Developing a Creative Process

“What do artists know that business people need to know?”

The answer: “The creative process,” says Professor Cathy Anderson, professor at Queens University of Charlotte, who led a faculty workshop during the Fall 2011 opening events.

People are all creative. The question is, how do you develop a personal creative process?Andersonis no stranger to the creative process having been a lawyer, provost, clog-dancing coach, organist, typist, and author of mystery novels under the pen name “Cathy Pickens.”

Characteristics of a creative process include trying multiple paths, investigating options, willingness to fail, and the ability to give a receive feedback. Artists are never satisfied with the end product, so they learn to give and receive critiques and to critique their own work. Artists surround themselves with people that inspire them.

Anderson developed her own version of the creative process which she shared with the faculty. The first step is capturing your ideas. Anderson recommends a journal and forced writing for engaging this part of the process. The second step is to “ramble” – take some time to change what you experience in life. Then, identify time and space to engage and focus on the process.

We often miss the opportunity to find time and space because we fear rejection, we fear wasting time, and we fear failure. Anderson reported that Google gives it’s employees “20% time” – 20% of employee time can be spent working on whatever the employee chooses. This 20% time has produced 50% of the company’s new ideas.

Once we focus and create a space for productivity, we can act by invest time toward the process and it’s product. After time spent developing, share it with a core group of people to get their feedback. This editing process that Anderson calls “tweaking” incorporates a critique of ideas and requires honest feedback.

In the final step, look to expand the creative process. The more ideas you see of others, the more ideas you’ll have.

According to Anderson, dancer Twyla Tharp identified failures that could destroy the creative process: failures of skill, concept, judgement, nerve, repetition, and denial. These are the personal stumbling blocks to avoid. But creativity can also be killed by others. The role of faculty could be to encourage creativity by allowing students the room to fail, the opportunity to ramble, and the time and space to focus.

Anderson is available to speak to corporate and artistic groups and share her experiences with creativity. To book Cathy Anderson or see a list of her upcoming speaking engagements visit Cathy Pickens online.

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