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On Your Extremely Personal Creative Process…

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creative processWords by: Tamisha Ford

Photo: Pinterest

I don’t know about you, but I’m learning more and more that every one of us has such a personal and unique way of working, creating, and bringing any new thing into light and focus.

Recently, I was sort of overwhelmed at how many proverbial balls I have in the air right now.

  • I’m in development of The Avant Garde School of Expression and what will be offered there, what’s involved, what I want my peeps to experience on a weekly and monthly basis, what’s valuable, and how I want it to enhance in our lives.
  • I’m also developing 2 new courses that are much more digestible and different in delivery than the last one I created for my signature Course Collections.
  • I’m working on my premium program, In My Skin, set to debut later this year (Fall, 2015 sometime)
  • As part of Avant Garde, I’m also developing a few other things I’m not ready to share publicly yet with you but will soon that are VERY exciting!

Here’s a fact about me: My creative process is incredibly slow. It’s at a snails pace. It takes me a long time to think through all the pieces, and it’s PARAMOUNT to me that I create an experience for the people I work with, not just another website or “membership” opportunity.

Just like I would want, it needs to CALL to the people who I know would most want what I can teach and offer. So I build accordingly. I develop in silence, and I go through all of my creative blocks and frustrations typically privately.

Lately, I’ve been taking to Instagram to be a little more public when I’m going through something. Not the classic INFJ, but it happens. 🙂

In a beautifully thought-provoking piece by Maria Popova on the 4 Stages of Creativity, she shares the thoughts and writings of author Graham Wallas who really beautifully states this “cocoon” time period. He says it this way:

Voluntary abstention from conscious thought on any problem may, itself, take two forms: the period of abstention may be spent either in conscious mental work on other problems, or in a relaxation from all conscious mental work. The first kind of Incubation economizes time, and is therefore often the better.

I was drawn to this entire article she wrote, but especially the section on the incubation period. My incubation periods are often long and well-thought-out time frames where I’m deep in thought, engrossed in thinking through every detail. 

I’ve had to learn a very nice balance between my typical perfectionist approach versus a more pragmatic one, as referenced in this book I loved and helped me SO much with my creative process!

By balance, I mean I’ve had to learn to be totally okay with it taking me much longer than it might take someone else to develop a program or offering in my business, but also understand that it’s also okay to think through every detail – a lot of business owners don’t take that kind of time. Some don’t need it, and that’s also great. 

While it takes me a long time to create something, I think incredibly fast. So much so that often, 20% of what I come up with actually gets nixed. I have to allow my brain to think as fast as it wants and move through the inquiry process before I do. Speaking from my own experience ONLY, it wasn’t the best thing for me to create during the inquiry process itself – I started an entire business during the inquiry process in 2013, and it went well but it wasn’t fulfilling because I was still answering my own questions.

Even so, I wouldn’t have learned that if I did nothing at all. 

It’s taken me about 4 1/2 years to get good at permission for all of this MESSINESS – ha. That this is simply how I create, and I am not here to be like anyone else, compare my business to theirs, think I have to create how they create, etc. It can take me an entire year to bring something really great to light, and I’m fine with that. I’m not in a hurry.

You know when you look around at work or at any entrepreneur or other type of artist that what I’m saying is right on – I don’t need to provide statistics. We all have our own way of delivering our creative endeavors into the world that have their own genetic makeup.

What I want is for you to learn to be okay with YOURS.

One of the things I wanted to share with you was the process I use to collect interest in a program long before it comes to life. I write an initial information page that fully explains the overview of what I envision, who it’s for, and the type of person it calls to.

Example here of my In My Skin program set for a Fall release. This page has been up for months…

One reason I do this is to know who it’s actually going to attract. I can make all the assumptions in the world, but this actually validates and/or challenges those assumptions. Another is so I can bring them into a segment of value up front. I always prepare an info package for an experience like this with a series of emails that informs the person about what they can expect (and that it may vary slightly when it is actually birthed).

