The beauty of the creative life is that there is no field guide to living it. Every creative lives their truth their way and the path is hidden from view until you choose to take a step. No two people’s creative journey’s look the same, even when we all listen to the same podcasts or follow the same feeds for inspiration and motivation.
To cultivate a creative life and develop a path forward with creativity flexibility is paramount. There has to be room for trial and error in your pursuit of your own creative progress. Most creatives are drawn to this path because of their desire for flexibility in their lives. It stands to reason then that flexibility, and more importantly adaptability, is integral to evolving on your creative path leading to overall growth and realization in your creativity. The key isn’t to always be moving forward, but to never allow yourself to stay stuck, but progress. This might mean changing course entirely or pausing to explore a space you find joy in, but progress, learning, abundance should always be at the forefront, trumping forward momentum in favour of championing development.
These three components - adaptability, evolution, and growth - are the consistent stepping stones every creative traverses on their path of progress. These stepping stones may not look the same between us, but the outcomes and meaning making that results from these touchstone moments is invaluable on the individual creative journey.
The first of these stepping stones ties right into the idea of living with increased flexibility and freedom to center yourself on your creativity and living a mindful, beautiful life of meaning and self care. Creatives need to be adaptable to survive and thrive in their creative spheres. Because we are foreign ahead in the dark on our own, we have to adapt as we learn and progress. If something is not feeling right in our creative practice or our work isn’t getting any traction as we launch a business or the discipline we’ve chosen isn’t fulfilling our creative needs, then we need to learn to pivot and adapt our practice to meet those needs and goals that further our progression as confident, fully realized creatives. Adapting isn’t a sign that something went wrong, it’s a sign that you are developing a creative intuition, a strength in curiosity, a willingness to try new experiences to progress down your path, even if that means going in a circle, or doubling back or taking a side quest. When life sends you spiraling in a new direction, being able to adapt is essential, and on the creative journey things will always be a kaleidoscope of changes. Adaptation is a skill we can develop, it is a mark of survival, and our creative life will face many challenges that will threaten its vibrancy; our ability to adapt is what allows us to keep our heads above water and nurture a creative path in our lives.
Once we leap from the stepping stone of adaptability, we begin the next phase of development: our creative evolution. Mastering the ability to pivot and change direction keeps our creativity fresh and exciting, but once we find the creative practice that makes our heart sing, it’s time to hunker down and progress in our craft and confidence. This is the stage of going from the caterpillar to the butterfly, the stage of evolution. From finding our consistency in the creative practice to learning new skills to sheath in our creative tool belts, we begin to evolve from the beginner to the apprentice, to the devotee and finally, to mastery. This line of evolution is not always linear. We often find ourselves revisiting the apprentice phase of our evolution. Each time we level up in our creativity in each stage, we revisit a period of research and intense learning, collecting knowledge and refining skills. Our evolution is not only in craftsmanship. We evolve in our confidence, in our practice, in the way we engage with and champion our creativity. Our evolution on the creative path is one of opportunity and abundance. Evolution is an accumulation of knowledge and skill that is refined until we can produce our creative visions and watch the progress flow. The creative’s ability to evolve is a lesson in patience and devotion.
Once we embrace the ride of creative evolution, growth is the final outcome. Though it is a result of the work and energy put into developing the creative path through adaptability and the transcendence of evolution, growth still takes time. This is not the development of a practice or learning of skills. Growth is the self actualization, the artist, the maker, the doer, coming into focus. The emotional and spiritual understanding that manifests both in the context of the creative journey and in the personal development of the creative. This takes reflection on our projects, the work of digging into the why of what we do, what we want to say, how we manifest our emotions into the world and share our creativity with the wider world. Growth is the difference between timidity and mentorship, self doubt and self care, making to produce work and making to heal wounds. We will all experience periods of growth at different times and in different ways. Again, the whole point of growth is to continue to progress through your creative journey, not to believe that once a period of growth happens, we are done progressing. There is always more to learn, about ourselves and about our need for creativity.
Some paths may be short, some long and winding. They will not always lead through beautiful fields of flowers and winding rivers. They may have you trudge through darkness, through swamp lands that drag you down. However, if we keep on the lookout for those three crucial stepping stones all along our road, we will progress. We will build a path that is entirely our own, and come to appreciate the journey for the beautiful, winding, jarring, scary, incredible ride that it is.