a lot!

The author suggested there are four common stages of creativity: Gestation, Inspiration, Creation/Birth, Renewal/Rest. These cycles happen in a predictable order, like seasons of the year, but differ in their length from artist to artist, and from project to project.

Here’s the breakdown of the four stages, as I recall them:

1 | Gestation

This is the stage where things are quiet creatively, but you are feeling hopeful because you are noticing interesting experiences, gathering ideas, deciding what you want to work on next. This stage comes after the creator emerges from the Renewal/Rest stage.

2 | Inspiration

This is the stage where you find a new idea, or series of ideas, that really feels *exciting*. It might be a single idea, or one idea that quickly spawns many additional ideas. It may be something you observe outside of yourself or something that pops into your mind. The topic feels juicy and pregnant with potential. You begin whittling down the ideas collected to decide what you really want to focus upon.

3 | Creation/Birth

This is the stage where you begin taking action toward materializing the inspired idea, from start to finish. The creator’s energy is high, and they often feel full of life and vibrant. The work may take on a *life of it’s own*, possibly even going in a new direction not considered in the Gestation or Inspiration stage.

4 | Renewal/Rest

This is the stage creators enter upon completion of the Creation/Birth stage. Often, the creator has been focusing so intensely on the previous two stages, that this stage may feel like a comparative shock. New or inexperienced creators may find this stage comes relatively unexpectedly.

This can be a very critical stage for creators because most find themselves feeling low, possibly even feeling depressed, in comparison to the high-energy stages of Inspiration and Creation/Birth. Unprepared, doubt, worry and fear can easily creep in during this time, and in this low-energy stage, the creator begins questioning if they will ever do anything worthwhile again. They simply don’t have the energy to contemplate something new, and often feel defeated because of the low energy levels.

In extreme cases, a creator susceptible to addictions may retreat to drugs or alcohol to deal with the low energy, and/or soothe doubt, worry, and fear. However, if the creator is aware of these stages and knows *this one, too, shall pass*, they can embrace it and move through this stage relatively quickly~sometimes hours or days, versus months or years.

The creator knows they have left this stage when they find themselves entering the Gestation stage as they gently begin gathering more data and being intrigued by new ideas of theirs or other creators.

How Does This Relate to You or Your Business?

For centuries, farmers have known to sow seeds, nurture the plants, and harvest with the seasons. Following the natural cycles makes farming easier and more productive.

The same is true for your life and your business. Do you force yourself to create when you really need to rest, or try to rest when inspiration is striking? Do you honor or resist your natural creativity cycles? When you read through these stages, above, did anything stand out for you? Did you find yourself seeing connections to your own creative cycles?

At the end of large commercial client projects (Rest/Renewal), I often got ill or, at the very least,  needed to sleep 14 hours a day for at least a week or more. Prior to understanding the Creativity Cycles, I would often beat myself up about getting ill or needing excess sleep. I doubted myself and wondered if I was depressed, even though I felt optimistic the vast majority of the time. Once I knew about this stage, though, I realized it was not only to be expected, but a good thing that I could look forward to experiencing! I prepared myself for it mentally, and arranged lots of self-care in advance, knowing this stage was on its way. As a result, my experience of Renewal/Rest dropped from from 2+ weeks down to a few days, sometimes just a weekend or a self-care-filled-afternoon to recharge. Knowing about this stage, preparing for and embracing it made a huge difference for me!

I also began appreciating the Gestation and Inspiration stages more, instead of putting all of my focus on the Creation/Birth stage ~including the expectation of being in that one stage ALL the time~I began to see how each stage had value to my creativity.

Here are some questions to ask yourself now:

What stage would you say you are in right now?

What can you do to embrace this stage and prepare for the next one?

How can you use these stages to plan your business activities (including Marketing and Service/Product Creation) so they are fun for you, rather than forced?

How can you combine these stages with your knowledge of the Law of Attraction to create true synergy?

I invite you all to share your insights and thoughts below in the comments to other readers will benefit…

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27 thoughts on “Effective Solopreneur: Aligning with Your Natural Creativity Cycles

  1. Nancy, thank you for writing this post and sharing it with us. This really is a powerful insight!

    So many creative artists (and entrepreneurs) go through this cycle, and like you said, once we’re aware of it, we can prepare for it…and appreciate each stage as it comes and goes.

    This is a REALLY cool insight and I can now appreciate the creative process even more! 🙂

    Many Blessings To You!

    Jared
    .-= Jared´s last blog ..Collaboration Creates Prosperity =-.

    • Hi, Jared,

      I’m so happy you enjoyed this post and got something that will help you moving forward!

