Changing Patterns: Discovering the Fabric of Your Creativity
By Daena Giardella and Wren Ross
Hay House, 2006, $14.95
Book review by Debby Wiesen Kelly
This interesting and real-life book about creativity and changing patterns is provided in two parts: Part I, “Exploring your Creative Process” was authored by Daena Giardella, and Part II, “Knitting as a Metaphor for Life,” was written by Wren Ross.
I will focus entirely on examining Part 1 – in particular the topics of uncovering elements of the creative process, attempting to explain creative chaos, and sharing the wisdom of the author.
Exploring the Creative Process
The author believes creativity and process are inseparable. The word “process” comes from the French word proces, which means journey. The creative process is a journey transitioning you from concept to outcome.
Some business experts such as David Pink believe creativity is an important and highly valued skill. In his book, A Whole New Mind, Pink observes, “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a different kind of mind – in particular, creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people are artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, and big-picture thinkers who will reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”
Another essential ingredient to creativity is curiosity. Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
Psychological Stages of the Creative Process
Giardella believes creativity is a journey of investigation, change, and refinement, and as ideas grow and change you evolve through the process. She proposes that the creative process depends on mastering both proficiency (technique) and “emotional dexterity” to steer through the many psychological stages and emotions that may arise. The stages include: the itch, the wow of inspiration, the quest for more information, marinating a new concept, the laboratory of new approaches, deflation if the idea doesn’t work, the wall, the wake, the glimmer of hope, testing (try again), the reunion of original inspiration, reconnecting with the creative process, and finally, the resolve to stop at nothing.
Learning your Creative Work Cycles
Some of the important elements of the work cycle in the creative process include: preparation, inspiration, envisioning, experimentation, rediscovery, filtering, and the execution of your plan. Timing is everything and the author thinks that pushing yourself into a cycle which conflicts with your day is a mistake many people make when creating. She recommends quiet observation to solve problems and listening to the needs of your creative self.
This crisis usually occurs when you hit the wall during the creative process. Your inner voice says “I can’t, I won’t,” or maybe “I shouldn’t.” Chaos may be the symptom of impending changes. The crisis does pass.
An example of this is the writer getting past writer’s block. What’s really happening? Giardella thinks you are confronting an old belief from a former self. The stronger and more resilient you are the more likely you can accept the lessons learned from this stage.
Another aspect of creative chaos is navigating the mess. She says, “Inspiration rarely comes in a neat orderly package that directs you to Heat for five minutes and Serve.” Giardella thinks the best way to get through the mess is to keep your eyes, ears, body, mind, and heart open.
Learning to identify and change your “counterproductive patterns” is vital when on a path to mastery. Aristotle is credited with saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Although not actually from Aristotle, this quote still provides worthwhile wisdom.
The author suggests keeping a journal about experiences, goals, and progress. One can reflect on past projects and create a road map for support for the next time there is chaos.
Befriending Your Inner Editor and Other Wisdom from the Author
- •The author assumes the inner editor’s job is to help you make choices about what to develop, revise, reconsider, embellish, or delete. It is that discriminating eye that aides decision-making without the self-judgment that is associated with an inner critic. The inner editor supports the creative process.
- The webs of perfectionism and comparison: Perfectionism is a pointless pursuit and a diversion from the goal of excellence. Comparison sets the stage for winners and losers. There are no losers in creativity -— everyone wins.
- Creativity is a process of intentional change. Sometimes a fog can conceal a great idea. Trust the process and be open to new inspiration.
- Working with structure and the capacity to improvise are both part of the creative process. Structure provides practice, and practice leads to proficiency. Improvisation involves trial and error and often leads to discoveries and breakthroughs. Giardella believes “curiosity and trust fuel the engines of improvisation.”
Have fun, Katherine Hephurn said. “If you obey all the rules, you miss the fun!”
Daena Giradella wants to leave the reader with a final thought. She too wants you to have fun and says “without joy, your work will feel tedious and meaningless.” Giardella suggests bringing humor with you whenever you try to climb an overwhelming obstacle.
I would add to bring a positive attitude to your work and life. Things will get better!
For Debby Wiesen Kelly’s biographical sketch please see her review of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.