creative intentions for creativists

As this recent post points out, productivity is not creativity. Productivity planners, timetables, SMART goals and the like can be too detailed and prescriptive for creatives and creativists, who also prefer to harness the the power of the subconscious mind, rather than relying too heavily on resolution and willpower.

It is certainly possible to produce something using that kind of motivation, but it tends to prove more successful for smaller and more concrete tasks. The approach is too managerial, too rational, too conscious for our deepest wants.

What’s missing is a tap into the vast reservoir of our imaginative and creative depths.

It all starts with intention.

Setting a good intention is, arguably, the most important step in the creative process.

In this post, you’ll be brought through a variety of thoughts and exercises around framing a good creative intention.

This is an extract from How To Create Anything, publishing this month. To find out more, click to sign up for a free Go Creative! Starter pack

Resolutions and goals harness the power of the conscious will. Creative Intention knows behavior is driven by both conscious and unconscious energy and puts a lot of focus on the power of the imagination.

We bring the imagination not just to the end product we hope to create but to the process that will create it. We imagine and feel what we’re trying to make, through the inner and outer senses, and find ways to work with the intention ( and play and rest with it) imaginatively.


A Creative Intention is Non-judgemental

Goals often come with a mindset that see you as flawed, in need of fixing. The motivation for change is shame and guilt. Creative intention recognizes that you are good enough as you are, that your desires and wants are there to lead you to what you most need to know.

F-r-e-e-write your answers to this question:Have I been setting goals that see me as flawed, in need of improvement, in some way insufficient until I achieve this? How might I turn that around, switch my thinking?


A Creative Intention is Positive

We all have a psychological bias towards the negative. We think negative things are more important than positive things. We give more attention to negative feelings than we give to positive feelings. Which is why we frame goals that are trying to correct something wrong rather than move towards what we want. We talk about losing weight, rather than the body we want to have, for example.

F-r-e-e-write this: Frame your intention as a positive proposal, an opening to something you’d enjoy.(“I’d love to…” “Wouldn’t it be great if…”)


A Creative Intention is Selective

Creative Intention recognizes that you can have anything you want but you can’t have everything you want. It sets intention within the framework of your truest values and priorities. It’s not about accumulating more and more, it’s about selection; about choice and commitment. You get a maximum of seven options on your Creative Maps.

F-r-e-e-write your answer to this question: What do you most value?


A Creative Intention is Expressive

Goals and resolutions often aim to control and contain behavior. Creative intention focusses on expressing your deepest self.

F-r-e-e-write this: “I want to create_____________( fill in the blank with what you want to make) because I want to express my __________________ ( fill in the blank with a deeply held value or characteristic).”


A Creative Intention Is Focussed

The core of creative intention is contained and directed creative attention “I’m setting up a desk in the back room so I can write 500 words a day before leaving for work in the morning,” for example.

F-r-e-e-write this: I’m going to work on my intention here_______________ (a place) and at this time each day/week __________(a time)

A Creative Intention is Forever

A goal is something you tick off on a to-do list and Oscar Wilde best expressed the inevitable failure of willpower and resolution when he said New Year’s Resolutions “go in one year and out another.”

A creative intention is held in place until it is fulfilled, and becomes part of you, and then a new intention takes its place. So it’s an ongoing process, a way of living. Or else it is dropped.

A want dropped is as good as a want delivered. Both keep us moving, growing, changing, evolving.

So Creative Mapping will recognize that there are times when we no longer want, or don’t really, truly want, what we said or thought we wanted. When that realization comes, we don’t keep driving ourselves on, just because that is who we once were.

So finally, it’s time now to frame your creative intention.  Frame it like this: I am going to create __________________ by _________

The first blank is the thing or experience you are going to create, the second the date by which you will have made it.

Love whatever it is you’re calling up here. Be true to yourself.

Don’t do what others think you should do, or what you think might be easiest to do, but what that deeper down whisper in your gut knows you really want to do (even if, probably especially if, another part of you is hissing that you can’t do it, you’ve tried so many times, you’ve never done it before, yadda, yadda, yadda).

And set a date that gives you plenty of time to enjoy the ride.

So go ahead, frame it:

I am going to create __________________ by _________

Next time we’ll focus on how that intention is brought through incubation and exploration, the next two stages of the creative process.