“Love is what creating is about.” So wrote Robert Fritz as he describes the creative process in his book “Creating.” Ascribing love as a generative force, Fritz invites his readers to not only recognize the process of creating as a tool, but to step into a lifestyle of creating and so experience life at its essence. According to Fritz, the act of creating builds energy, which in turn builds momentum, which in turn renews energy, which continues an energetic flow that is renewable.

Fritz separates the creative process into nine consecutive elements:

  1. Conception – one begins to consider what to create and experiments with ideas;
  2. Vision – a specific idea is identified, many times through brainstorming;
  3. Current reality – identify what I currently have in relationship to the vision, this is where structural tension is born;
  4. Take action – begin creative process, learn by doing, experiment;
  5. Adjust-learn-evaluate-adjust – creating is a skill that is accumulative;
  6. Building momentum – organizing actions to build momentum, comes with experience;
  7. Always have a place to go – creates a dynamic that focuses time, energy and direction;
  8. Completion – often acceleration of energy and actions, final decisions, declaring that creation is complete, direct energetic momentum towards next project; and
  9. Living with your creation – develop a new relationship with creation, from creator to audience.

These elements are experienced in an active way where creators take risks, experiment, and learn by doing.

In a collaborative arena, Fritz also points out that creative teams need a clear vision if they are to be successful in creating. When the clear vision is absent, this is most likely a symptom of a simple truth: the individuals, and therefore the group itself, do not know how to create. They were never trained. To think that it could be this simple blows my mind as I would love to have this kind of job.

Notes based on: Fritz, R. (1991). Creating. New York: Fawcett Columbine.

Vision is SO important to individuals as well as teams and organizations! A beautiful nugget that so aptly describes our relationship with vision was described in Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline” (pp. 135-142):

The gap that is between our current reality and our vision is called “creative tension.” This gap is a source of creative energy and, if you can imagine it, is like a huge rubberband that is stretched between the two points. The bigger the vision, the more the rubberband is stretched and the greater the creative tension.

Creative tensions seeks resolution or release in two ways: 1. our current reality is pulled towards the vision and brings us closer to fulfillment, and 2. we bring our vision closer to our current reality by making it more “realistic.”

It is important to not confuse emotional tension with creative tension. If I try to relieve the emotional tension by getting rid of the creative tension, I lower the vision.

According to Senge, goals erode in organizations many times because of low tolerance for emotional tension. “Truly creative people use the gap between vision and current reality to generate energy for change.”

Personally, I’m really challenged with this concept. I really want to see and experience the reality of creative tension generating energy for change.

Do you have a comment, question, or example of where you have seen this concept at work? Please share.