In the final part of the email info package (delivered over a period of a few weeks dependent upon if they open each one), the interested person has a chance to write me and share their desire and needs for the program as it’s been presented. If they open each email I send AND write me, I basically have a beta client to help me finish developing the program.

So out of currently 15 women interested in this program, 6 of them may actually partake in the beta experience.

You wouldn’t believe the amazing feedback I get. And I use those responses to further inform my development and creative process.

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If we’re going to create anything of value, we need to understand the person who might actually be on the other side of it in addition to how we want it to look and how we want to deliver it. What do they most desire? What’s burning so hot that it needs attention immediately? What’s in their heart?

In my creative process, I bake this into the model. I need to know the answers to the above questions, so I eloquently ask in a way that lets people know I care about them & their process and life.

It has taken me now 6 years to learn and understand the psychology behind this process. And the people I’m drawing to the program? Are going through the exact same process! Who knew?! Here’s an email I got in the last 3 days:

 

Email

So really, why am I sharing all of this?

I simply want you to see the VALUE in nurturing and allowing your personal and/or creative process. It’s worth it! You do NOT have to create something in 2 hours or 2 days or 2 years. You need to be able to quantify your process yes, but once you see it for what it is, learn to work within it and see all kinds of doors & opportunities open up for you.

My suggestion to you if you have trouble quantifying your creative process is to conduct a self case study on YOU. Write it in the 3rd person, and yes, WRITE it down. If you’re working on a 6-week course, write out all the creative visioning you will need, how long it will take, and any research involved. That could be one phase. Then write down what usually happens next in your process, etc, etc. Literally, you can create your own process with as many phases or titles as you need to. But then, you’ll truly be able to see how you think and work and how long you can expect it to take you to bring something to life.

If you struggle with this process or you want help, I can help you. I would actually LOVE to help you. This summer ONLY, I opened up a special coaching opportunity if you can’t seem to do this process on your own (whether you can or can’t isn’t the focus – the people you serve are). So if interested, I’m here.

Otherwise, I want to know one take-away from this that you are going to put into action TODAY that you know will help you!

With all my love & gratitude for you taking the time to read this…

T

Comments(2)

  • Patricia
    June 23, 2015, 8:53 am  Reply

    Tamisha,

    Like you, I like to have time and “space” to think out anything I’m embarking on, not just the creative process. I find sometimes I think too long, which leads to procrastination and often an abandonment of ideas. I suppose it’s not a bad thing, because like you, my mind generates MANY thoughts and ideas during the day, and most are not plausible.

    Case in point, I was recently invited to a Sandbox program at uTest.com to “audition” as a software tester. As usual, I found myself “bringing up the rear” when it came to submitting my test cases and bugs. Many people were way ahead of me, and suddenly I felt the need to hurry. As I glanced at the work already online, it was clear to me that those ahead of me DID NOT read the instructions thoroughly before getting started. Subsequently, these people lost points right off the bat. The takeaway? It was okay to go slowly and deliberately….my pace was right for me. While my inexperience contributed to an average score, imagine my surprise, when I received an email telling me I graduated in the coveted 30% of the class. Perhaps slow and steady does win the race afterall? 🙂

    While software testing is not necessarily considered a creative process, I realized that it was okay to go at my own pace within my creative process and otherwise, and to take the time to really think things through BEFORE getting started. I think in the long run, it saves time, money and is more efficient. Any thoughts?

    Patricia

    • June 24, 2015, 4:50 pm

      Well first and foremost, I want to say how much I honor your thoughts here, Patricia! You are a gem. What an amazing opportunity you were given – I don’t think it matters whether we consider it a “creative endeavor” or not – you are absolutely right about the advantages of slow and steady or really, just honoring what feels true & genuine for you with regard to whatever the endeavor.

      You honored the space, so the space honored you. It’s practically law.

      I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me! Sometimes, being an introvert (as I know you and I both are), does us a WORLD of good in taking time and making space to really analyze and assess. Wow, I can’t tell you how many times that has played up for me. Time after time. Situation after situation. Project after project.

      Congratulations for graduating – that’s what I’m talkin’ about! 🙂

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