The Creative Cycle

I was recently fortunate enough to take my mother’s writing class on a cruise through the Mediterranean.  I think one of the concepts she talked about could be helpful if more humans knew about it.  This is my synopsis of her view of the three stages of the creative cycle:

  • The first stage is Brahma.  The lightning strike of creativity.  This is a stage of inspiration and excitement.  Where you are totally high on some great new idea/concept/vision.  The crazy fun stage.
  • The second is Vishnu: The actual work; the nose to the grindstone.  No longer inspired but plodding towards an end goal.  Continuing to do the work that you were inspired about before.
  • Last is Shiva:  Shiva is the destroyer.  It means to stop.  It’s a dissolve into chaos and nothingness.  This is the part of the cycle that our culture does not honor.  Which is why we feel it’s wrong to do nothing all day, or why we get yelled at in school for daydreaming.  BUT Shiva is an integral and mandatory part of the cycle of creativity.  It’s the reset button between things “happening”.  We expect people to work 50 weeks a year with two weeks off, but to live a creative life we have to honor the natural cycle.

Some people go through the whole cycle in a month.  Some take a year or more.  While some people go through all three stages in a single day, but that’s rare.  What many of us don’t realize is that Brahma ONLY comes out of Shiva.  We work and work, waiting for the next bout of inspiration to come, not realizing that it is only out of the destruction, chaos and nearly vegetative nothingness of Shiva that we can once again reach Brahma. Conversely some of us wallow in Shiva, fearing that we will never again do anything of worth.  That we are tapped out, void of inspiration and a virtual waste of space on the planet.
No matter how dark things might seem in life it’s important to remember that light will follow. When things seem terrible, empty and meaningless sometimes the only thing to do is hold fast and wait for the light.

It is pretty interesting once you are aware of this cycle you can almost feel the shift back into Brahma.  A whirlwind of projects and activities fall into your lap and you find yourself trying to do five things at once when just yesterday you could barely be bothered to get out of bed.  It is exhilarating, especially when you have the money to finally buy some paint.

I took these ideas from my infinitely wise and intelligent mother, Cynthia Whitcomb.  For more info on her check out her site:


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3 responses to “The Creative Cycle

  1. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  2. Thank you for helping me understand this cycle better–when I realize the dissolving part is normal, and should be expected, it feels a whole lot better. Surrendering into it consciously helps avoid any unneccesary depression.

  3. Thanks for the post, keep posting stuff

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