A note to new readers: This post is part seven of a seven-part series. I’d highly recommend starting at the beginning as each post builds on the last.
The Room Out Back
In most cases, the Writerly Play rooms are quiet, and often solitary spaces. Sometimes I find it useful to invite collaborators into the Studio or the Workshop. However, the Station is unique in that it is always a social place. For that reason, I like to picture it as a little separate from the other rooms. It’s out back, and work doesn’t end up in the Station until I’m ready to physically move it there.
The culmination of a creative process is usually the sharing of what has been created. We can gauge our success by the effect of our work on the people who experience it. Does it create the experience or communicate in the way we hoped? When it comes to living a creative life, we might find ourselves in the Station when we are ready to tell the story of an important experience. By shaping our experience into a story, we make it tangible for ourselves. When we share the story, we provide helpful perspective for others, too.
It’s important to seek feedback not only at the very end of the creative process—when it’s often too late to change much about the work—but also along the way at healthy intervals. While the feedback comes from others, there are still skills we must build to make the most of the Station. We must learn to listen, to translate the feedback into possibilities, to clarify our focus, and to plan next actions. Ultimately, no one knows the heart of the work the way you do—it’s yours, after all—and so it’s up to you to come up with what to do about any problems that others identify.
Let’s do a quick self-assessment of the state of your Station.
- Do you have a community of people from whom you can seek feedback?
- Do you have strategies for framing your feedback requests so that the insight you receive is fitting for your current stage of the creative process?
- Do you have tools for collecting and sorting through feedback?
- Do you have strategies for reflecting on feedback and generating practical steps forward?
- Do you have a safe person or two with whom to work through any blocks that might arise from surprising feedback?
Everyone has blind spots. Whenever you open yourself up for feedback, there is always the potential of being knocked off track. Yet, being knocked off track when you can still revise and recover is better than launching a creative work into the world only to learn that it doesn’t connect. Or worse, to learn that it communicates something you never meant to say. The Station plays a key role in the creative process—in your development as a creative person, in the development of your work, and in the ultimate value of what is produced.
A First Step
If you tell everyone—including yourself—that you are not creative, you will live up to your reputation. However, we’ve already established that you ARE creative. Creativity is a skill to be developed. You may not be ready to take your creative work into the Station right now. However, you surely have someone in your life who could be a strong support to you (and whom you could support in turn!) as you begin to intentionally develop your creativity. Take a few minutes to call that person or to write them a note. If you have a specific project you’d like to dive into, put your vision into words. If not, simply share your commitment to develop your creativity overall. Ask for the opportunity to connect in a month or so to report on how things are going. In this way, you’ll give yourself some accountability.
As we wrap up our Writerly Play tour, let’s return to the definition of creativity we explored in part one of The Nuts and Bolts of Writerly Play. (Thank you, Sir. Robinson!) Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. By working our way through the five Writerly Play rooms, we are able to dream up something new, craft it into something valuable, and launch it into the world.
While there is much more to explore when it comes to the creative process, we learn best by rolling up our sleeves, trying things out, and learning along the way. I’ll be posting resources, strategies, stories and tools here on the blog relating to each of the five Writerly Play rooms. I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation with you, and learning together as we tackle the creative challenges that come our way. Here’s to you and your creativity!