“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon
The first time I picked up a brush to paint I was 28 years old. I had never painted before, not even as a child. I couldn’t draw (except lousy little doodles) and never even thought I would enjoy painting.
A friend of mine encouraged me to take a workshop about painting for process. Since she pushed so hard, I went.
My world exploded open.
On the first day, we stood next to a long table where cups of colorful bright thick Tempra paint laid in rows with one brush and a cup of water next to each of them.
The instructors told us to simply choose the color that called to us in the moment without thinking, pick up the brush, dip it into the paint, and bring it to our white paper pinned against a wall. Then we were supposed to do only one thing: PLAY!
Painting for process is not about having a cathartic experience, throwing paint onto the paper a la Jackson Pollack. It’s about being respectful of the process, holding the brush carefully like a pencil, and being present when connecting the brush to paper.
The key to the creative process is to let go of the concept of “product.”
The instructors encouraged us to avoid standing back to look at what we were doing. This would trigger analysis, judgment, and self-consciousness. We were supposed to paint freely, like children, and forget about the demon of outcome.
If judgments came forward like “My painting is bad,” or “It doesn’t look like I want it to,” or like in my case, “It looks like a cartoon,” we were to ask ourselves three simple questions:
- What if it could be bad?
- What if you let go of preference?
- What if it didn’t matter if it looked like a cartoon or not?
Keep painting!” my teachers encouraged. “Keep going to a color and bring the brush to the white page.”
And when I got stuck (and sometimes wanted to curl up in a ball and cry) my kind teachers came over and gently nudged me to keep meeting myself head on.
Looking back on my very first paintings, I see how alive they were. How vivid. How amazingly real. They were powerful, honest, and vulnerable, and all because I felt encouraged to simply meet myself in the present.
I’ve been painting for process now for 15 years and I am an entirely different person. I am freer, out of my critical head, and happily more inventive.
The need to produce a “good” product is out of my way, and I am able to meet life, my work, and my relationships with the same creative principles I learned.
Here are 50 creative questions to ask yourself to meet life head on and create the life you really want:
What gives you “juice”? Where is the energy calling you? What if you gave yourself full permission to engage this? Going toward what gives you energy and meeting it fully is the first step to creating profound change.
What if you could take a risk? If you put your hands above you head and dove off the high board? If you didn’t second-guess yourself? If you were spontaneous? What would you create if you couldn’t fail? Taking risks jolts us into the new and creates immediate change.
What would happen if you followed your gut? If you listened to your intuition rather than your mind? What would you create if you could think later and create now? Creating what we want doesn’t happen in the future—it happens today.
What if you could explore? If you used everything as a learning opportunity? What if you dared to discover? What if you let go of what you know? Creativity exists beyond what we know. Love the unknown and let the mystery unfold.
What if you focused on play and fun? If you didn’t worry about what people think or compared yourself to them? (Comparison is a killer of creativity.) What if you were like a child again? Create just for the sake of creating and the rest will organically unfold.
What if you went wild? Got crazy? Did something you would never do? Unleashed? What if you could be free? Hold a loving, safe container for yourself as you express and create what is innately inside you.
What if you gave yourself permission to be it ALL: The good, the bad and the ugly? What if you accepted all of “what is” because life includes it all? Avoiding what makes us uncomfortable makes us even more stuck. Many times it is the difficult and the “dark” that shows us the light.
What if you were fully present? What if you connected only to this moment of now? If you didn’t hold onto the past or reach for the future? If you didn’t worry about what could happen? All of creation is born in the now.
What if you were to stay determined? What if you didn’t give up? What if you took one step at a time? It’s in the follow through where creativity blooms.
What if you were disciplined? What if you showed up when you said you would? What if you scheduled time to do what you want to do? Marked it in you calendar? Didn’t avoid? What magic could happen? Gently approaching what we want to create each and every day is how we ultimately create change.
What if you allowed space and time? If you didn’t force the current or want everything to come the way you want it NOW? What if you were patient and accepting of life’s natural timing? What if you allowed space and time to allow the fruit of your creativity to ripen.
What if it didn’t matter if you failed or not? If the result was not nearly as important as the experience you have in the present? If you used everything as an opportunity to discover? Knowing who you are and what you want to create has nothing to do with success or failure.
What if you could be free? Free to be, express, and create however you are called in the moment? What if this simple act of freedom gave you your greatest happiness? Once a product is finished, it’s over. Even though it still carries the memory, it is no longer alive. We are only fully alive in the present.
What if you continued to ask open-ended questions such as these? If you didn’t search for answers or meaning or try to make sense of it all? Asking open-ended questions gets you out of the box, relinquishes the attachment to product, and leads you to exciting new places.
We are innately creative beings whether we realize it or not. Change is a creative process. To create change, begin with meeting yourself within. What is it that you want to create in this moment? How will you dive in?
Photo by suez92