Your Creative Process is Mostly Just A Mess

Studies show it’s true.

Look, I get it. You dearly want a neat, multi-step process for getting from idea to finished novel. Maybe there are people out there who are able to go step by glorious well-defined step and end up with a work that pleases them (and, ideally, others).

Most of us are not of that people.

Sure, maybe from really far away your process has discrete steps, but when you’re in the thick of each step, it feels like you’re wading through gray goo. If the outer casing of your process is a discrete layer of attractive chocolate, the inside is a confusion of nougat. Hell, Scott Belsky, founder of Behance, even wrote a book about it.

I offer this, not as vehicle for complaint, but one of acknowledgement, a fast car for you to ride all the way to acceptance of this fact.

jeff vandermeer's map of the writer's journey from Wonderbook
This about sums up the winding path to a more-or-less finished work, from Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer.

Of course, despite all evidence to the contrary, we want our writing to flow from us in a perfect, finished state. However, after a year of co-hosting The Creative Doubleshot podcast and digging into my own creative process/practice, I’ve learned that the messy middle not only doesn’t go away, but it is also the place where the good feelings occur, those moments of discovery, the satisfaction of seeing things slowwwwwwwly come together.

Embrace that stuff, savor the nougat while you’re covered in it. Eventually, it will be behind you and you might even find that you miss it.

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