creative process: creative thought

07 Aug

It arose in the thoughts of the Holy One Blessed is He to create the worlds. The worlds were created by the 10 Words of G-d. These paraphrases of concepts from Jewish mystical learning might help us better understand our own creative process.  The foundation for creative activity is creative thought – concentrating the mind to conceive something where there was nothing – creatio ex nihilo – creation out of nothing.

The first physical manifestation of the mind’s conception is speech.  We might permit ourselves to define speech very broadly to include describing an idea in writing, or simply reviewing the idea in our head.  Before beginning the work of transforming concept into concrete in our medium, we can take this baby step, this transitional step, of expressing the conception through a mental review or a writing down.  This baby step of articulating an idea outside of the ultimate medium significantly strengthens the foundation for a successful application of the idea within the chosen medium.  This process of articulating an idea serves not only to preserve the concept in our memory but also to further refine the idea.

The notion that we can continuously develop a concept through the cycle of thought and articulation begs the question – what is the optimum amount of thinking and review on any particular aspect of a new idea before we move on to the next component of the concept?  Of course there is no single answer.  It is a question of experience.  But limiting the subject of our creative thought makes it a little easier to recognize when we can move whole hog into physically building the project.

Lolita, our attractive and mature Lady of Music for Art, is thinking about a new effect. This is a fairly narrow subject, and allows her to dig in a little without being overly concerned about getting bogged down in the thought process.

She needs this new effect to fill in a gap in the ambient landscape introducing a recent track. The track suggests outer space, the unknown, mystery and void. There are stars distant and near, flaming on and off. There is a spaceship, and some system on the spaceship is humming periodically. There is a drone that suggests the infinite vastness of space. This new effect is a color to be applied periodically to the drone. It is a second splash of sonic color – the spaceship’s humming system being the first. So this new effect has to have some different characteristics – a different sonic color, a new rhythmic pattern – all to provide new interest, additional drama to the sonic narrative.

Her thinking starts with a decision about a subject – and she tries to identify a fairly narrow subject.  This allows for more spontaneity in the thinking, because there is less concern about straying too far from home, from the original subject.  Her review of the overall concept and the elements she already created sets in her mind the context for the new effect.  Here is another balancing act that gets easier with experience: the new element is meant to complement what exists already in the work, but the new element typically influences the existing piece and demands some modification, reworking, of what already exists – like bringing a new member into the family, a new employee into the office.

As we describe the new element for our current project – either to ourselves or to someone else – verbally, or in writing, or in our head – we allow for more thought and further refinement of the concept.  We gain experience in limiting the subject of creative thought to enable us not to sidetrack or digress too much – to identify in a reasonable period of time the moment when we can jump back into building the project.

Enjoy this process of creative thinking.  It is a great new journey each day for you.  It is a gift to the artist who can do this type of work – creating something where there was nothing.

Spark on.


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Posted by on August 7, 2011 in creative cycle


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