Reviewing selections of “Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self” by Don Hahn
Expression can be defined as the process of making known one’s thoughts or feelings; a word or a phrase used to convey an idea; the conveying of a feeling in a person’s face/voice, in a work of art, in the performance of a piece of music, or in a brand’s identity.
When you decide to create something — be it artwork, your personal brand, your company’s identity — do you fully express how you feel and how you want others to feel, what you want to see and what you want others to see? You should. Do your thoughts and impressions flow from you without inhibition? They should. Here’s why:
As each of us grow into or further along into adulthood, we continuously edit ourselves to avoid embarrassment, to fit into certain molds, or to maintain some element of social acceptance. As we do this, Hahn says our childlike self’s “play” (whether that be silliness, fun, or uninhibited creativity) slowly turns to work. In doing so, we start to lose the part of ourselves that allow the natural expression of our thoughts and our creations. In essence, we lose ourselves, our best thoughts, our greatest possible creations.
To remedy this — and regain the ability to offer uninhibited expression of one’s self — Hahn suggests that we return to some form of inner child-like play by “suppress[ing] our inner editor,” thereby expressing ourselves in “natural and uninhibited ways.” If we shut-down the inner editor — the one that tells us “it’s no good,” “no one will like this,” or “no one will buy this” — and stop trying to intellectualize or over-think the creative process by removing all elements of pre-conceived self-judgment, maybe then we’ll be able to find true inspiration, true creativity, and something truly unique. Maybe then we’ll be able to appreciate the creative process — with all of its wins and fails — to find our greatest inner creative. Maybe then, we’ll be able to create without care — just as we did as children.
Think you’re expressionless — emotionally, artistically, or otherwise? You’re not. Each of us contain ideas — bits and pieces of content that make us who we are. Hahn calls these impressions. “Every day, our senses bombard us with a spectrum of impressions. These impressions imprint powerfully on our souls. We keep these impressions inside, where they build up and clog our drains, or we can spill them out in wonderful, flowing expressions of how we interpret life.” Don’t think creativity or finding your truest form of expression is worth the effort? Hahn does. To his core, Hahn believes it is worth the effort, just as he believes life is worth living and air is with breathing. He states: “We are meant to express the way we feel about life. It’s like breathing: inhale the experiences of life, exhale how you feel about them. We are at our best when we can turn our impressions into expressions. The equation goes like this: impression without expression equals depression.” Bottom line: “We create because we have to.” Hahn finds further connections to the creative process and life when he details how the creative process is much like life’s creative process itself — including the ever-present need to find attraction, create, sustain, and love what we create. The left-hand column shows nature’s creative path to create more life, while the right-hand column represents the creative process of our minds and hands.
Nature’s Creative Process vs. Textbook Description of the Creative Process:
Step 1: Spark of Dating
Step 2: Conception
Step 3: Gestation
Step 4: Birth
Step 5: Raising a Child
Step 1: The Idea
Step 2: Immersion
Step 3: Incubation
Step 4: The “Eureka” Moment
Step 5: Verification
In real life, the steps may be a little less linear, they’ll surely be different for everyone, and they may look a little something more like this:
The Real Journey
Step 1: Hunting
Step 2: Gathering
Step 3: Hesitation and Fear
Step 4: Frustration and Dead-Ends
Step 5: Constipation — No Breakthroughs
Step 6: Improvisation — Trying More Possibilities
Step 7: Procrastination
Step 8: Immersion — Thinking and Absorbing
Step 9: Inspiration — The “Eureka” Moment
Step 10: Perspiration — The Hard Work
Take these ideas and steps and find a way to turn off your inner-editor. Make it your time to unabashedly create. Use all the thoughts, knowledge, inspiration, and impressions you’ve gained in your lifetime to make something truly your own. Do it now!