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Impatience, Trust and the Creative Process

After an inspiring workshop, conference or even a book or conversation, you can be left wondering, what in the world am I going to do with this information?

This might not sound like a part of the creative process, but it is! Check it out:
(approx transcript below in case you’d prefer to read).

Chatting at the Grill

Last Friday at a Grill night here at our house, I met a super nice guy who’s studying architecture. He had just returned from a big summer training/workshop at Harvard. Often 14 hours a day for (if I remember correctly) 2 months.

He was full to bursting with ideas, inspiration, resources… so much so that he was pretty much at a stand still.

What’s next?
What do I do with all this?

He had no idea.

What he had decided was to go to camping up at Mt. Shasta. “To sort it all out,” he said.

“NO!” I was my reaction, and then I told him about the cycle of creativity that Steven Kotler explains in his book The Rise of Superman.

The Creative Cycle

He explains four phases of the creative cycle (via my interpretation):

  1. Gathering of new info. Conferences, trainings, workshops, books, conversations — all great for this.
  2. Rest. (This is the one all of us impatient people like to skip.) Let the new info find its way into the mysterious mental filing cabinet that is our brain (my words, not Kotler’s).
  3. Creativity happens! This is the phase we think of when we think of “being creative”. This is when the ah-ha! moments happen. This is when we make new connections between what we already know and the new stuff that we’ve brought in.
  4. Processing. I see this phase as when the ah-ha’s and advancements in thought become the new norm, it becomes a part of your world view — until it gets added on to and advanced again!

While camping at Mt. Shasta was a GREAT idea, I suggested he think about anything but architecture.

That Squirrely Trust

How will he know that he’s done with the Rest phase and ready to make sense of it all?


In my experience, connections just start happening, usually while journaling. It can also happen in spontaneous conversation where I’ll be talking with someone about something related and ideas will pop out — ideas that obviously incorporate the new stuff I’ve recently gathered.

Then I know it’s time. It’s my job to be aware and, like in surfing, once you catch the wave, ride it in.

Calm, Confidence, Grace & Ease
If you’re stuck, knowing where you are in the creative process can be really helpful — heck, just remembering that it’s a process is helpful to find patience and self-compassion.

As much as we want to hurry processing along, we can’t. It’s a process (hey, imagine that!).

When you give it the space to happen, you invite more grace and ease into your life.


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