From Idea to Reality: The Role of a Creative Community in the Creative Process

a drop of water in a pool

If you have an idea you're passionate about, but it still feels  out of reach, it might be because your community isn't doing its job.

Albert Einstein once observed, “Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.”  But in these terms, only the creator matters while groups and mainstream society are seen to stifle creativity.

However, research has shown that being part of a creative community is hugely beneficial for creative people, not only in creating work but also ensuring its appreciation and impact. But to get these benefits, we have to challenge the assumption that the artist creates alone and is the only critical component of the creative process.

In fact, we are collaborating all the time; our creative collaborators are “distributed.” Our work is influenced not only by fellow creators, but also audiences, materials, as well as the historical and socio-cultural environment in which we create. Even AI is now a potential collaborator if we learn how to use it.

Despite Pablo Picasso’s rant, “Disciples be damned. It's only the masters that matter, those who create,” even he did not create in a vacuum. Picasso’s own work emerged from the previous styles of painting  he rejected, and it required a receptive audience willing to appreciate it in order to have the impact it had. 

The same applies to us all, whether we’re undisputed masters or quiet visionaries trying to realize our life callings. A community makes us better.

Three ways a community makes us all more creative:

  1. It’s the air we breathe. What we do as creators and the significance of our work depend on how our ideas interact with the time and culture we live in. We may be individual creators, but we cannot escape being part of a group as well. Whether we maintain our group norms or find our voices by deviating from them, those groups have a profound influence on how we think, how we express ourselves and how we evaluate creative work.
  2. It’s the place we belong. Our ideas are enriched through sharing. Rather than suppressing new ideas, collaborative discussions with our peers can facilitate them. They help us see ourselves more clearly. Creative movements form when individuals cohere around a shared enterprise or value system. That sense of shared social identity encourages members to persevere when things get tough, overcoming their challenges and sticking with their creative projects to completion. 
  3. It’s the ground beneath our feet. Groups play an essential role in garnering  appreciation for new products and endowing them  with impact. Without tapping into group identity, innovative artists, writers and scientists may all go unrecognized. We all know that Van Gogh’s work was not recognized until after his death; but it was because a circle of artists, called Postimpressionists, decided to emulate his distinctive style. We’re far more likely to support a creative project or endeavor if we consider its creator a member of our group.

So how do you get the most from a community when you’ve found one? The well-being of the group – and its ability to nourish its members – depends on the participation of the individuals within it. And that starts with you.

Five ways to get the most from a creative community:

  1. Dare to share. Being vulnerable in a creative community – sharing from the heart – creates a sense of safety to take creative risks, exchange unproven ideas, receive feedback and criticism, and so improve your work.
  2. Collaborate and inspire. Sharing with other creatives (whether your work-in-progress or your feelings about it) offers you new perspectives, inspiring ideas you would not have come up with on your own. Embracing other influences can also push you to experiment in new methods, media or directions.
  3. Show up and be accountable. Showing up consistently for your group is showing up for yourself. It will motivate you to stay focused and accountable to continue working towards your creative goals.
  4. Push past your creative blocks. Witnessing others riding their  inner dragon, doing their work, sharing and overcoming their fears, will help you feel less alone, encouraging you to acknowledge your own creative blocks so you can overcome them.
  5. Network and expand. A creative community connects you deeply with others on the creative path. Potential clients, collaborators and mentors become friends when you go through the process together. Different types of groups might help you develop your craft, progress your products, expand your reach or just see your work from a new perspective.

Reflect on your own creative community.

  1. What makes you feel you belong?
  2. How does taking part enhance your creativity?
  3. How have your creative connections helped you to grow?
  4. Describe a time when you collaborated with someone and its impact on your creativity.
  5. How does your community help you thrive and advance your creative aspirations?

If you don’t have a creative community, reflect on why you don’t.

Community is a place in the Wheel of Creativity.

The Wheel of Creativity charts the individual creator’s journey. From the birth of the idea in the Vision Quarter to testing it in Exploration, from gestating the prototype in the Incubation Quarter to the iterative realization of the product in Cultivation, it is a cycle that repeats many times in an artist’s life. The creator must leave Home (the status quo) and eventually return again with something new.

At a deeper level, Home is the familiar, your tribe, your group, the community you have to leave in order to discover (create) what has never existed. To follow your own calling, you may well need to break away aesthetically, ideologically, or even geographically. The hunger that launches the creative cycle and propels you “out there” finally leads you back Home with a harvest to nourish not only you but also the tribe you left.

To make this heroic journey, you don’t need to know where you're going, for that discovery is the journey itself. But you do need to know:

  • Where you’re from – what you’re leaving behind and why
  • What is calling you – the inner voice that must be heard
  • What is the next step – one and only one step at a time
  • Where your allies are – who remind you who you are

The challenge is to find a new nomadic community, those fellow-travelers who give you enough courage to not give up. 

When we do this sacred work in the world, the life we live is transformational. Not only are we transformed by the creative process - becoming capable of doing the work we’re called to do. We transform our communities too.

From Idea to Reality. From Seed to Harvest.

A creative community gives us a regenerative field for our work, from seed to harvest. It offers us source material as well as collaborators of all kinds to develop the work. It gives us a safe space with like-minded creatives where we can take risks, overcome blocks, exchange ideas and get feedback. And it also includes the larger audience with a taste for our unique vision, where we can begin to feel our influence on the world. 

If your creative community doesn't quite live up to the possibility you can see here... or if you don't have a creative community at all... click here [Work with Me] to explore ways you can access the community I lead. Some are free. Others are paid. If you have a creative vision of any kind, you belong. And we welcome you.