Sunday Sesh: Understanding the Creative Process

In my last post ‘My Ten Year Reunion With Myself‘ I mentioned the creative process and that it is possible that I may not understand it and then declared it be put it on my list of things to do. Well, there’s no time like now, especially seeing as though I need to form a research question for uni.

After a bit of googling I came across an article called ‘Demystifying the Creative Process‘, by Charlie Gilkey. Gilkey describes the creative process in four parts: preparation, incubation, illumination and implementation.

It is funny you know, I have never labelled these phases but have always been aware of them, I guess they are innate. Now when my friends ask me to do something, instead of saying, “no I can’t hang out, I don’t feel well,” when all i want to do is go straight home to hibernate and write furiously, which is actually letting them think I am always making excuses for some reason to do with their personality; I will instead declare, “I can not come out today as I am currently enduring the elimination period of the creative process,” thus informing them it is for reasons to do with my personality. It’s as though I take the form of a famous TV show with the comment being made, “sorry, Tracie won’t be out until season ‘Implementation’ is made.”

Gilkey compares the incubation period to being “pregnant” with ideas. Sometimes the incubation period can be frustrating while you wait for your ideas to give birth, until – eureka! – they hit you at the most unexpected times!

I had a dream, the night before I decided to research this, where I visited a jungle that housed a particular type of snake which fed off a special flower. The locals would purposely seek this snake, place their hands in front of it, and as with an electric stapler it would snap and go – bam! – leaving two stapler-like wounds in your hand. But then, unlike the after effects of an electric stapler, you begin to feel high. It was the special flower that these snakes ate that produced this illuminating effect. In my dream I then accepted this state and reasoned that it helped the locals produce artistic ideas which is why (what – reasoning, sleepy mind of mine?) the locals’ art was so abundant yet spectacular and has been for many centuries.


Tulips on my desk, right next to my stapler…

But, after comparing this with reality in the morning, I came up with this question: is it safe to drink alcohol when “pregnant” with an idea? What if you didn’t know you had an idea? What if you weren’t even ready for the idea? You can’t abort it, the Catholics would go nuts, especially if they knew you had the idea out of school! Furthermore, while you were taking snakes!

So, from a writer’s perspective: Stephen King gave up the booze, Hemingway said ‘write drunk, edit sober’, and I like a good wine or GnT whilst writing, however, this brings up the question: is this nurturing my full potential? And what are the long term effects? I am apt to now declare to my friends: “sorry I cannot go out and drink copious amounts of wine with you tonight for I am pregnant with an idea!”

It is tempting to seek out the Jungle of Stapler Snakes, slash a few vines, ward off a few Unidentifiable Jungle Creatures (IJC), even beat my chest loudly screaming ME WRITER, YOU READER!, but isn’t the idea that I try to live a happy life where I can give my ideas a natural birth?


Fall inside the tulip, I dare you.