What My First TEDx Talk Taught Me About The Creative Process?
It’s almost been a month since I gave my first TEDx talk here in Kuala Lumpur.
I spoke on a topic super close to my heart — How do we have Conversations that Matter?
In my talk, I shared the 3 key ingredients and a 6 step recipe for ‘cooking’ a meaningful conversation with your own friends, families and communities.
The weeks leading up to it were intense. But also wildly creative. Possibly the most creative period of my year so far. I understood the true essence of being in ‘flow’.
A lot of new seeds were planted including the birth of a new and upcoming podcast, a daily writing ritual and the vision for the future of Life Circles.
But as much as I wanted to give the talk and get done with it, I miss the creative outburst that happened in the weeks leading up to it.
As much as giving the talk was a milestone, I actually miss the creative process and the moments spent following it every day.
So, I sat down to reflect on ‘The Process’ and why it spiked my creativity.
Because I know that if I can replicate that, I can engineer being in that state more often.
Sharing 6 key lessons I learned about the creative process with all of you:
1) Creation = Consistent Purposeful Action
I committed to spending at least 30 mins every day going over my talk — either in spoken or written form. On some days I felt stuck and it frustrated me. On other days, it gave me a high that lasted throughout the day. But nevertheless, I showed up consistently and doing that gave my brain a cue that this was something that really matters to me.
The fact that I had a clear end goal in mind that was far bigger than me, really helped.
So lesson number #1 — Show up everyday!
2) Finding Your Creative Voice
You and I know that finding your voice sometimes takes years. Mostly because knowing what truly matters to you sometimes takes years too.
Here are three simple questions I asked myself that really helped me accelerate the process of finding my voice.
1) WHY am I giving this talk? → gives you a solid purpose
2) WHAT do I really want to share? → keeps you authentic and focussed
3) Is this the SIMPLEST way to share it? → removes complexity
I would ask myself these questions EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And every time I did, I found a simpler way to deliver the same message. Or a new example that would make my talk more relatable. Or a word that was so much more ME than what I was previously using.
You can easily use these three questions for anything that you are creating — whether it’s writing a book, starting a new podcast or even a new business.
3) Sleep Over It
I never quite understood the incredible power that sleep has on the creative process.
Ever so often, I would find myself completely stuck within my talk. And would fall asleep thinking about it. Not just once but I distinctly remember four different points of my talk which were ideas I woke up to.
It’s almost like when you feed your unconscious brain a question and fall off to sleep, your conscious brain takes over and works on it while you are sleeping! It’s so magical, almost surreal.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck with a question/problem/ idea sleep over it! :)
4) Find Your Cheerleaders
The creative process is beautiful. But also incredibly draining when you feel “stuck”. Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, calls this the feeling of Resistance.
On days when I felt stuck and wanted to pull my hair out the one thing that helped me the most was having cheerleaders — these are people in your life who are just a call away. People who know YOU, the process you are going through and are happy to be your soundboard or offer you feedback and new perspective when you need it.
Having conversations with these people will flip your mental state and give you the energy to go back to the drawing board and continue the process.
5) Be Kind To Yourself
This was probably the hardest but also the most valuable lesson I learned along the way.
The creative process is messy and unpredictable. Some days you wake up with a burst of ideas and on other days you are racking your brain to string two words or sentences together. So, it’s easy to be harsh, start judging yourself and wonder what’s going wrong.
And as your self-judgment builds, the creative flow slows down.
Simply realizing that cycles of hyper-creativity and reduced creativity are both parts of this process, helped me be more kind to myself.
It helped me realize that the only thing I have full control over is to SHOW UP and KEEP GOING! Which leads me to my final lesson.
5) It’s not the OUTCOME but the PROCESS that changes you
Something happens when you write your first book, work on your first painting, give your first TED talk or for that matter work on creating something for long enough.
Your life changes. Forever!
Most people attribute this change to the end outcome — having a bestselling book, a wonderful painting, or a viral talk. But it’s never about that.
It is the creative process that changes you. It sparks something so beautiful in you that you can no longer unsee it or ignore it.
If I had to put this feeling in words, it is the realization that each one of us has the ability to CREATE something out of NOTHING. It is a reminder of our potential and just how powerful it is.
In conclusion, the one thing I would share with anyone who is creating anything in the world;
Commit to the PROCESS of Creation for long enough and the OUTCOME will take care of itself.
Have you ever experienced a creative outburst, only to have it steadily fade away? Have you learned how to sustain it?
Share your experiences with me in the comments below.