The Circle of Creativity
If you follow it through a little further, you’ll notice the creative process flows in a circle. The circle has been recognized for thousands of years as representative of life.
Like a clock, we start at the top, move all the way down and back up again. At the top is traditionally where the beginning and the end meet. It’s where infinity and zero meet.
As a practical example, let’s take building a home. Caution, we’re going to look at the full cycle of creation here. So again, we start at the top with not zero, but everything. If you’re going to build a home, you begin with the understanding that you have the whole world as inspiration. You might study photos of other homes, you might take your inspiration from nature. You might build an underground home as do some animals in the wild. You might take the atom as inspiration and build a geodesic home. In short, you have the entire world all of nature and history to select ideas from, and even beyond that is yet the powers of your own imagination.
So you are truly starting with infinity, and you gather pertinent data.
The next step is one of thought. Now you read and analyze. You look and consider options. You weigh the pros and cons. You investigate even if only in your head the advantages and disadvantages.
How long does this step take? It might take minutes. It might take years. It might be instantaneous. Time is irrelevant. The point is, whether you know it or not, it is a step you must take. The product of this level is a direction and decisions that will guide your subsequent actions.
For the home builder, it might be the decision to build a large two story home, since a larger home is easier to sell than a smaller one.
Now that you have some decisions and a direction to follow, your next step is going to look around town for a lot on which you can. More thought comes in here of course, the fundamental action is you’re going to be looking at the ground around you. This is the ground or stage where it’s all going to take place. This step deals with, and is where you focus on, the playing field or world itself.
The fact is before you can stand, you must have a place to stand. Space in which to stand. Ground to stand on. Time in which to stand. And you must have the energy to stand.
The material world is constructed of four things: matter, energy, space and time. So you have a plot of ground (matter and space). You must also find the money (energy) and arrange your calendar (time) so the work can get done. So here indeed the focus is on the material world.
NOTE: Don’t get confused here about sequence. The sequence is not that important. The sequence is only important as a general plan. In reality, you may find the lot before you even decide to build a home. That is fine.
To continue, now that you’ve done your research. You’ve decided to build a home and you’ve decided what kind of home to build. Then you’ve found a space in which to build, and you’ve arranged the money and time. What is next?
People. You’re going to need an architect and a crew of carpenters. This step is all about life.
Starting on this path, things have began on the widest possible basis -- the upside down pyramid -- and they have coalesced. Here is the stage where you must deal with unifying themes and guiding principles. In the much earlier step of thought, we decided “to build a new house.” That is not a unifying theme or guiding principle. No. That is just a decision to take action and a general direction set.
Here, you establish your brand. For example, here the decision may be “English Tudor” “Rustic” “Ranch Style” “Modern” “Futuristic” “Contemporary.” Here is motif. Here is unifying style. Here too is the decision of “economy first.” “Better quality.” “Best quality.” “Spare-no-expense quality.” “Royalty quality.” You get the idea. The fundamental here is unification.
Now the center of the X begins to expand outward again. At this phase comes the fundamental action of organization. Do you want all the bedrooms together? How many spaces in the garage? Do you have a home theatre? What about a pool? Do you want the master bedroom near the kids bedrooms? Upstairs or downstairs? You have to organize your plan.
Now with the basic organization established, it’s time to get creative. Here you begin to ornament the basic plan. This level is aimed at the aesthetics of your future home. Call it creativity. How will you ornament this home to make it beautiful? Brass details? Beveled glass? Stone work? Retro styling? Will you work with existing trees or plant new ones? You (or someone) must select colors and textures and think about the final look you want to achieve.
Then, and only then, are you ready to create the symbolic blueprint of your home. At this level you actually begin to create at the level of symbology. And what is a symbol anyway?
A symbol is something with three qualities:
A chess piece is a symbol. The knight represents a real knight. The chess piece has mass. It has weight. It has meaning -- it represents the abilities of a knight on horseback. And it has mobility: you can move it around.
A blueprint is a symbol. It has mass (the weight of the paper it’s printed on). It has great meaning to a builder. And it has mobility because you can roll it up and throw it in the truck. And unroll it again at Starbucks.
Next: The Creative Countdown, Chapter 7
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