      Now that you know about these cycles, you will identify where you are and know how to support yourself in your creative processes. 😀

      Many blessings,
      Nancy

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  3. Nancy, I am so glad you shared this with me! The information is so relevant to what I’m going through right now, and this article is really helping me put it in perspective. I think I’m in the gestation period, because lots of ideas are coming to me but I don’t feel fully ready to act on them yet. I was worrying about why I didn’t seem to be taking action, but it makes sense now:)

    Thanks for this!

    • Jenna and Mary, thank you both for your comments!

      This information was helpful for me, and I’m glad sharing it now is helping you, too. Isn’t it amazing how recognizing where you are in the Creative Cycle makes it easier to move through it without judging yourself? It made me realize that being more kind to myself was actually much more effective than beating myself up!

      Many blessings,
      Nancy

  4. Nancy,
    Thank you for this article which is fantastically helpful! As a solopreneur it’s easy to apply pressure to myself constantly to always be creating. Thank you for this reminder that resting when needed is good and necessary. I’ve been needing much sleep lately and feel much better about it. Thank you!

    Love and Beauty,
    Auretha Callison
    Your Best Image Coach
    http://www.intuitionstyling.com

  5. Thank you for this article! It is very eye-opening and I’ll be sharing it with my crafty friends.

    I often find the most disruptive stage is Inspiration, even though it is a rush and a thrill to experience these new creative ideas and plans. It often leads to many sleepless nights and disrupts me when I have other obligations to complete before I can work on creating.

    It would be nice to be able to just put it on hold as opposed to crafting all night! lol
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Custom Turtle Soaps (reserved for Vanessa09) =-.

    • @Auretha Having basic information like this can really help us be more self-compassionate, which then leads to compassion for others. So, when we look at it that way, knowing and aligning with our natural creativity cycles can make our lives and the world a better place! That’s verrrrry cool 😀

      @Amanda Thank you for sharing this with your friends. I know it helped me, and it’s great to see it helping so many others, as well! And BTW, as you get to understand these cycles, you’ll find yourself better able to pace yourself and allow for gentle self-care through the cycles. 🙂

      Many blessings,
      Nancy

  6. Hi Nancy,

    Fourteen months ago, I committed to create a different Sound Alchemy event each month; I had no idea I would do that until I heard myself announce it to a group of people! What you describe is the process that I have observed each month, although not always in a linear fashion.

    Out of necessity I allow myself to totally let go of the next event during the week following the last one. That week (more or less) is my official rest time, and it is so clear and necessary that I can’t feel bad about it. I have noticed that in the process of letting go and resting, inspiration pops in–usually very gently without causing me to move into action too soon.

    Last month, the day after an especially dynamic event, I had the thought, “What can I do to top this one?” In that moment, I had an even deeper sense of being “empty” with no ideas at all. This, for me, can initially feel disconcerting.

    In my rest period, I really need to allow myself to be empty, to let go of having any ideas about what to do next. Right in the midst of that first moment of experiencing emptiness and noticing a bit of unease, I had an instant knowing that later evolved into a major part of this last event.

    The practice of rest and allowing the emptiness, is the most important part of my creative process and, as I reflect on this, it’s how I live my life. I often find myself in the emptiness/rest phase with no idea what will happen next, and eventually, just like my events, the next phase begins to unfold. Since I’m in that phase once again, I appreciate your sharing this; it’s helped me become even clearer about my own process, and what I need most right now!

    When one’s whole life is about to change, the intellect often wants to know and to act before allowing the emptiness/letting go or stillness phase, when inspiration or apparent miracles can suddenly slip in. Inspiration evokes knowing within me, and then I can clearly feel the next creation or first step(s) to it and attracting it becomes very natural and easy.

    With Love and Thanks,
    Kathleen
    .-= Kathleen Casey´s last blog ..Can Your Heart’s Wisdom Handle Real Life Challenges? =-.

    • Wow, Kathleen! Thank you so much for sharing your process and how you worked through it !! That is an *excellent* example of what many of us go through. Being so aware and conscious of your own feelings, you have allowed yourself to be *empty*, which allowed the Universe to deliver much more!

      I’ve noticed that when I ask questions like “How can I do this… or that?”, I often find my *logical brain* trying to resolve the issue. However, when I say an affirmative statement like, “Next time, I will do something even better than this or that!”, it not only feels much better ~ but the solution intuitively shows up a short while after. 😀

      Thank you, also, Kathleen for sharing this information with Shelagh!

