The Art of Surrender: Embracing the Mystery and Trusting the Darkness of Creativity
Week 12, Day 3 of The Artist's Way
Today, let's raise our best ideas and let them grow in the mystery of the dark.
Creativity—like human life itself—begins in darkness.
We need to acknowledge this. All too often, we think only in terms of light: “And then the lightbulb went on and I got it!” It is true that insights may come to us as flashes. It is true that some of these flashes may be blinding. It is, however, also true that such bright ideas are preceded by a gestation period that is interior, murky, and completely necessary.
Mulling on the page is an artless art form.
It is fooling around. It is doodling. It is the way that ideas slowly take shape and form until they are ready to help us see the light. All too often, we try to push, pull, outline, and control our ideas instead of letting them grow organically. The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.
Mystery is at the heart of creativity.
That, and surprise. All too often, when we say we want to be creative, we mean that we want to be able to be productive. Now, to be creative is to be productive—but by cooperating with the creative process, not forcing it.
As creative channels, we need to trust the darkness.
Hatching an idea is a lot like baking bread. An idea needs to rise. If you poke at it too much at the beginning, if you keep checking on it, it will never rise. A loaf of bread or a cake, baking, must stay for a good long time in the darkness and safety of the oven. Open that oven too soon and the bread collapses—or the cake gets a hole in its middle because all the steam has rushed out of it. Creativity requires a respectful reticence.
The truth is that this is how to raise the best ideas.
Let them grow in dark and mystery. Let them form on the roof of our consciousness. Let them hit the page in droplets. Trusting this slow and seemingly random drip, we will be startled one day by the flash of “Oh! That’s it!”
(The Artist's Way, 2016, p. 195 – 195)
Read the following out loud with purpose and intent:
I trust in the darkness and grow in the mystery.
Take a look at your current areas of procrastination.
What are the payoffs in your waiting? Locate the hidden fears. Do a list on paper.
- Grab a blank piece of paper and a pen.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to clear your mind.
- Start doodling without any intention or specific goal in mind. Allow your hand to move freely and organically.
- Keep doodling until you feel a flash of inspiration. It could be a shape, a color, a word, or anything that catches your attention.
- When you have that spark of inspiration, don't think too much about it. Just start building on it. It could be a rough sketch, a mind map, or just a few random scribbles.
- Trust the process and let your ideas grow in the darkness and mystery. Don't try to control or force them.
- After a few minutes, open your eyes and see what you've created. You may be surprised by the results.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”
– Albert Einstein
What mystery are you excited to explore today?
Share in the comments below👇