I read lots of books, particularly books about art and the making of art. When I came across Shaun McNiff's Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go, I promptly set aside every other title and immersed myself in it. I'm so impressed by it I wanted to share this discovery with you. (And no, I do not receive any payment for writing about this or any other resource I bring to my readers' attention, nor do I have any connection to the author or his publisher.)
McNiff explores the mystical and mystifying aspects of creativity in depth. Anyone who has composed music, written a book, painted a canvas or choreographed a musical -- or who has desperately wanted to but was paralyzed by fear and anxiety -- will find this book enormously helpful. It's empowering and enlightening and it makes fascinating reading.
The creative process moves at its own speed and in its own way. It can't be forced. When we align ourselves with the process and trust it, it takes us and our work in exciting new directions. To reach this state of alignment, though, we have to find a way to stifle that critical, negative, fear-mongering "editor on our shoulder" who breeds self doubt and anxiety within us:
"What if nobody likes this piece?"
"Will anyone want to read this drivel?"
" The critics will probably pan this one too."
"Nothing else I've done has sold. This probably won't either."
Once we shut that little demon up, we can approach art making with the enthusiasm we had as kids -- uninhibited, free of do's and dont's, unafraid to color trees purple and grass bright red. Return to that mindset and you've opened the door to trusting in the process and allowing it to carry you forward. This book shows you how to do just that without requiring you to follow a structured program. Yes, you DO have to learn to think differently, but retraining your mind isn't all that difficult. It just calls for approaching things from an unaccustomed direction.
My friend Dinah and I have agreed to meet regularly to discuss the concepts McNiff presents in this book. I'm looking forward to getting Dinah's take on them. Both of us are excited about this journey we're about to make. It will be my major focus this year. The path beckons....I'll keep you posted.