Snapshots: Stages of Creative Process

The creative process is, fundamentally, an organizing force.

As science shows us, the creative force produces patterns that underlie all physical things. The creative process can be imagined as an invisible spider, weaving an endless web throughout all creation. Carl Jung envisioned our individual unconscious as born stocked with patterns of shared memory inherited from collective cultures of the deep past. These patterns are revealed, he noted, through our dream images, creative expressions and behavior.

The patterns of the creative process

form the supporting structure for all learning, innovation, strategy and implementation. They generate all personal and collective power, for good or ill. The creative process calls into being what has yet to exist.

We are not alone.

Most highly creative people speak of experiencing a “high-low” pattern in the creative process. Universal themes lend insight into our unique relationship to these highs and lows. This empowers us to harness what works and to let go of what doesn’t. Whether we’re creating a story, a business, a portfolio, a new cure for disease, a rocket ship or a film, understanding the common joys and pitfalls of creating can help tremendously in building momentum and efficiency in our own personal work habits.

Who is responsible?

Our Greek and Roman ancestors claimed that invisible spirits were responsible for the resulting brilliance or failure of the project in question, not the actual person who created it. It was only later, during the Age of Reason, that creative brilliance was identified with its human creator. Some believe this conceptual transfer has produced a can of contemporary worms regarding personal fears of success, failure and responsibility. Interesting question…

The highs of creating

and the success or failure of projects do carry significant risks. The troubled genius, high and raging at the moon or hiding under covers, is often how our creators are still characterized. Though many gifted writers and others have lived this profile, it seems a tragic and avoidable scenario in need of change. Even the most gifted creators can avoid careening off pedestals into pits, if their powers are managed in healthy ways. I believe that a balanced and fulfilled life hardly destroys brilliance, but rather empowers it.

There is mystery in this process.

While the entity theories of our Greek and Roman ancestors might seem bizarre, we must admit that most of us, from time to time, experience (or witness) the creative process as a transporting and transcendent phenomenon–as if born to another world. This is one of the most fascinating, elusive, confounding, and even dangerous aspects of creating.

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*Essay by Barbara Bowen of - the definitive source for artists and creative careers in transition. Contact Barbara to empower your creative process and for help with your career goals. She would love to hear from you.*