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?
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…