“Creators are hushed, wild people.” Eric Maisel
In my last blog, I introduced Eric Maisel’s book Fearless Creating, in which he outlines the six stages of the creative process, their accompanying anxieties, and appropriate ways to feed them. In this first stage, we are going to explore Nurturing the Wish to Create and Hungry Mind Anxiety.
Maisel says that it is our job to accept that, “Both creating and not creating make me anxious, and I choose the anxiety of creating.” He goes on to say that “The task is to replace paralyzing anxieties with hungry-mind anxiety, with the anxiety of wanting so badly to create that the walls of Jericho will not stand up to our trumpeting…[and] that our goal is not to grow calmer but to substitute one anxiety for another.” (Fearless Creating, p. 2)
How do we do that? The first step is to learn to quiet the mind—-to “Hush.” Hushing is both a quieting and an opening. When we rid our minds of the noise and chatter of everyday life, we allow the space for ideas to emerge and connect with each other. We cultivate the quality of Hushing when we allow ourselves to open to a vibrant image, a song’s message, a jewel-like phrase from a poem. This is productive concentration
The next step to feeding hungry mind anxiety is to learn to “Hold” whatever emerges from the trance-like stage of Hushing. Maisel says that “Once you nurture the wish to create, once you hush and go into these periodic trances in which ideas gestate, you will begin to possess emergent ideas which, in order to grow in vivacity, must themselves be nurtured.” (p. 6)
When we learn to Hush and Hold, the world suddenly becomes more interesting. The outer world feeds the inner world. Curiosity emerges. We begin to explore ideas. Work is happening within. We open to inspiration and then hold it, give it space, a container, breathe life into it. Holding is the equivalent to working.
On my way home from my office last week, I turned a corner in our twisty mountain road and beheld a stand of aspen, all frothy white against a dark pine forest. In that moment I was catapulted into a Hushed state of wonder. I thought, “I must paint this!” For a week, I Held that image, allowing it to grow within me, Nurturing the Wish to Create, feeling anxious all the while about How to paint this lovely scene. When I finally felt ready, I summoned up all the creative anxiety that had been building within me, went into my studio and began working in a trance, splashing layers of black and silver and gold and white on my canvas…until I had captured the scene of misted aspen that had left me breathless.
So this is how we begin. When we learn to work in this way, to Hush and Hold, we appropriately transform the anxiety of Wishing into a form that encourages the hushed, wild state of the creator, making our worlds come into vital aliveness.
“Keep quiet. Do your work in the world, but inwardly keep quiet.
Then all will come to you.”
—Nisaragada Ha Maharaj
To find out about working more to empower the six stages of your creative process, contact Cyncie Winter.