The Creative Process: Incubation

I have been thinking about what kind of content I want to publish here, mulling over different ideas and even started writing a few articles. This part of the creative process is “incubation”.

Many times we have to go inside ourselves and find the mental space that houses the Source of our thoughts, dreams, beliefs and ideas. This source is not always as forthcoming as we’d like it to be. It may need to incubate for a while. After that it may need coaxing, poking, massaging, stimulating, cuddling or coddling (or some other action to make it yield or appear).



In my experience, many people (including “creatives”) are very self-critical. This often translates into a whole lot of negative self-talk. Over time this can cause the Source (as described above) to close up shop and shut down. Imagine an onslaught of verbal abuse and criticism. It’s very hard to feel good during and after that. It’s a struggle to maintain belief in yourself and your ideas. Decision making becomes mute.

That creativity requires discipline and work is true, but it also needs nurturing. Without nurturance we don’t thrive. Talk to yourself and your ideas the way you would talk to someone else whose creativity you are trying to encourage. Creating is a way to give voice to your ideas, dreams, hopes, secrets, etc. In my work I’ve seen many people give voice to things they’ve kept silent for years. I’ve witnessed first hand how empowering this is for people. Sometimes it’s a whisper, other times a scream, but always something is released and freed.

If you are struggling to create, go inside yourself. Look for the Source. Ask it what it needs. If this seems too odd to you, ask yourself what you need in order to create. Is it a quiet space? A block of uninterrupted time? A clear desk? Someone to see or hear the work? Try to figure this out then get close to meeting the need. There may be an ideal and a real. It doesn’t have to be perfect to work. Just start somewhere. Set reasonable small goals for yourself. Maybe invite a friend to be “goal buddies” or start a small goals group on Facebook. Or seek out a mentor. Connection also nurtures creativity. First there’s the connection with yourself and your Source. Then the connection with others.

If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh