Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Process, Not Product

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.
— Shunryu Suzukii

Over the weekend, I invited you to imagine how things would be different if you had received all the deep nurturing your child artist needed; as well as what your creative life might look like if you were old enough to no longer give a damn what anyone thinks.

(And of course, how old do you imagine that actually has to be?)

Part of our reluctance to actually commit to our creative passion is that we fear we don’t have time to get good at it. And as adults who have focused such a long, long time on being good at what we do, we often hate that feeling of starting over from scratch.

“As blocked creatives,” Julia tells us, “we like to pretend that a year or even several years is a long, long time…

“At the heart of the anorexia of artistic avoidance is the denial of process. We like to focus on having learned a skill or on having made an artwork. This attention to final form ignores the fact that creativity lies not in the done but in the doing.”

She emphasizes, however, that no creative act is every really finished. No one ever learns to act, because as an actor, you are always learning. Film directors are always redirecting their work, she confides, even years later. “You will know then what you might have done and what you will do next if you keep working. This doesn’t mean that the work accomplished is worthless. Far from it. It simply means that doing the work points the way to new and better work to be done.”

So today, I share with you what I think is one of the most powerful passages in the whole book; something that I have held dear for all these years, and something that I share all the time with my clients in the throes of change and challenge of every kind (not just artistic).
Julia writes:

“Focused on process, our creative life retains a sense of adventure. Focused on product, the same creative life can feel foolish or barren.”

She blames our consumer-obsessed society for infecting us with the idea that art actually produces a finished product. We see our work in terms of commodity, monetary value, and we measure ourselves against standards of someone else’s commercial success and fame that are often downright absurd.

This is at the very heart of so much that blocks us from ever even starting, or that banishes our early attempts to be locked away in the basement closet. “We, as working artists,” she writes, “may want to explore a new artistic area, but we don’t see where it will get us. We wonder if it will be good for our career.

“Fixated on the need to have something to show for our labors, we often deny our curiosities. Every time we do this, we are blocked.”

Has this happened to you? Can you see where this is a possible hazard for you right now? Please share.

Share this:

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • October 6, 2009, 6:29 am Susannah

    I see this in me all the time; however, I believe I am beginning to shift and change and follow my curiosities more…just like my children do and like I did when I was a child.

    I am going through a divorce right now, so when I apply what you have said to my situation, I see how easy it is to get caught up in the unknowns of the "end result" when the truth is that each step in this process reveals itself at the perfect time. "The river knows how to flow," as my friend, Matt says.

    Beautiful blog. Thank you so much. I NEED this blog right now. 😉



  • October 6, 2009, 7:45 am Star

    <<"Fixated on the need to have something to show for our labors, we often deny our curiosities. Every time we do this, we are blocked.”
    Has this happened to you? Can you see where this is a possible hazard for you right now?>>

    Yes, this has happened to me. I am feeling the need to produce income from my art jewelry in order to offset the costs of the materials. (Of course, I have gone overboard with the gathering of beautiful beads, pens, and other materials – my financial dilema!) I was disappointed this past weekend that I had created a lovely display of necklaces and earrings that were set up at a friend's booth for a very well attended Fall Foilage festival in town. I only sold one pendant and it was not one that I had made myself! I was really disappointed. Today, I am back at the my work table continuing with the PROCESS! I have several gifts I want to create, I have a request from a friend for 5 bracelets, and I have some necklaces I want for me. I am still excited about the process and each unique piece that emerges, even when I find I make something over 2 or 3 times to get it to fit the image I have in my mind. I was a bit discouraged on Sunday, but am back to the creative process today.


  • October 6, 2009, 4:08 pm denise

    As a child/teen I wrote my short stories and poetry for "Me", but as an adult, I no longer can just create w/o the voices in my head pestering me about writing in a style that people prefer/demand, or to concentrate on subjects that have no emotional meaning to me, but because I figure that is what is wanted from readers.
    I do miss the days of just writing the odd bits that pop into my head and then let them carry me away to create a poem that vibrates through me.

    Once again you have shared a wonderful quote that is going into my notebook!