The creative process is not about producing art. Creativity is the process of change. It can be radical, or it can be mundane, but it always involves the reworking of raw material into something new. The most frequently worked material? Ourselves.
The fundamental work of the artist is a spiritual process. The work of transformation that occurs when we perform the creative process on the raw material of our own identity. We choose to be vulnerable, to pry open our feelings, to strip bare the defenses of years.
Everyone’s art and creative process is different. We operate in different mediums, on different scales, in different timeframes. But what we are producing is not the piece of art. The work is but an artifact. It is what is spit out of the process as we continue on to the next thing.
Consider the great civilizations of the world. Some of the artifacts are massive. Some are great pyramids, true wonders of the world, and some are smaller, a discarded relic from a ritual, a bowl for soup. These civilizations didn’t produce these artifacts for us to find them. They were what was left over after they transformed into something else.
We live in a culture obsessed with products. But you cannot produce art through a focus on the artwork itself. Art is an artifact of the process of transformation. As we do the spiritual work of the creative process, we are transformed. The pyramids were built one stone at a time in the service of the afterlife of the empress. What do you build in service of your afterlife? Confront your death on the page, at your instrument, at the altar of whatever art you practice, and you will discover.
Do not be concerned with what comes out. It is not your place to judge its quality, only its truth as a reflection of your process. As your process evolves, so too will the artifacts. One day, you will be able to perform an archeology of the self, and in it you will map your transformation.