I have a huge appreciation for Shaun McNiff’s work on the creative process. From his works of Trust the Process, Art Heals, and Imagination in Action, and as well as with many other authors' descriptions of the creative process, all of these authors have reinforced my own theory of what the creative process is …
In this book, McNiff reinforces each of these points. TIME is the dominating factor for any creative process. We created paints that dry faster. We want to speed up the process to get on to the final product… Before 1816 if one wanted a picture of themselves, one had to make an appointment with a portrait artist. Now we have cell phones with camera’s inside them. Trust the Process gave more definitive answers with regards to time, with an emphasis on every thing takes a practice. Time is what most beginning creators have difficulty with as McNiff stated throughout his book the old beliefs one has about creating. It takes time to practice learning how art materials work, writing music notes, creating dance steps, or writing sentence structures for clarity. All require the discipline of a daily practice to experiment, a willingness to explore what works and what does not. And if one IS a seasoned artist, to review one’s environment as though they were a stranger, seeing it with fresh eyes. If something does not work, to experiment. To try new materials. To look for other resources in assist with creating. McNiff emphasized creating with what one already has at their disposal. He discussed how criticism, no matter whether provided by one’s self or others, is to be used to see what works and what does not. That’s it. It’s not to be misused as a person is a failure because they did not create a masterpiece. In several chapters, he reminds one to be open to the ambiguity of the creative process, through a willingness to play and explore, letting it guide one’s discovery of what expression is to be delivered to the world. Trust the process: creativity has the intelligence to lead. Every experience has something to offer. And just because one thing shows up, does not mean we get to assume success will follow. While McNiff did not discuss directly in this book, the creative process has an end. Everything we create, at some point comes to a grand finale.
Why I love this book - I see the creative process as a template for understanding one’s life. Everything takes time. We might not always have access to all the materials and resources to create our lives as we think they should be. Learning how to use what we ALREADY have access to, and being open to exploring new ways of learning with whatever shows up. Every experience we have becomes a part of our learning about being a spiritual being having a human experience. We are a work in progress. And learning to trust this process, especially when old messages resurface reminding us of our failures. Learning how to accept what is, no matter what shows up. And just because I think my life should be a certain way, I’m learning that it is going they way it is. My task is to begin a daily practice with a focus cherishing what does show up, as at some point, there will be an end.
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.