Monday, June 27, 2011

Managing Your Life As A Creative Person: Your Creative Lifecycle.

Have you ever noticed how authors and other creative artists have a hard time keeping a routine schedule for more than a few months or weeks? This is an amazing phenomenon for people who typically are perfectionists and have high expectations for their work and careers.

Authors and other creative people go through creative cycles I call the “Creative Phoenix” because of the periods of death and resurrection.

Creative Birth or Resurrection: (Spring)
Your Creative Phoenix is born either through weeks of preparation or is born instantly when an idea pops into your head or you wake up from an inspiring dream.
This young creative idea is fresh, new and exciting. Even though the creative project is in the fragile beginning stages, you feel a drive to enhance it and help it blossom into a full grown novel, article, illustration, etc.

Creative Youth: (Summer)
Eventually this creative fire reaches a peak of intensity. The creative project will constantly be on your mind. You will think of dialogue in the shower or a new scene will come to you while you’re driving or while at the gym. This is the time to always keep your notebook handy.

During this peak time you can do your best work. You don't feel the panic or doubt of developing a new born idea. You, as the author or artist are absorbed in your work and can experience adrenalin rushes and extra creative energy that will drive you to stay up late, get up early, skip meals, take time off work, etc. to work on the project. Sometimes you will have euphoric thoughts like, “This is going to be the next best seller or agents are going to throw themselves at me to sell this book. I should start querying now.”

Creative Maturity: (Autumn) The mature Creative Phoenix is an idea that has been worked over. Let’s say if you are writing a book, this would be your refining and editing process. You start thinking about your publishing options, you hire an editor or cover designer, you get feedback from beta readers, etc.
This is the best time to edit because you can step back from the work and look at it with a critical eye without interrupting your creative flow.

Creative Natural Death: (Winter)
A natural end to a creative period is normal, yet sometimes authors will feel guilty for not working on a project or they may miss the “rush” of a new project.

This is when your project is concluding, such as writing the last chapter, or your creative rush is over and you need to step away from the project for a while.

For many artists and authors this can be a depressing time. They know they should be working on a project and they want to work, but they don’t have that drive they once had. Some people mistake this period of time as writer’s block, but it's part of the natural cycle of creativity.

During this time you need to focus on “nesting”. Yes, it’s what mothers do before they have a baby. They get everything ready for when the baby comes. For creative people this is the time to prepare for the next project. Personally, the better I prepare, the longer my creative lifecycle will last. This is when you catch up on housework, fix things, set appointments you've been putting off, clean your inbox, stock up on frozen meals, spend time with family, get out and be social, ETC. Get your life ready for when your phoenix is reborn.

Don't be discouraged that you aren’t writing. This is normal. Just think of it as a preparation time.

Creative Murder:
Your creative phoenix can be murdered by inside or outside sources. This is when you are in the beginning or middle stages of a creative project and something happens to kill that creativity.

The murder weapon could be a depressing rejection letter, an unusual amount of stress, illness, worry over finances, self-doubt, etc.

When a creative period is disrupted, the author usually will feel discouragement or depression over loosing the "steam" on their project as well as the added stress and trauma of the event that disrupted their creative period.

Whatever part of the cycle you are in, know that this is a normal process and enjoy it.


  1. I'm not depressed - I'm taking a breather!

  2. That is very much how it happens for me. Great description :)

  3. Great analysis. If I can't work on one project, I'm likely to pick up another. Though I'm planning a reading vacation the first two weeks of July. No writing; just reading.

  4. This is a wonderful description. I love being in that Creative Youth stage. Yet there is more of a feeling of accomplishment in the Creative Maturity stage.

  5. Thank you for the blog award, Deirdra! Now a follower, too. I love your blog, too! :) And this post is so awesome!

  6. I totally agree. This is why I write several games simultaneously. When one of them goes into decline, I can switch off to a new project and let the creative juices keep flowing.

  7. Thank You for the blog award, and I must say, your blog is oh-so-beautiful!! I'm now an official follower ;-)) And this is a great post on the cycle of writing.

  8. Great post! Very timely for me. I just recently reached the murder stage. Work just got too crazy and I felt all my creativity drained from me. UGGHHH! But I'm beginning to come out of it now.

  9. Interesting post! It was extremely gratifying to find out that I have been "nesting."

    I thought I was procrastinating. :)

    Seriously, though, good stuff here!

  10. This was an awesome post! I totally agree with it all.

  11. While I'm not really a "writer" (right now, at least- lol!), this completely hit home with me! I'm definitely an artist, though my mediums are as varied as the projects I create, and I never had a word for this process! Thank you! I'm going to print this and put it in my files so that I can look at it when I'm depressed about not working or creating and I can see that it's a part of the cycle. I award you 10,000 Awesomeness Points for this post! :)

  12. Wow! This idea is very enlightening for me. Liberating, even. Thanks so much.

  13. thank you SO much for posting this. i think i've been through all of those in the last year, just with one project. i know 2 things that finally killed the creative process for me - getting my house ready to sell (which has taken a seemingly endless amount of my time and mental energy) and the fact that i was trying to write my story for everyone but me. you've given me something to hang onto and i'm very grateful. i'm looking forward to the day (hopefully soon) when my creative phoenix will rise and live again. (ironically, that may be when i move out of the City of Phoenix.)

  14. Excellent post! Just finished my first manuscript and currently procrastinating during the beginning of my second one. Happy to know my creativity isn't completely broken! :)

  15. I never thought about it like this, but it makes a lot of sense. Great post!

  16. Way to go, Deirdra. When I don't want to write - or check email - or sort and file my snail mail - or any dull household task, I pick up my crochet hook, my knitting, or a puzzle, or better still a loved book to re-read. I called it lazy. Glad to change it to 'nesting'. I'm also amazed that a youngster like you is so smart and talented. Thanks.

  17. Awesome blog. Thanks for letting me now about it. And great post. I hope to get to the end ones soon.

  18. A great post Deirdra! It's interesting to look at the process of writing in cycles. I can definitely relate. I went through a creative murder stage on my blog but now after a break, I'm fired up and back at the creative birth stage.

    Thank you also for my blog award. I appreciate your recognition and kind words.

    Renee :)

  19. What a wonderful and encouraging perspective this is!

    I'm a big fan of the concept of "creative destruction" - Joseph Schumpeter applied this as an economic theory, but I find it's applicable more broadly. For me, the idea that I take things apart in order to build with them is actually comforting - Nothing Ever Really Dies...

  20. Yep, creative murder. Sounds about right. Now if only I could tap into the other parts of the cycle :-)Great blog, as always, Deidra!

  21. Thanks for sharing this! I do tend to stress out when I'm not in a down period of the creative cycle--but I love the idea of a cyclical nature!

  22. Great job Deidre!
    Love your article.

  23. I found this post very encouraging. I'm going through a bit of a lull with my current WIP. The idea is there, pieces of it are coming together, but I just don't feel ready to write it.

    Hopefully my Creativity Phoenix will shake off the ashes soon...

  24. Great post. I have always wondered about this "weird cycle" I get into when I try to take my creativity to the next step. You have truly opened my eyes and now I understand. Thank you.


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