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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau

What To Do Next

I created this a couple of days ago and have shared it on Instagram, receiving quite a few compliments. I have been looking at it several times a day since knowing that it is just the beginning kernel of something else. I know there is more of a message somewhere in this image, but I haven't totally decided on what direction to take. I have read biographies of famous musicians, artists, and writers and it seems this is a common problem. There is even a name for this. It's called the creative process. There are five classic stages to this process: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and finally, elaboration. Seeing these listed like this reminds me of how my English teacher taught us how to tackle writing a term paper. But I don't think of them as being individual, all inclusive steps in the process. In my experience, and from what I have heard from some of my fine artist friends, is that they often overlap considerably. You can even reach and think you have completed the elaboration stage only to realize that something isn't right; it's not complete; there is more to be done. That's when the whole process becomes rather fluid. You ask your friends and peers to take a look at it; you continue to research new approaches; you continue question yourself about what is the message you want to convey, There is a lot of "what will happen if I try this?" going on in your brain, and you can't wait to try it and see. In the last few months it's been interesting to hear from and about people of creativity and how they have been managing their lives since they have had to curtail their usual activities. For many it seems to have been the gift of time that has made a difference. They thought they were in the "elaboration" phase of their lives, and these weeks of isolation have given them the time to evaluate and get insight into what they were doing and how and why they were doing it. So new ideas have been incubated and new preparations begun. In effect, the process for them has come full circle and has started again. You see, while individual pieces can be processed through to completion, they are only parts of a bigger whole, one that is circular, not linear. If you are a creative person, and really all of us are even when we think we aren't, you will always be in one or more parts of the creative process at the same time. That's what keeps us moving forward, giving us reasons to get up in the morning and start a new day. The question of "what to do next" really should be a rallying cry to prepare, incubate, get insight, evaluate, and elaborate whatever we can and whenever we can. That is what gives our days and our lives meaning.

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