The creative process

By Paulo Coelho

All creative processes, be they in literature, engineering, computing – and even in love – always respect the same rules: the cycle of nature. Here is a list of the stages along this process:

a] ploughing the field: the moment the soil is turned, oxygen penetrates places it was unable to previously. The field gets a fresh look, the earth which was on top is now below, and that which was underneath has come to the surface. This process of interior revolution is very important – because, just as the field’s new look will see sunlight for the first time, and be dazzled by it, a new assessment of our values will allow us to see life innocently, without ingenuity. Thus we will be prepared for the miracle of inspiration. A good creator must know how to continually turn over his values, and never be content with that which he believes he understands.

b] sowing: all work is the fruit of contact with life. A creative man cannot lock himself in an ivory tower; he must be in contact with his fellow men, and share his human condition. He never knows, at the outset, which things will be important to him in the future, so the more intense his life is, the more possibilities he will create for an original language. Le Corbusier said that: “as long as man tried to fly by imitating birds, he couldn’t succeed.” The same applies to the artist: although he translates emotions, the language he is translating is not fully understood by him, and if he tries to imitate or control his inspiration, he will never obtain that which he desires. He must allow his life to sow the fertile soil of his unconscious.

c] growth: there is a time in which the work writes itself, freely, at the bottom of the author’s soul – before it dares show itself. In the case of literature, for example, the book influences the writer, and vice versa. It is this moment which the Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade refers to, when he states that we should never try to recover lost verses, for they never deserved to see the light of day. I know people who, during a growth period, spend their whole time furiously taking notes on everything which comes into their head, without respecting that which is being written in the unconscious. The result is that the notes, which are the fruit of memory, end up disturbing the fruit of inspiration. The creator must respect the time of gestation, although he knows – just like the farmer – that he is only partially in control of his field; it is subject to drought and floods. But if he knows how to wait, the stronger plants, which can resist bad weather, will come to light with great force.

d] the harvest: the moment when man manifests on a conscious plane that which he sowed and allowed to grow. If he harvests early, the fruit is green, if he harvests late, the fruit is rotten. Every artist recognizes the arrival of this moment; although some aspects may not have matured fully, some ideas not be crystal clear, they reorganize themselves as the work is produced. Without fear and with great discipline, he understands that he must work from dawn to dusk, until the work is finished.

And what to do with the results of the harvest? Again, we look to Mother Nature: she shares everything with everyone. An artist who wishes to keep his work to himself, is not being fair with that which he received from the present moment, nor with the inheritance and teachings of his forefathers. If we leave the grain stored in the granary, it will go bad, even though it was harvested at the right time. When the harvest is over, the time comes to share, without fear or shame, your own soul.

That is the artist’s mission, however painful or glorious.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Conversations with the master – the strategy

By Paulo Coelho

(Here I continue to transcribe notes made during conversations with J. between 1982 and 1990)

– Bernard Shaw was right – said J. – He wrote that people take morbid pleasure in complaining all day long about the conditions in which they live. I agree with him: true men and women are those who seek out ideal conditions, and – if they are unable to find them – end up creating them.

– How does one create the conditions needed?

– A Chinese man wrote about this, thousands of years ago: by respecting the five fundamental points. However, before speaking of the five points, it must be said that the starting point is respect for oneself. One can achieve anything, but not everything; so one must know what it is one desires.

– How can we know what we desire?

– When we feel well after carrying out a certain task. Consequently, everything which causes us to lose our enthusiasm and self respect, is harmful; even if it means power, money or success. I have seen so many people suffocated by success, making mistakes which ended up destroying years of work, yielding to heavy drinking, becoming aggressive, tough, bitter. These people are distant from themselves, and distant from others.

– Tell me about the Chinaman.

– He wrote a book about war, but the five points he mentions in it apply to any task carried out by mankind.

“Item one: the law of the will. We just talked about this: one should only do that which truly fills our hearts with enthusiasm. If we brush this aside, if we put off the moment to live that which we dream of, we lose the energy necessary for any important transformation in our lives. Someone once put this most succinctly: “I don’t know the secret of success – but the secret of failure is to always try to follow the will of others.”

“Item two: the law of the seasons. Just as a war fought in winter demands different behavior and equipment from a war in the summer, human beings must learn to respect their own seasons, and not try to act when it is time to wait, not try to wait at a time of action. However, in order to make progress in anything, we must make the first move – from then on, our personal rhythm and intuition will show us how to conserve his energy.

“Item three: the law of geography. A battle in a ravine is different from one fought in a field: in the same way, one can only achieve favorable conditions by paying attention to what is going on around, to the space one is occupying, what must be done to increase it, where there may be an ambush waiting, how to escape if a momentary retreat is necessary.

“Item four: the law of the allies. No one can fight alone; friends are necessary to give us strength when we need it, people who can advise us without being afraid of what we will think. As a poet once said: “no bird can fly high, if it only uses its own wings.”

“Finally, the fifth item: the law of creativity. There is only one way of understanding things – when we try to change them. We do not always succeed, but we do learn, for we seek a path no one has been down – and the world is full of such paths. The problem is, everyone is afraid of virgin forests, uncharted seas. As one enters the unknown, one fears that one may lose oneself.

“But no one gets lost – the hand of the merciful God always lies on the heads of courageous men and women, those who dare to be different because they believe in their dreams.”

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet