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Photo by Junior Ferreira on Unsplash

The creative process: Embracing incubation

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who is incredibly creative and passionate about their artistic interests. We shared feelings of frustration because we were both struggling to find the energy and inspiration to create anything at all.

Allow the seedlings to grow

My lack of motivation had persisted for what I felt was an uncomfortably long time, during which I would flip between reminding myself that creativity is not always a constant stream of productivity and managing feelings of guilt and worried thoughts of what I should be doing with my time.

Just as a seed needs time to germinate and grow, creativity requires periods of incubation and reflection. These moments of apparent inactivity are crucial for ideas to take root and flourish.

Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash

I encouraged my friend to embrace this phase of incubation and to trust the creative cycle. I reminded them that even though it may feel unproductive at times, our minds are actively processing experiences, gathering inspiration, and forming connections beneath the surface. It is during these seemingly dormant periods that breakthroughs often occur, leading to fresh perspectives and novel ideas.

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

See what comes to you in silence

We talked about Actress, Film-maker, Singer & Composer Michaela Coel’s encouragement to forgo social media and instant visibility gratification to ‘see what comes to you in the silence’ and how allowing ourselves time and space to incubate during creative blocks and periods of apparent stagnation can lead to renewed vigour and creative work.

“In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence”. Michaela Coel

Ultimately, I encouraged my friend, and myself, to be patient and compassionate with ourselves. Creativity is a journey with its ebbs and flows, and we are simply in a phase of necessary incubation. I shared my experience of slowly plodding through the #100dayproject for bite-sized, daily inspiration and suggested they explore alternative creative outlets or engage in activities that inspire them indirectly, trusting that the creative spark would reignite in due time.

Creativity is a captivating journey—an adventure that takes us from a blank canvas to a work of art, from an idea to a masterpiece. Understanding the stages of the creative process can help us navigate through the twists and turns of this exhilarating ride. So, be kind to yourself, fasten your seatbelt, and prepare to embark on the next phase of your creative expedition when it launches.

Further Reading

Creativity – the unconscious foundations of the incubation period

For really GOOD ideas, you need to make space for incubation

Michaela Coel told us to try ‘disappearing’ for a while – here’s why that’s great advice

Photo by Junior Ferreira on Unsplash

Photo by Junior Ferreira on Unsplash

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