Troubles in My Creative Process
This course has taught me a whole lot about creativity. First, it debunked what being creative really means (spoiler: it’s not just up to artists and musicians). Then, it taught me a creative process created by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In this article, I will explain the biggest barriers that I face when I go through the different phases.
Before I begin, I would like to mention that I usually do not go through this process in the “correct order”, I take it merely as a guide. Instead of limiting myself to follow it, I use Csikszentmihalyi’s creative process as a measure to describe the progress I make on a project.
Alright, let’s get down to it! Personally, I have the most trouble with getting started, getting stuck, and making decisions. Again, creativity is not linear, and therefore it is hard to note down what stage particularly will be the most difficult. But, in my experience, all my issues can be drawn back to the three.
Firstly, getting started. As with many things, taking the first step is always the hardest. It is when we try to face the great wall. It is creating a game plan and figuring out how to get things done.
I always like to get the ball rolling first before formally going through the process. Whenever I take on a project, I usually already have a few things in mind. Before starting, I write all of these down and make connections when necessary. Anything and everything goes, emotions, solutions, feelings, and all of my wild ideas. Formally, this is known as ideation and for me, it takes form in brainstorming or mind mapping.
To make sense of my brain dump, I try to go back to empathy, which also puts us in Csikszentmihalyi’s preparation stage. I put myself in the shoes of the people I am being creative for. I think about who they are and what they might like to see from me. Doing so helps me draw the line between my wants and their needs. I am not making a solution for myself but rather, for someone else. That’s easier said than done. Luckily, there are ways to get to know my target audience on a deep level. These take the form of empathy maps and customer journeys. Through these, I am able to navigate my decisions toward a direction that will address their problems.
The next difficult thing about the creative process isn’t necessarily a stage. Instead, it is creating the game plan. What is next after knowing this? If you don’t have an answer to that question, you will find yourself at a standstill.
This brings me to my next main issue, getting stuck. This usually occurs in the evaluation stage. Typically, this happens when I think of one good idea and dedicate all my efforts toward it. Here, it is hard to move on when I feel like I have already found “the one”. Sometimes, even when there are genuine concerns brought to light, it’s hard to let go of a winning idea.
Luckily, with the help of the different tools provided, I was able to get past this. For example, in my group’s project, I had an idea that I really wanted to stick with. It was so out of the box that I honestly thought it was the best one. But, to my dismay, I found that the solution was not the best fit for the problem we were facing. When we evaluated it, it was better suited for a different situation. Thus, it was back to the drawing board and I had to go back a few steps in the creative process.
(See! Creativity is not linear!)
This now leads me to my last hurdle, making decisions. I typically struggle with this the most in the last two stages, evaluation and implementation. With creativity, it is so tempting to be free and varied. However, light shines brightest when it is concentrated. Creativity thrives the most within constraints. Thus, a hurdle in my creative process is intentionally creating these boundaries. It is hard for me to make every decision serve a greater purpose, I am often tempted to do something just because it amuses me. But, it must be done, and productive limitations must be set.
To end, this course taught me through application. In every step, I calculated and miscalculated my decision. All the hurdles I faced had a beautiful irony behind them. Fulfillment is in the learning, in the mistakes. I am thankful how I was able to learn about creativity like this, and how I was given the language and experience to navigate such an abstract concept. From now, and every day forward, I will be able to put that into practice.