Problems in the creative experience

Getting started. Getting stuck. Getting done.
 These are the rough hallmarks of the creative process. I’ve noticed we tend to have our own favorite segments for shining or falling.
 Are you a great starter, but run out of something essential before the middle, or near the end?
 Do you have trouble getting started, but once you have steam can count on yourself to hang in there for at least a good while?
 Do you get close to the end, or all the way there, but can’t stop fixing or improving, or can’t bring yourself to put it out into the world?
 In the four stages of the creative experience, there are some common practices that may help navigate the difficulties of the stage you’re in now.
 Today we will focus on the first stage, wonder.
 In the wonder stage we are finding inspiration. If you are here, these three practices are essential:
 1. Make space.
 If our days are always too full, our energies always depleted, our physical spaces too overwhelming or uninspiring, our heads always too noisy, how will the light get in?
 2. Pay attention.
 Improvements in space making will help with paying attention, but it takes more than letting the light in to actually notice and attend to what is standing in the light–the wisp or trumpet sound of an idea, question, vision, desire, or insight.
 The tools of paying attention are so varied by individual and context, but tend to include stillness, documentation, and exploration: note taking, journaling, walking or walking around, breaking up routines, coaching, meditation, retreat, travel, sketching, tinkering, puttering, modeling, playing, discussing, photographing, class taking, teaching, reading, pinning, and even sleeping with or without dream journaling.
 3. Follow fascination.
 If there is enough space in your world to allow for moments of wonder, inspiration, insight, curiosity or imagination, and the way you live in some way supports paying attention to sources of inspiration as they appear, this is what remains in the wonder stage: follow fascination.
 You know what it is to be serendipitously delighted when web surfing. You go online to find a piece of data, or an idea for a birthday present, or to register for a conference. A word, an idea, a link lights up for you, and you go there. Three to five hops later you’ve stumbled on something truly fascinating, or wonderfully useful to the thing you’ve been sort of paying attention without really knowing where it was heading.
 Internet serendipity happens elsewhere, too. We notice and turn down a different street, go to a new place for lunch or a different section in the bookstore, pick up an odd magazine in the waiting room, or sign up for an interesting class.
 Often the first turn or two isn’t so significant. But if we keep following these little nudges or fragments of fascination, we often find serendipity–a place where our sense of wonder lands and takes hold. We want to stay here a while, play a bit, see where it takes us or what it means.
 Sometimes this means we are entering stage two, orient.
 In stage two we will need these three practices as much as ever. We can’t stop making space, paying attention and following fascination. The problems and objectives of stage two will require it’s own core set of practices, though. We will explore this further.

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