What My Summer Garden Taught Me About The Creative Process
This spring I decided to grow a vegetable garden. I haven’t had a garden since I was a kid and the pleasant memories of working in the garden and eating what my family had planted compelled me to create one of my own. If any of you have a vegetable garden, you know that it is quite a process and what you put into it is what you take out…literally.
Well, the summer is coming to an end and I have harvested most of my veggies and looking back on the whole experience I can’t help but realize that much of what I learned while gardening rings true for the creative process. I hope the following observations help grow your creative process.
Creating a vegetable garden from scratch took a great deal of planning. I had to consider where to locate the garden, if I should build raised beds, what I would plant and so much more.
Planning might seem like an unlikely step in the creative process to some, but it’s importance should not be overlooked. Unlike waiting for divine inspiration or stream of consciousness, planning helps you focus on the task at hand, puts a creative team on the same page before starting a project or brainstorm and can save time.
I learned early on that I wasn’t going to have a successful garden without a little help. I visited the library and checked out a half dozen books on New England gardening. I talked to my parents, I talked to my neighbors and I talked to coworkers who have gardens. Asking others to shed some light on what they have learned made the greatest impact on my approach to the garden.
You never have to go-it-alone in the creative process. You can always research similar projects in books, magazines and online. Your best resources, if you have them, are your coworkers. Brainstorm, bounce ideas off each other and ask for critiques on how you might make your project better.
I didn’t realize just how much I would care about my little seedlings until I found myself waking up a half hour early everyday this summer to water my plants. I spent countless hours weeding, feeding and preventing animals and insects from eating what I was working so hard to grow and you know what? It was worth it.
Developing a style and refining your creative process takes time. Just like those plants in my garden, creatives grow everyday and nurturing your creative process will help that growth. If you find things are getting stale or just aren’t working, try something different. Find inspiration in others and everything around you. How can you apply the life you live to your creative process? What are creative’s doing in different fields? What are you creating in addition to the professional work your involved with?
With all the rain we had early in the summer, I had a serious slug problem. I didn’t want to use chemicals so I asked a friend and he told me that you can trap slugs in partially filled beer cans. It worked like a charm! I hadn’t planned on slugs eating my lettuce or the groundhog who lives under my shed to eat my cucumbers so I had to adapt to these situations quickly to solve the problems they were creating.
I can count on one hand the amount of times I haven’t had to deal with an unexpected situation (client changes) when undertaking a project. You have to be able to adapt and adapt quickly. There is always a solution to a problem and quite frankly, I think that finding those solutions is part of the fun.
What I learned in the garden this summer will certainly be passed on to my friends, family and neighbors. The beer can trick I mentioned was a great tip that I passed on to neighbors who were having the same problem.
Sharing your creative input and what you learn through the process is part of being in the creative community. Help your co-workers out, share with other creative teams, blog about recent projects and share insights with clients. This helps them grow and in turn, will help you grow as well.
I had a great time growing a vegetable garden this summer and I can’t wait to start all over again next season. The planning and hard work I put into my garden this summer paid off in delicious veggies and herbs and a summer filled with fun and satisfaction.
You have to have fun and love what you do if you are going to be good at it. You’re a creative because you love to create. You are compelled to create. This is your passion in life and when something is created with passion and love there is nothing better… so have fun!
What did you learn about the creative process this summer?