Author | Freelance Writer | Entrepreneur | Speaker and Workshop Leader

Creative Process: Know When to Stop!

Where does it come from? Where does it go? You hear a lot of talk about how to “turn on the creative juices,” but what about the knowing when to turn it off? While it’s hard to say exactly where creativity comes from–one reason scientists have shied away from the subject until recently–we do know a lot of brain energy comes to play. As we puzzle-piece our creative process together, one question that comes up a lot for various artistic mediums is: When do you know something is done?

“Is it an original idea? Or is it something where you’re literally a creative collagist? You’re taking pieces of the world that you see around you and that are inside of you and put them together in a way that you see fit.” — Abigail Washburn

Some would say knowing when to stop makes or breaks nearly any given work of art no matter how big or small.  Billy Collins says his poems tend to be going somewhere and that he “advances the poem to some place where it can stop.” More mystically, Louise Gluck says that the poem “just closes the door.” Have you heard about the kindergarten teacher whose students were always producing the best art of any of the other teachers in the school?

She was asked, “How come your students produce such good art?”

“Well, I just know when to take them away from them,” she said.

The teacher was good at identifying when they’d achieved something artful before the thing ran to mud. May all of us be so wise with our own creations.

Here’s a ten-minute clip which discusses some of these ideas featuring our former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins.

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