What I Ask Myself When I Start A New Creative Project by Thomas Beutel

What I Ask Myself When I Start A New Creative Project

I’m building a city. With art deco skyscrapers, department stores, busy streets and old-fashioned trolleys darting around, all within a 5-foot by 5-foot space.

It’s part of my favorite creative project, a model railroad that I’ve been working on for over 23 years in my garage.

Creative work is most authentic and the truest when you start by asking “What do I want to feel when I create this work?”

But many of us often start by asking something different – “What will people think?” or “What will get the most likes?” or “What will sell?”

I was always asking these questions too. But now I believe that asking how I want to feel will lead me to the create art that more deeply resonates with me. And when it resonates with me, it is more likely to resonate with others too.

I didn’t understand this until very recently, when I listened to Melissa Dinwiddie interview Amber Rae, author of Choose Wonder, Not Worry. Both Melissa and Amber are passionate about incorporating play and wonder in the creative process.

At the end of the interview, Amber raved about the book The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte. The Desire Map says that you find clarity by knowing how you actually want to feel.

When I heard Amber explain the basis of the book, the hairs on the back of my neck went up. Something about the question “What do I want to feel when I create this work?” made sense to me at a very deep level. I realized right away that I had never ask myself that question.

My art deco city on my model railroad came to mind. The railroad is over two decades old, but I was just starting the city project so I asked myself the question.

Immediately I felt the project in a different way, in a different light. I closed my eyes and what I felt was a much deeper sense of delight. When I asked myself why I felt delight, the answer was that I imagined a much brighter, more animated, and more colorful city. So I made changes to the plan to incorporate some of the things I saw.

Isn’t it interesting that the feeling came before the visualization? Funny how that works! It is such a powerful question, and yet I believe that few of us ask it.

Eventually I realized that the question actually contains two questions. One is, how to you want to feel as you create? The other asks, how do you want to feel once you are done? I think both are important.

Asking the question reveals our feelings about what we create, and they are made tangible by our creative works. In that way, our creative works give others a glimpse of our true soul.

Here is where I believe that HSPs have an edge. Feelings are strong for HSPs – it is our superpower. But many HSPs cut off their feelings as a way of self preservation.

Art gives us an amazing avenue to heal, grow, change or explore perspectives and feelings. We can use our creativity as a way to find lost feelings, repatriate them and welcome them back into our heart.

How has this question changed my creative works?

When I look at my finished art, I feel more alive and more vibrant. I see works that are more connected with my heart.

When I’m in the middle of creating art, I am more playful, more willing to say yes. There is a shimmering feeling. I am more aware of a sense of wonder as the creative work unfolds before my eyes.

What questions are you asking when you start a creative project? How would your art change if you first asked how you want to feel when your make your art?


Pic credit via Thomas Beutel

Thomas loves to explore the connection between the HSP Trait and creativity, curiosity and play. He is devoted to nurturing creativity and encourages others to show their works. You can often find him tinkering, sketching and experimenting with new media.

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