Creativity Q&A: Managing The Pressure

Posted on Jun 29, 2012

Dear Katherine,

How do I deal with the pressure that builds up when the bridge between production and Harvest doesn’t manifest? For me personally, the pressure builds up with age and waning energy to do my art alongside the job I already do. How can I best manage the waiting game between production and Harvest?

(Carol B., artist)

Dear Carol,

Thank you for your heartfelt question. I know this pressure myself; we all move through it at several points in the creative process. The simple answer, wherever in your process it appears, is to turn within, returning to the stillness within you. At your center, you are already connected with the solution to all your challenges here-and-now. But, action is required as well.

Learning to fly.

Creative pressure is evident even in Nature. I observe it in the three young seagulls on the rooftop across from me now. One is flying already, while the other two are not. I hear their cries (imagine kittens) and see the intensity of their desire, as they spread their wings, scooting lightly across the tiles. With each day of longing, they gather their courage and their physical strength, developing the mechanisms to carry them when they are falling on the wind. With each week that passes, their longing (the pressure) increases.

Pressure is a natural part of the cycle of creation. It occurs in each quarter of the Wheel of Creativity – Vision, Exploration, Incubation and Cultivation. Responding to it correctly is essential to keep moving forward creatively, but the correct response changes from one quarter to the next. Sometimes you need to wait; sometimes you need to act.

Here is a simple test to help you clarify where you are and what kind of response is needed.

Five questions to right action:

  1. What is your ultimate objective with your project now? Write it down.
  2. What are you doing to achieve this objective? List your actions.
  3. Where is the pressure you feel coming from? Outside circumstances? Inner drives? A combination of the two? Name them.
  4. What issues do you have the power to change? List them.
  5. If your current actions are ineffective, in what ways can you focus your energies more effectively to achieve your objective? List them.

Putting it out there.

Harvest, the part of the creative process you name, is the time you put your work out into the world. Whatever you call it – marketing, sales, promotion, publishing, exhibiting – it is a very different mechanism than creating the work. It is a skill that must be developed, just like painting. It is a work of art in itself.

Some aspects of the creative process come naturally to us; they are things we love to do. Others we would avoid at all costs; and these often have to do with money. But the muscles must be also developed here as well, in order for us to let go of the rooftop and fly, in order for our work to make its own way into the world.

What you long for creatively always exists beyond the frontiers of what you have. Waiting is possibly the toughest part of the creative process, wherever it occurs. Whether you are preparing to launch a new project or harvesting a completed project, the pressure you describe calls for mindfulness, willingness to change, courage. It also calls for action. Taking the right actions while you wait empowers you and calls in the winds of Life to support you.

Let me know what you discover.

See you in the Wheel!


P.S. Do you have a question for me about living your life creatively? Fire away! I’ll be answering questions every Friday. If this answer has been helpful for you, please share it.

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