Mastery of the Creative Process

Creativity coaches Robert & Michelle Colt who specialize in working with actors to achieve success in their careers think of learning and mastery as a four stage process. How quickly you move through this process depends on two key factors: How you focus your mind and trusting your non-conscious mind. I think that this is applicable to all forms of creativity including writing. I’ve summarized the essence of the four stages below:

1) The first stage is called unconscious incompetence. This is the stage where you don’t know that you don’t know. You will often be focused on the reasons things seem like a struggle.

2) The second stage is called conscious incompetence. This is the stage where you know that you don’t know. You will be catch glimpses of problems you are have with your work. This stage is often met with the Ah ha.

3) The third stage is called conscious competence. In this stage you now know that you know. This is the stage of conscious effort where you attempt to find solutions to the problems you recognize. This stage can feel like two steps forward and one step back.

4) The final stage is called unconscious competence. This is the stage of mastery. It is a state of Grace, sometimes known as being in the zone or in the flow. When I tap this place I feel almost like I am taking celestial dictate and the story writes itself. This is where great works of literature come from. All great writers are unconsciously competent in their craft. Getting to this stage involves practice and commitment. Understanding the power of your unconscious mind can certainly help.

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