Shaun McNiff begins the introduction with a description of how hungry people are for creative expression and when they give themselves permission to create are amazed by the outcome. He outlines his book, Trust The Process, as a guide for those seeking the “ways” of the creative spirit -- in the many forms of disciplines such as painting, writing, movement, drumming, and performance. He alerts his reader to “the ability to relax in periods of uncertainty and to trust that the creative intelligence will find its way.” As well as to be open to the ambiguity when in an absence of creative resources. Trust the creative process knows where it needs to go. This book will expand the reader’s perception of creativity with a way to review artwork as resting places of generated ideas. The author suggests these new ways of seeing are “guides and sources of illumination,” to keep not only the beginner going once they start creating, but also to assist the experienced artist with a more concrete practice. McNiff ends the introduction with a broader brush stroke in understanding the creative process as a deeper method of reflecting on living a creative life.
Creativity has many avenues in which to present itself into the world - music, painting, dance, the written word… ultimately creativity is just an idea manifesting itself no matter whether its in a concert hall, museum, kitchen or in an office. Yet the reader is reminded how our society likes to put creativity into specific boxes ... give it labels such as artist, musician, or chef. And along with these specific labels, we have different views of what creativity is and what it is not. McNiff uses the next 3 chapters to review the unknown, the emanation, and the mistakes and distortions of the creative process.
He opens his first chapter with the difficulties presented within our society about what constitutes art. A simple way of understanding creativity is that our creations are only limited by our consciousness. Humans create on a daily basis for survival. Yet society continues with placing limits on who are creators and who are not. McNiff states that everyone creates daily. Since we all are creators, it takes a mindshift from our socialization to risk experimenting within any creative endeavor, as well as letting go of the notion that we have to know the results before we begin. Trust The Process sets the framework of how to prepare for the creative rituals. Such as with a child learning to read, the same process cannot be explained, only trusted over focused exercises, preparation, and practice. McNiff equates the same for a creative process. The largest issue is TIME, as it is part of our humanness to want quick results. Learning patience with the process, and the patterns each person might replicate without an understanding of the process, usually contributes to a “quitting before beginning” outcome.
Several old stories continue to be replicated within our society such as: 1) art has to be profitable, 2) any creation is a waste of time or resources if it’s not made by a master artist, and 3) there are only a few that are considered master artists. McNiff asks his readers to image if these same stories were applied to education. We more than likely would no longer have elementary or high schools. While we might be able to teach art through learning different techniques, teaching creativity looks much different. Everything depends upon the quality of attention and attitude we take to which we apply to our perceptions. It is with the flexibility - the ability to change direction, one opens oneself to the expansive discovery within a creative process. In other words, just try it. Step into the unknown. Play. Experiment. Make no judgments. See what comes from your willingness to engage with creativity.
I encourage you to buy a copy of Trust the Process for a better understanding of your own creative process. Whether you're a master artist or beginning artist, this is an excellent book.