As creative individuals we all – more or less – indentify ourselves with the work we generate. We view the work – rightly – as an extension of ourselves. Yet it’s important to understand that we cannot become the work. The work – already from the beginning of its creation – sets out on a «life» of its own. It’s not us any more, if for nothing else than because everybody else will not see the work as the same as us. But more importantly, if we become too attached to our work, we will not be able to make it come to its full blossom. In many ways it may be compared to the having a child. It’s not ours and it’s certainly not us, although it’s created by us.
I have previously written about the need for passion in the creative process. But it’s important to bear in mind that it’s not the passion for the final product I have in mind, but passion for the process – and passion for whatever it is that we want to express. Thus, when it comes to the work itself, we must maintain a critical distance, and be capable of a more objective relationship with the content of our efforts.
This detachment is a form of freedom: We enter into a real dialogue with our materials and ideas, rather than a fragile and trembling co-dependency with the natural results of our efforts. The work comes from us, or through us; it’s not of us. This is an important distinction to recognize if we hope to continue on the creative path. We wish to attune ourselves to the process, engage our energies as deeply as possible, and allow the work to emerge as the by-product, the child, of a mature relationship between ourselves and our materials. It is thus fair to say that we need to be both engaged and detached at the same time during the creative process.