I was in sixth grade when I had my first article published in my local newspaper. It was the last day of school before Christmas break, and therefore pajama day, so I was wearing turquoise and purple polka-dot fuzzy pants and a matching turquoise shirt.
Arriving at school that day, I had no clue that my article had been published. The principal had mentioned it on the morning announcements, but the pre-holiday conversations in my classroom were so loud that I couldn’t hear what was said. Later in the day, I remember holding the gym door open as students piled in for our Christmas assembly. People I didn’t even know were congratulating me on my article – which, at that point, I still hadn’t even seen in the paper.
After school, I remember casually asking my dad if he had read the paper yet. When he said no, I told him that he should read it immediately. He dropped me off at my friend’s house, and when I came home there was a stack of newspapers on the kitchen table.
That day was monumental to my life in many ways: it led to my love of writing, and my eventual decision to pursue journalism as a career. Yet, now when I think of that article, I remember my polka-dot pajama pants before I remember all of the hard work that went into writing it. I don’t think about sitting in front of my computer screen, wondering what on earth I could write 500 words about.
I don’t think of the actual process of writing the article: how the words came pouring out of me, as if I was meant to be a writer. I don’t think of printing off my article and having every person I knew edit it. I don’t think of the moment when I composed an email and sent my article to the editor of the paper.
In life, it often seems that when we think of successes – in both our lives, and in the lives of others – we think of the end result and forget to think of the hard work that goes into achieving that result. I think this is really unfortunate, because the process that leads to something – a school dance, a painting, a person’s weight loss – deserves credit. The process of creating anything is unique, but often so buried in admiration of the final product that it is as if it did not occur at all.
Take this blog post, for example. I had written a draft of it all the way back in May. Today I was browsing my Google Drive, found the post, and decided to rewrite it. The original process that led to me writing the post in May consisted of me sitting on my bedroom floor ransacking my brain for blog post ideas, brainstorming with a pen that leaked ink all over my hands and notebook.
Everyone has a different creative process, but I daresay that everyone’s process slightly resembles the one above in that there is, at some point, some craziness between the idea and its conception, or between the beginning of the work and the end product. We can focus on point A, or, as we often do we can focus on point B, but I think what’s really important to focus on is the scribbles in between.
There is genius in final products, but that genius would not exist in its finished form without firstly existing in the process. There is beauty in final products, and that beauty was first created in the process. In order to fully appreciate the amazingness of the final product, we must first appreciate the amazing process that led to it. Sometimes, this also means appreciating the process of what happens after the finished product is done – or so I tell myself as I recall my polka-dot pajama pants.
What does your creative process look like?