McNiff begins this section with an introduction to witnessing as perceiving what is happening or as he calls it, the yin/yan of the creative expression. Witnessing is the act of being present to what is being created by others. There is the act of creating, as well as the act of being witness to what is being created. It is viewing with empathy and an open awareness to the qualities of the artistic expression. For example, if being witness to people dancing, being aware of the music, the form, the movements. Same for painting. Being aware of the person’s brush strokes, the choice of paint, etc. Too often, he reminds the reader, that others are in places of judgment about another creation. And most artists are in a place of judgment about their own artistic expressions. McNiff suggest that the practice of being witness, the use of compassionately viewing others, assists one with their own empathic views of their work as well as increase artistic mindfulness. He states that “we learn how to create with what we already have.” Most people are critical of their own creative expression. He suggests to continue to practice curiosity when witnessing one’s self or others creating. Any discomforts one might have with any creative task, can be used to guide them through the process. Paying attention to the inner critic, or judge one might experience. He points out that often blame and attributing responsibility to others becomes a way for one to avoid doing things, and may protect them temporary toward change, thereby restricting their creative growth. Another reminder about “overthinking” of any creative task. Careful attention to the “shoulding” one may use, as this often arrests any creative movement. He suggests to “clear one’s thoughts,” as these helps to bring about awareness to what is happening rather than a focus on what “should” happen.
I encourage you to buy a copy of Imagination in Action for a better understanding of your own creative process. Whether you're a master artist or beginning artist, this is an excellent book.