Fall (back) in love with your creative process
What if we committed to creative practice simply because it brought us an opportunity to seek out joy?
Creative Fuel is a newsletter about the intersection of creativity and everyday life. Prompts are focused on helping us tap into our creative process, no matter our medium. The full archive of prompts can be found here.
Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum—we are always impacted by what’s happening in our immediate surroundings, and those further away. I believe that creativity is a call to pay more attention, make more connections, and approach the world with more empathy. With that in mind, 10% of my shop sales and paid newsletter subscriptions this month will be donated to International Rescue Committee and Syrian American Medical Society in support of aid efforts in Syria and Turkey.
It’s Valentine’s Day in a few days, so I very seriously considered sending out a prompt that was themed around making a Valentine for someone.
For years my mother has sent out handmade Valentine’s Day cards to her friends, and perhaps there’s no better inspiration for good cards than Julia and Paul Child. I’m not big on the Hallmark-y/bad chocolate/tacky flowers/consumerism aspect of Valentine’s Day, however, I do like a good pun, and who doesn’t like celebrating the people who they love?
Let’s stick with the love theme for today and ask this: what does love mean for creativity?
A lot, as it turns out. Love helps to boost our brain cognition, helping to expand our thinking and facilitating new ideas. And that can come from all kinds of love. As Stephanie Ortigue said in an interview about her book Wired for Love: A Neuroscientist's Journey Through Romance, Loss, and the Essence of Human Connection, “Love doesn’t have to be with a living person. If you are really in love with life, with your passion, with your hobby, it can also be a buffer against loneliness.”
But how much love do we have for our own creative process?
I found myself texting back and forth with an artist friend the other day, sending pictures of what we had both made. Neither of us had much positive to say about what we had done. But of course, we had plenty of nice things to say about what the other person had made. We are our own worst critics.
Culturally we’ve suffered from the weight of the tortured artist trope. “Art must be difficult or otherwise it’s not art!” is essentially where anything in that line of thinking goes. But what if we found more joy in the process? What if we gave ourselves permission to create what we want to create?
The science of flow state shows us that there are serious benefits to being invested in the process. To engage in an activity simply for the love of doing it.
The process is, of course, not always enjoyable. I always think of's breakdown of Hayao Miyazakai’s creative process, a reminder that creative work can be frustrating, exasperating. But on the flip side: if we don’t find some aspect of joy in our creative work, what are we even doing here?
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