      Shelagh, I’ve seen your postings on the New Coach Connection list ~ welcome to my blog, and thank you for your comments. It sounds like, similar to my experience, this information helped you understand yourself much better. Notice how your Renewal/Rest periods shrink as you become more compassionate with yourself through the cycles. 😀

      Many blessings,
      Nancy

  7. Firstly -thanks to Kathleen for bringing this to my attention!

    And I am so grateful because it explains the way I found myself after the creation and manifestation of Spiritus.

    And thing was – that was just the time I needed to be in action, doing all the business-stuff that had to be done.

    So there was a big conflict, lack of energy – and even questioning what I was doing.

    Had I known about this, I would have handled myself and that time very differently.

    So a great reminder for next month when the next phase of Spiritus is completed, when I’ve created all the “words” and when I know I will need to recover – but also be effective business-wise.

    Thanks!

    Shelagh

  8. Nancy, Once again, you are such a wealth of inspirational information! I love it! Thank you for your insightful look into creativity. This did resonate with me. I appreciate you so much. Warmly, Barbara

    • @Barbara Thanks for stopping by and adding your comment! It’s always great to see the #GVUcrew here, and I’m so glad this information was helpful to you! Let me know how you apply it to Deliberate Creation. 😀

      @Susan I love that you got something from the post AND the comments! One of the reasons I enjoy blogs more than articles is that the feedback adds to the content, as you mentioned with Kathleen’s insights. Please do share this with anyone you know who would benefit from understanding their own creative cycles. 😉

      Many blessings,
      Nancy

  9. Hi Nancy,

    This is an important topic which you have presented in a clear, validating way. Although I have been aware of these cycles for years, this description of them is excellent.

    I particularly like Kathleen’s point about ideas emerging during the renewal/ rest cycle. I also find this to be a significant time of receiving new ideas and inspiration. Not that I am looking for them at this time, they just seem to emerge.

    I am going to share this information with a friend who feels uncomfortable when in her “rest/renewal stage”. She only feels valuable when “doing” and although I have explained the importance of ” resting” and “being”, your cyclic description may be most helpful to her.

    Blessings,
    Susan
    .-= Susan Eller´s last blog ..It’s All About “Feeling Good” =-.

  10. Oh WOW, Nancy. I am so giddy I couldn’t sleep tonight and found my way to your blog!! This is incredible and I am so anxious to share this information with my fellow creators!! It helps so much to KNOW about these stages so you know you are doing just fine!! I often think it can be similar with mood changes. I know plenty of people who don’t officially have any problems with depression, but they can feel depressed from time to time and aren’t sure why. It is such a help when you are aware how normal that can be too so you don’t allow it to get the better of you or give you cause to think you have a bigger problem than you do. This can aid in shortening it’s time as well.

    I am pretty giddy because I am definitely somewhere in between the Inspiration and Creation/Birth stages….

    weeeeeeeeeee!
    JM´s last blog .."POOF!"

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  12. Hey Nancy!
    Thanks for sharing this excellent information. I’ve always felt that I had to learn something about my creativity which seemed very much blocked for ages. Now I think I happen to know why: I did not follow my creative cycles and mixed up the stages so the creative energy could not flow in an orderly and naturally breathing manner. A real eye-opener – I’ll try to tune in to my rhythm and see if it yields a better creative flow.

    On a second note: does this also go for ‘deliberate creation’? I created new pretty big visions for me through pray rain journaling and other loa techniques and I feel pretty exhausted and a need to rest the techniques and just let the seed of thought germinate. I feel I don’t need to do anything right now but rest and relax about the vision. I feel that I am in the renewal / rest phase after the creation / birth of the new idea / vibration. Exciting stuff!! Thanks for posting, would love to read more about how creativity works!

    • Erik, thank you for sharing your comments here!

      When your comment came in, I was meeting another deadline so I didn’t have time to fully read it. Last night, I was watching the Abraham video, “Law of Attraction in Action: Telling A New Story” and heard them address the very question you brought up in your comment.

      SO…Abe said: Continue doing any action as long as it FEELS GOOD to do so. The minute it stops feeling good or starts feeling like hard work, STOP. It’s only serving you while it feels good. When it no longer feels good, you’ve done it long enough. Find something else that feels good, and focus your attention there.

      There’s your answer to your question…which came in perfect timing when I had time to fully read your comment. 😉 I love that!

      Many blessings,
      Nancy

  13. Hey Nancy!
    That goes perfectly in line with one of my basic intentions I have been putting out occasionally (when it feels good ;)): ‘everything comes / happens at the perfect time’. This is so useful for relaxing since you don’t have to worry about many things any more, you just follow your hunches and feel goods and there you go :).

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