Most books on creativity describe the creative process as a solitary and isolated endeavor. Creativity is something we do alone. It requires total engagement in the process. The creative state is one that is similar to a meditative trance, in that the artist becomes unaware of his or her surroundings and is free of external judgment and self-evaluation. This space has been called by such names as "flow", "the zone", and "focus." It is a state of intense focus and openness where imagination is free to roam and the entire self is poured into expression and creation. However, until now, the artist has been left on his own to somehow find and enter into this state.
Although the act of creation usually requires isolation from others, both in external reality and in internal awareness, I believe that the capacity to move in and out of this space is determined by the artist's experience of connectedness with others. Rather than understanding the ability to enter the creative space as evidence of the artist's sheer will, I understand how certain kinds of relationships give the artist the strength and confidence to risk entering into this state. He or she can use relationships with other people and other realms (such as spirituality, experiencing the art of another, loving, learning, and parenting) to strengthen and support him or herself. And, vice versa, the artist can use the strength gained through the experience of creating to enhance his or her capacity to engage intimately with other people.
In effect, I would argue, the creative process involves the opposite of isolation and aloneness--it requires a capacity for CONNECTION. Viewing artistic blocks as understandable fears about connection can then help the artist identify what kinds of support he or she may need to enter into a creative state. The nature of our relationships, whether they strengthen or deflate us, can determine our feelings of strength and safety to immerse in creativity. When we become aware of how our relationships affect our basic feelings of safety and trust, we can then try to elicit more of what we need from others to help us along in our creative process.
In addition, artists not only require certain kinds of relationships with other people in order to create, but they also require an intense connection with the art form itself. An artist's work is experienced both as an expression of himself and as a distinct "other" that he is playing with, interacting with, and being guided by. It is almost as if the artwork develops its own life. The artist and his artwork engage in a kind of relationship that propels both of them forward toward further definition and clarity.
Because I understand the creative process as deeply embedded in the experience of connection, I will call this creative state IMMERSION. Creativity is a matter of immersing INTO SOMETHING ELSE so completely that one may feel, at times, entirely merged with (but also separate from) the artwork.
--Excerpt from STANDING AT WATER'S EDGE: MOVING PAST FEAR, BLOCKS, AND PITFALLS TO DISCOVER THE POWER OF CREATIVE IMMERSION (2008, New World Library)
Causes Anne Paris Supports
Savethechimps.org, Bonobokids.org, Elevate Hope Foundation