The Creative Process is More Important than the End Result
Reviewing selections of Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self by Don Hahn
“As hard as you may try, you can’t guarantee a positive reaction to your personal brand of creativity.”
Ain’t that the truth?! As hard as we all might try, each one of us creatives may never see or feel the success we so badly crave. That doesn’t mean that if at first we don’t succeed…we need to pack our bag, tools, or materials and quit (This isn’t Pitch Perfect — poor Aubrey).
So what do we do? We keep on creating with our ideas, hands, bodies, tools, instruments, and creative brains — no matter what.
Throughout history, creatives have struggled with success, and more often than not, find it well-after they’re gone from this world. This is when Hahn references an artist, musician, writer, and comedian who, during their time and shortly after the original inception of their work, found little to no success. These now-famous and well-respected individuals are Vincent Van Gogh, Wolfgang Mozart, Herman Melville, and Jerry Seinfeld. Besides their initial lack of [financial or otherwise] success, what’s the common thread that ties them together? For Hahn, it’s their “drive to create, regardless of the outcome.” These creatives were committed to their craft — day in, day out — no matter what happened, “regardless of the perceived success or failure of their work,” and no matter what else was going on in their lives.
Next, we need to examine the idea of “SUCCESS” and what it means to each of us. So, when you see the following equation, which part do you focus on? Which part do you see as most important?
Ideas + Materials + Process + Quality + Marketing = Success & Money
In Hahn’s book, he mentions that our capitalist system pushes us towards tangible success, which forces us to weigh our success or failure by reviews and financial rewards. By focusing on the end-products, rather than the process and journey of the creation, Hahn believes we set ourselves up for a life of boredom, stress, and tension. He notes that in our goal-oriented lives, we lose track of the earlier parts of the equation — the ideas, materials, and quality of work — that are the soul of our truly remarkable creations. Can’t quite relate to this? Think of creative production as a big, long vacation where, during your journey, you create many memories and do all sorts of interesting things. Then, when it’s time for you to return home, you and your family/friends recount and revel in the highs and lows of the trip itself— not the deadline of returning home. Sound relatable? That’s because “the arrival home means very little; the journey means everything. A creative journey is the same.” “When you focus on the journey and not the arrival, then your art becomes more like a treasured artifact of the creative process. A painting, a poem, a sketch, or a piece of music that you’ve written becomes a record or your life — a souvenir of the creative process, just as much as the photos are an artifact of your unforgettable travels…”
What do you now think is the most important part of the equation? While finances may always be a notable aspect that we all wish for, do you now place more importance on the process, rather than the end result? Do you see how reveling in every minute of the creative process can make for a more substantial, true, and well-loved journey? Conversely, if we all continuously focus on the end result and the deadline, we will likely miss out on the inspired works that keep us motivated and engaged in our creative selves. When creatives create something, most want someone else to love it just as much as we do. Call us needy or narcissistic, but the craving for acceptance is real. However, when you create —simply to create for yourself or that idea that drives you forward — something else happens. This something may not be appreciated by anyone else, but it can hold your heart and fill you with purpose because it’s all your own and it’s a piece of you — it’s what you built and it’s your artifact.