There is tremendous benefit to the artist in keeping track of where she is at, with respect to any given project, in the creative process. Most of us are involved in many different projects simultaneously and all of them are at different stages in the creative cycle. At each stage in the project cycle, there is a process of identifying a requirement, conceptualizing a solution (creative thought, problem solving), learning what is necessary to execute the solution, actually executing the solution, and then ideally seeking feedback on the execution and further refining the execution.
Moving from one process point to another is a question of readiness. If for example, you have determined that an area of your canvas is underdeveloped, you may be ready to conceptualize the subject matter, but likely not prepared to actually populate that area of your canvas. If anything, the conceptualization stage would likely lead to some sketching, some refinement of concept, more sketching, perhaps sharing sketches and soliciting feedback. After this process, there would be a readiness to execute the concept on your canvas.
Of course we can procrastinate, succumb to laziness, or depression, and not execute when the time to execute has arrived. That is a subject for another post. The concern here is giving oneself adequate preparation and not rushing forward to a new process point before we are ready to do so. This is harder than it might seem, because we are eager to move ahead with projects, we want the satisfaction of seeing finished work, of sharing finished work, of getting recognition for work, and earning money for the work.
But if we are to survive and thrive as artists, we have to chill a little, stay in process with our projects, let the stews simmer. Stay in touch with your feelings as you work. If you are getting this tightness in your gut, if there is some sighing going on, if your heart is pounding, if the brow is furrowing – you may be pushing ahead too far and too fast.
Catch your breath! Remind yourself of the wonderful results you have achieved when you allow work to evolve and finish in the fullness of time. Remind yourself that there is no such thing as being “done” for an artist. We are always in process. Relish the experience of creation as much, maybe more, than those brief moments of satisfaction from finished works and external recognition.
Relish the social connections that are implied in each stage of the creative process. Sharing work in progress for the sake of feedback is a very satisfying way to connect (social interaction) with your colleagues and friends and public, for example. Collaboration in creative projects is a tremendously satisfying way to feel connected socially in creative work. The experience of prayer and meditation on the Creator and Her world can be startlingly powerful during periods of unavoidable isolation during creative work.