I vividly remember the first book I ever read about the creative process. It was a bright blue, frisky, spring day and I was taking a bus to Skerries, a town on the north Dublin coast, to see if it was a place where I might like to live. And I was reading, of course.
Then, as now, I was always reading or writing. That day, I was reading a book about writing, the most useful book about writing I was ever to read: Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande.
It was one of those reading experiences where you feel like the author is shining a torchlight into the recesses of your soul. Brande wrote so eloquently of what it was like to be an aspiring writer, which is what I was then, of:
…the dawning comprehension of all that a writer’s life implies: not easy daydreaming, but hard work at turning the dream into reality without sacrificing all its glamour.
A beginner writer:
…worries to think of his immaturity, and wonders how he ever dared to think he had a word worth saying. He gets as stagestruck at the thought of his unseen readers as any sapling actor. … He will read a work of a real genius in words, and the discrepancy between that gift and his own will seem a chasm to swallow his hopes. He will find a hundred reasons to doubt himself, and not one for self-confidence.
– Becoming A Writer. Dorothea Brande, 1934.
Brande not only knew how the challenge felt, she had the answer. Her book, she assured me, would reveal “the writer’s magic” that would see me “initiated into the brotherhood of authors”.
It was a bold claim and she delivered.
In many ways this Go Creative! series is my Thank You to Brande. A picking up of the baton she passed me and handing it on to a new generation. The baton is creative empowerment. A knowledge of how the creative process works, how creatives live, and how to tap our own creative potential at will.
With this series, I hand this baton on not just to authors—who must produce their books in very different conditions today to the world in which Brande wrote, and so need a different level of advice. I’m also addressing other creatives and creative entrepreneurs, which I define as those who are building a business around their passion or sense of mission.
Creativity is self-expression and for a creative entrepreneur, business can be as expressive of the inner landscape as a book is for a writer, as an artwork or performance is for the artist.
The same creative process is at play, whatever we’re creating. We need different craft and technical skills for writing a book, growing an audience, creating a product range, launching a project, but before we even start into developing the skill of our art or craft or trade, we need another skill. One that is more universal, that operates in similar ways for us all, whatever we’re making.
The ability to consciously tap our own creative flow.