The 6 Steps in The Creative Process: This will be awesome, This is hard, This is shit, I’m shit, This might be ok, This is awesome!

An artist friend of mine Murray Clode told me about the “The Creative Process” this morning at the Breakfast Club that I run.

The 6 Steps in The Creative Process

  1. This will be awesome
  2. This is hard
  3. This is shit
  4. I’m shit
  5. This might be ok!
  6. This is awesome!

This doesn’t just apply to creating art, it’s when we create anything:

  • You might have an idea for a new start-up business
  • You might launch into a d-i-y project at home
  • You might decide to learn a new language
  • You might decide to read a challenging book
  • You might decide to write a blog article like this one

Can you recognise yourself working through this process when you are doing something worthwhile?

For me, one of the most interesting parts of this list is how many opportunities there are to quit before you get something done!

The 4 Main Opportunities To Quit During The Creative Process

  1. Not getting started at all.
    • Having an awesome idea, but not taking the first step, not taking action. Most of us quit before we start
  2. When the initial optimism and excitement wears off and it gets hard, most of us quit
  3. If we work hard and then look with disappointment at what we’ve created, most of us quit
  4. When we see what we’ve created as a reflection of ourselves and blame ourselves for the dismal quality of the project, most of us quit

What Power Do You Have On Others Going Through The Process?

The second most interesting part of this is the power we have over people in the middle of creating something.

If you attack someones ideas you might send them into phase #3 (the “This is shit” phase) too early, so they quit!

If you encourage and uplift someone it might send them into phase #5 (the “This might be ok” phase) just before they quit!

When we are exposed to peoples ideas, we can’t help but have a reaction.

Those ideas might be art, they might be a plan for the future, they might be an idea for an event, an idea for a new product or service or business.

What Do They Need To Hear?

You have 3 choices when someone shares their ideas with you:

  1. Most often they need you to pat them on the back and say “good on you” and for you to keep any reservations you have to yourself so they can learn the lesson that awaits them
  2. Sometimes they might need some constructive criticism to send them in a new direction that will save them a bit of time & effort
  3. And sometimes they need someone brave to say “it looks like you’ve given this your best shot, have you thought about ending this project and taking what you’ve learned, and applying that to a new project? What project might that be?”

Is Ending A Project A Total Loss?

Most of the time we think failed projects are a complete waste of time and money/resources.

It’s this kind of thinking that stops most of us from starting a new project in the first place.

But all projects (whether they were failures or successes) are great learning, aren’t they?

In fact, perhaps up to 80% of your new skills and knowledge could be applied to your next project, couldn’t they?

Where To From Here? My 3 Hopes For You

  1. I hope that the next time you are in the middle of a creative project and feel like quitting, you remember that you’re in the middle of this 6 phase process and to not give up too early!
  2. I hope that the next time someone tells you their idea, that you choose right when you decide if they need a pat on the back, some constructive criticism, or for someone brave to prompt them to end it.
  3. But most of all, I hope you start a new creative project today, because the world always needs cool people working on cool creations.

(P.S. I was able to trace the origins of this list back to a tweet by Marcus Romer in Oct 2013).

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