In my last post, I talked about the power of questions. And while it is generally important to answer those questions in order to move forward in your creative work, it may be equally important to learn to sit with them for a while.
One of the most often overlooked steps of the creative process is incubation. I suspect it is because we live in a world of immediacy. Everyone seems to want everything now. We feel rushed to make decisions and move forward. Creative work is expected to be delivered in a fraction of the time it used to be before computers, email and the cloud. We send off short, hurried emails to family and friends rather than taking time to handwrite thoughtful letters and carry them to the post office. Admittedly, there are times immediacy is nice. But in the creative process, taking some time to mull over the possibilities and to allow your brain to make new, unexpected connections is where some of your best ideas come from.
Among the characteristics of creative individuals is the ability to live with ambiguity--not being afraid of not knowing. And I've discovered through trial and error that when I reach the point in the creative process where the answer just isn't coming, where I don't know what to do, or when I feel really frustrated--sometimes that I'm may even be at a dead end, that's when I walk away from it all. Not forever, just for a while. Maybe for a walk with the dog. Maybe to sleep on it over night. Or maybe to set it aside and work on something else for a while. I've learned to trust my subconscious to work on the questions while I go about other business. So while it may appear that I'm procrastinating, I'm really just allowing ideas to incubate. There is power in going back to a project with a fresh perspective.