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Process, not Product.

I had a nice discussion with friends last night about creativity and how important it is to not edit at the beginning of the project. Put down a rough outline or a sketch. Then fill in. Then edit. If you edit at the start you will never get your project built. Yes, a strong foundation is good. But the best part is that whatever art form you use, be it writing, music, beading, painting -isn’t a building. You can rearrange it, especially if you are creating in a digital format.
If you think too much about the end you will never get past the beginning. Rarely do my creations end up the way I expected. Over twenty years of jewelry making has taught me that, and I’m learning it is true about writing as well. Even if I have the beads, once I put them together they look different. This texture doesn’t look right with this color. Or I don’t have the skill to connect them the way that I want. I’ve learned to do it anyway with what I have. Just keep going forward. The process is more important than the product.
What you make this week will (probably) look stupid to you in a month. That is OK. You are a different person a month later. Don’t rip your creation apart. Make something else. If you rip it apart and try to remake it, you are just making the same thing over and over. Make something new. That way you are adding, not subtracting. You will constantly be growing and changing and developing. Each time you create you are learning more about the medium and about yourself. Each time you create you are growing.
It is OK to revisit a theme. Whether you are creating with beads, words, or musical notes, themes come up and need to be worked on. It is fine to return to that theme and give it a different treatment. Perhaps this time you will find the “right” way to express that idea. Or not. That is OK too. Keep working and pushing and trying. Grow forward, not back.
I suspect creating is a lot like having a child. You don’t know how it is going to look or behave once it comes out. It isn’t about controlling the creation – it is about being part of it, and letting it develop naturally through you. Part of the delight (or frustration) with being a creative person is that the result surprises you. It ends up how it ends up. Rarely when you are creating do you get to “have it your way”, in spite of what Burger King says. The way your creation ends up is the way it either needs to be, or it is the best you can do right now. The more you practice your art, the better you will get. It is helpful to think of each attempt as a stepping stone, not a stumbling block.
Perhaps I’m trying to be a midwife to your creativity. Don’t fight it. Let it happen. Don’t push too soon. Breathe.
Everybody has to start somewhere. Mozart didn’t create amazing music right from the start, right? OK. Maybe he did. That’s why we call him a child prodigy. But the fact that we have a special word for it means it is unusual. I seem to remember that he had a LOT of music lessons, though. The only difference between you and the expert is a lot of time and work. So get going and make more art!

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