The Creative Process

Some artists, musicians, writers, and craftspeople – most creative types – are uncomfortable with having viewers ogling their creative practices. There is a certain discomfort at having the inner workings discovered, so there is a tendency to throw a shroud over the proceedings. This way, you don’t see the bowls of nachos and ice cream at four am, the tantrums, or the Googling when they are just “out of good ideas” and resort to “research” on the web. I have been known to consult my cat; if she disparages something, that’s the end.
I have to be circumspect here because friends might be upset if I give away too much of their creative processes to idle viewers interested in things best left in the dark. Many view the creative process as full of aha moments, when it’s more like head scratching, belly rumbles, and a burp.

For me, it’s this way: periodically, my bench fills with sketches, photos, or even mockups of things I am considering. Bunches are put off and may never get done. Others percolate for years, and some undergo a prototyping process. Prototypes lead to finished projects or a trip to the woodstove for bad stuff. Wood ashes wind up in the garden soil, so nothing is truly wasted.

Having said that about my creative process, I’m like many others and don’t invite inquiries or watchers. I’ve found that watchers are always just a second away from offering opinions; this is my process, not theirs.

My wife and I were on the verge of getting socially close with a couple. But one was always trying to get an invite into the shop. So if they came over, it was inevitable that they’d ask for a shop tour. Then, not satisfied with looking, the comments would flow about how they’d do something or how I should think about a process. My wife didn’t seem to mind this. After all, it wasn’t her issue until the spouse sought to comment on cooking. So we gradually unwound that relationship – a bit too invasive.

So, if you have a clever friend, be careful of intruding on their processes. Be supportive, and make lovely comments, but don’t attempt to hijack the show unless they do the equivalent of throwing hands up in the air and gasping, “I just don’t know what to do!”

I don’t get violent, but some do.

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