Creative Process Stage 5. [WHV #67]

Dear two people reading this blog on a good day: Spread the word, the Weekly Head Voices is making a comeback!

In the process of dealing with recent(ish) life-changing decisions, but probably more due to the preceding time of introspection, I was unable to enter the right state of mind for producing the weekly WHV episodes. However, because exciting new events have been scheduled for the coming months and I really look forward to writing about them, and because I’ve decided that, yes, I shouldn’t worry too much about the actual literary impact of this here blog (I wrote “bog” first, I hope that it wasn’t a Freudian slip; what I was actually intending to say between these parentheses is that I will continue to do my best to entertain and/or edify!), the time has come to get the WHV back on the road!

For the past weeks, I have been burning all kinds of midnight oil on different projects. For one of them, I’ve had to design a reusable JS architecture for customizable visualizations (of course using the awesome d3.js). During one of these weeks, I saw a rip-off of the following tweet, the original 140 character guide to the creative process:

The Creative Process by @boltcity

The Creative Process by @boltcity

The stages of the creative process are: 1) This is going to be awesome 2) This is hard 3) This is terrible 4) I’m terrible 5) Hey, not bad 6) That was awesome.

At that time, I found myself squarely in stage 4: I AM TERRIBLE.

However, just reading this and then realising that that’s just how it has to work made me feel much better. Fast-forward to a week or so later, and I seem to find myself in stage 5. Stage 5 is not the best, but man does it feel infinitely better than stage 4. (If you run into me at any of the numerous bars, parties and other social events I frequent, ask me about the design.) Remember this process the next time you’re in the middle of something complicated.

(I was not able to come up with any kind of bridge between the creative process and my next point. I’m open to suggestions in the comments! For now, just imagine some pithy or really clever literary topic-jumping device here, ok?)

As the more astute readers should know (I guess that’s both of you), I was naturally into mindfulness before it got all hip. See my 2011 post on drowning in the now, and my 2010 post on focus if you don’t believe me. However, I wanted to get into it more formally, so I acquired and started practising with one of the better books on the topic: Mindfulness: A practical guide to peace in a frantic world. There are at least two things I really like about mindfulness:

  1. There’s quite a bit of solid research on mindfulness and its effects on your brain. See for example the publications on the website of Prof. Mark Williams, first author of the book above.
  2. The idea that practising different ways of applying one’s intellect (conventional doing vs. the mindful being) leads to the ability to enter these modes at will, thus getting more control over one’s emotions, especially appeals to me. (Click here to meet one of my most important role models. For real.)

The mindfulness book also discusses research on the interaction between one’s body and one’s emotional state. If you’re feeling down, your body starts acting up. Conversely, your physical state has a significant influence your emotional state. The upshot of this is that if you put a smile on your face, even if you’re not feeling particularly upbeat, Science says that you’ll really start to feel happier. If you’re already happy, it’s just going to consolidate those good vibes.

With that in mind, here’s my simple suggestion for today (and the rest of the year, and maybe next year): Let’s all smile as often as we can!