Untitled by Cindy Trawinski, hand reaching

“The moment in between what you once were and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.”  

This quote from Barbara de Angelis describes the edge between our ordinary identities and perceptions, and the places inside ourselves where we step into something new and yet to be.

How amazing and grateful I was to read these words!  In my creative process, I have had a long-standing fascination with the experience of riding the edge between what is known and what is unknown. In talking about it, I have been able to point to it, but never captured it so eloquently.

As a psychologist, I am curious about how we learn to find and ride that edge in our daily lives as well as in explicitly creative pursuits. In 2011, I completed a 10-month study of my creative process, journaling as well as video taping my painting process to learn more about these experiences. The results of that study are documented in an unpublished thesis, Who or What Creates?

As a culture, I don’t think we teach our children much about accessing their creativity or how to find these in between moments.  In fact, we don’t even have a way to mentor artists, musicians, playwrights, poets or dancers to access their creativity.  Instead, we leave it up to chance, trial and error or, sometimes, intoxicants or dangerously extreme behavior.  Then, when the creative among us angst, suffer or appear dangerously self-destructive, we write it off to the woes of those who choose to be “struggling” artists.

But creativity is as much an attitude as a destiny, skill set or in-born talent.  We all have the ability to shift our attitudes and take a creative approach to life tasks, whether they be parenting, folding clothes, raking leaves, grocery shopping or even cleaning a desk drawer or closet.  In fact, it is often in the smallest ways that creativity reveals itself.

I have found that learning to follow the creative process inside yourself requires four things:

  1. taking small risks,
  2. having an ability to suspend judgments,
  3. following subtle impulses and
  4. allowing for unpredictable outcomes.

Are you ready to take a chance and move into the unknown? Can you find ways to shift your attitude ever so slightly and see what happens?  How do you do that in yourself?  Do you have a special way of accessing a creative state? Is it repeatable?  What does it require?  Have you ever shared it with anyone else?

I would love to hear from you about when and how creativity works in your life as well as when, where or how it doesn’t work.