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  • Writer's pictureDevin Olivia Barton-Torres

Healing Through Creative Expression: How to Cultivate a Creative Process

Updated: Jan 3

The word "create" in black against a yellow background with red and blue accents.

Creative expression has the power to heal, transform, and restore our holistic health. It connects us with the deepest and most sacred parts of ourselves. It’s an avenue through which we reclaim our stories and re-write the narrative. Through art, writing, music, dance or any other form of creative expression, you can tap into your inner strength and embark on a transformative journey towards healing.

Connect with Creative Outlets

Exploring different creative mediums such as visual arts, writing, music, dance, or crafts allows you to experience the different forms of expression that comes with each medium. Some may come more naturally to you, others may be challenging but worth the increased effort to develop. Some forms of expression may be a daily go-to, such as a journaling routine or sketching, while others may be less frequent yet equally powerful. Some forms may include costs, such as a class to learn the skill or purchasing supplies and equipment, while others can easily be done with nothing more than music and open space. Exploring these different mediums is a creative process in and of itself. It allows you to embrace flexibility, work within your means, follow curiosity without an expectation of committing, and experience the different ways creative inspiration can rise up.

Through the process of exploring different mediums you have the opportunity to hone in on what inspires you the most. Some forms may resonate on a deeper level and suit you best when there’s an intensity or abundance of expression. Others may be a wonderful outlet for connecting with community, partners, or children. Reflect on the following questions as you explore different forms of creative expression:

  • What parts of you feel most seen and appreciated?

  • What parts of you do you feel healing?

  • What parts of you are inspired and awakened?

  • What parts of you feel they’re finally being released?

Allow the tugs of curiosity, pleasure, and release to guide you with you and allow you to express yourself most authentically. The beauty of the creative process is how deeply personal it is. Connect with your intuition and allow yourself to be surprised by what you discover through the process.

Embrace the Creative Process

The creative process is the “steps” a person goes through when they’re generating new ideas, developing original concepts, and producing their unique creative work. It’s a dynamic, intense, and exhilarating experience. For people new to creative expression it can often feel confusing, disorienting, and even chaotic. It’s so deeply experiential and unique, and as such often hard to articulate to people unfamiliar or uncomfortable with it. Embracing the chaos and mess of this process is part of what makes it so powerful and beautiful. The process teaches us to release expectations or judgements of the outcomes. It encourages us to stay in the moment with our creation. It’s an invitation to explore, experiment, and express without criticism or comparison. We’re free to find inspiration in anything, to abandon projects if we decide they’re not working, to slow the process down so ideas can incubate, and to simply daydream and imagine possibilities for the sake of imaging alone. As you hone your craft your unique process will become more clear, and it becomes easier to communicate it to people you may want to collaborate with or seek help from. Some key aspects of the creative process includes:


Inspiration is the initial spark that ignites the process. It can come from anything, including personal experiences, observations, emotions, or witnessing something profound. There may be a sense of curiosity or intrigue. Many people describe a “tug” pulling them in a certain direction and feeling compelled to move toward it. Some people may act on everything that inspires them, others may sit with inspiration and simply bask in the joy of it.


Preparation involves gathering information, research, or materials needed for the creative endeavor. A dancer may listen to a song while visualizing the movements. A writer may read books related to a topic they want to explore. A visual artist may collect materials they want to work with. Inspiration may rise up again and again through the preparation stage, helping the Creative hone in on what they’re seeking to express in their work.

Idea Generation

Idea generation is an exciting period of brainstorming any and all ideas that come to mind. It’s a free-flowing and exploratory phase where nothing is off limits. During this stage allow yourself to generate as many ideas as possible without judgment or censorship. Ideas can be as fantastical or out-of-this-world as your imagination allows them to be. This isn’t the time for being grounded in reality, but for being open to inspiration wherever it may come from.


Incubation is a quieter period of the process. It follows the initial outburst of inspiration, action, and ideas. The Creative allows ideas to simmer, develop, and evolve at an unconscious level. The Creative may step away from the project, engage in unrelated activities, and rest more than they do during other periods. Rest is particularly critical during this period because most of the work is happening at a deep subconscious level. Ideas are integrating and merging; the ones that won’t follow to the end of the process are dropping while the ones that will are rising to the top.

Evaluation and Selection

During the evaluation and selection phase the Creative engages a more analytical part of their mind. There’s a more critical assessment of the ideas along with a review of their resources, bandwidth, and overall

goals. The ideas are finetuned into “projects” of a sort as they find ways to bring their dreams into reality. They move from expressing into the art of creating.

Development and Implementation

Once the Creative selects the ideas they want to pursue they begin working on them. This involves shaping ideas into tangible forms, such as a choreography, piece of visual art, or collection of written work as some examples. The Creative draws on their vast range of technical skills, ability to track and adjust, and deep passion for the vision they can see.

Reflection and Feedback

The creative process is beautiful in its cyclical nature. The Creative never stops thinking about how they can improve their craft, create the next idea, or express the most recent form of inspiration that’s come to them. They analyze not only their work, but also their process. They may share what they’ve created with others, in personal and private ways or in more public ways. They embrace feedback so they can refine their process and continue creating works of art reflective of what inspires them most.

It connects you with your core essence, with your soul. It serves no purpose beyond expression, and that alone is enough.

Create a Safe and Sacred Space

A dedicated space where you can freely engage in your chosen creative expression can help keep your creativity central to your life. It doesn’t have to be an entire room. A simple altar with objects, colors, or symbols that bring you comfort and inspiration can be a powerful force of creative energy. Filling your environment with colors, textures, images, and objects that inspire you keeps you connected to your creative energy. A regular practice of cleaning and caring for this space is also a practice in caring for your own creative energy and process. Writers may have a folder in their computer dedicated to various projects or a collection of notebooks for free journaling. Dancers can arrange furniture in a way that allows easy access to open space. A visual artist may have a drawer or cabinet specific for the various tools, supplies, and mediums needed for their work. A crafter may have a basket full of colorful threads for stitching or an area in their garage for the range of tools and equipment they need.

Creatives can also use ritual to shift the energy of a physical space to one that invites creative energy. Lighting candles, wearing special clothes, adjusting the lighting, or playing a dedicated playlist are powerful ways to transform a room’s energy to one conducive to the creative process.

Creative expression is a powerful way to heal at the deepest levels. It connects you with your core essence, with your soul. It serves no purpose beyond expression, and that alone is enough. Some creative endeavors may become completed creations. Some of your creations may be shared with loved ones or publicly, and many others may never be known by anyone other than you and the source of inspiration. There are no wrong or right reasons to create or express. Embracing the process for its simple existence is exactly what makes it so profound. In a world that expects people to constantly labor and produce, creating for the sake of creating is a radical act. It's a rebellion against the demands that we contribute something “of value.” It’s a refusal to deny our energetic and spiritual nature. It’s an embracing of the messy, ugly, chaotic, confusing, and beautiful world around. It’s a path of continuous growth, connection, and transformation. You don’t have to walk this path alone. A creativity coach can guide you in connecting with your core essence, understanding your own creative process, and unleashing the creative potential inside you ready to be expressed.

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