McNiff reminds his reader creativity manifests itself through the ordinary lives of those who are willing to "find the time to create.” In examining the mannerisms of artists, these are some of the common threads connecting each one - a willingness to explore, and a daily habit of following what is curious to them, all the while they live their ordinary lives of being a homemaker, a teacher, librarian, banker, or insurance executive, etc. The difference is they are willing to dedicate themselves to the expressive imagination ...consistently! McNiff’s chapter on the many ways of creating, begins to confront the ideas society has with the assumptions made about “talent.” Talent is a label with a fixed idea. He asserts that talent is “the most crippling obstacle used against you,” placing a hierarchy in a license to create. Those who are declare talented to create are deemed worthy and unquestioned of the title. All the while, we miss other creations, never to be viewed or witnessed mostly due to a lack of training and a belief system that holds others from even beginning. We, as a society, must learn that “something significant is always moving inside..” a person. When a person is given access to materials, resources, time to experiment and play, one begins to deliver the creativity within. He ends the chapter with an offering of developing the reader’s own creative profile; a simple exercise to open the mind to view one’s own creative spirit. This may assist with an attitude shift from “I can’t” to “I can,” thereby unleashing the power of imagination to flow freely and uninhibited.
In his next chapter, he brings his reader back to “creation requires attention and complete focus.” When nothing happens, nothing happens. Creativity requires a commitment to begin, no matter where you are, and to practice daily. There will always be obstacles in the way, and one of the biggest principles a creator must deal with is -- learning to work with limits. These limits offer insight in how to remain focused, improvise with what you have, and increase the imagination muscle. There will be periods of frustration. There will be times of not knowing how to proceed. There will be blank pages or blank canvases. Yet this emptiness does not mean there is nothing. It is a space waiting for creative forces to take shape. An incubation. Creative ideas “emerge through the movement of painting or writing.” Practice and play give form to emerging creative energy. An art teacher so equivocally reminds her students that most people when making something creative, want to create something on the same level of Monet or Renoir. But what most students fail to remember is they too had “shitty work,” and we needed to begin our own. It is through this practice of doing, of seeing what works and what does not, we open our attention and develop our focus as if it was a meditation. It is through this repeated practice does one develop the skills.
McNiff offers in his next chapter a fundamental creative skill of “reframing” as in its ability to “constantly re-vision the world” as everything goes through a renewal or recycle phase. The same with any idea with looking for new ways to explore or seeing the world. Our ability to expand our creativity requires the skill to reframe situations, to change perspectives for alternative ideas. When we do not respect the different ways of viewing the world, we limit our vision and possibility, and create negative circumstances. So in other words, our greatest impediment to change is fear when one wants to protect their integrity. Rather than looking at ourselves as flexible-beings with the ability to entertain contradictory positions, one become overly attached to our ideas and opinions. McNiff gives an example of placing a rock in the middle of the floor. He instructs the reader to move around the rock to change their perspective. He suggests for the reader to begin to notice the changes in the rock from the different vantage points. He also asks the reader to imagine the rock looking at them. And he asks his readers to review all perspectives and how one normally makes interpretations of data -- to latch onto a singular interpretation rather than imagine what is possible from so many different perspectives.
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.