Creativity is about change. About starting in one place, and ending up in another. Creativity is about transformation, the alchemy of life. Creativity can seem magical, like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
One way I like to look at creativity is the through the lens of seasons, using it as a metaphor. Yes, those seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter. Why? Because seasons are all about change. We start with seeds in the spring, growth in the summer, harvest in the fall, and death in the winter. And then it starts all over again in spring with rebirth.
Creativity is very much like seasons. Every spring starts with seeds. Some seeds will grow and some will not. Seeds are plentiful, and each one has something to offer. Which one will you plant? Where will you plant it? How often will you tend to it? What weeds will pop up and get in the way? How will you pull out those stubborn weeds?
Then we have summer, the weather is warm, and rain is necessary for growth. Without rain, without some cloudy days, a plant cannot grow. Growth is about using the rain, the hardship, to help you change for the better. If there were only sunny days, only good days, the plant would get too dry and die. So growth is all about embracing both the sun AND the rain.
Fall is the harvest. Where you reap what you sow. You get to enjoy, to savor all that work you’ve put in. There is something now to show to the world, to show them you are creative and successful. You planted a seed, and tended it, and finally it can be displayed by others. Maybe it will even win a grand prize at the Fall Harvest Fair.
Winter is a quiet time, a time that is cool. The ground is barren, and nothing will grow. This is a time to relax and renew. So when the spring comes, you will have the strength to plant more seeds, to have energy to tend the plant in the summer, and the ability to harvest in the fall. It is not so much a physical death, as a time of incubation, of accepting that you cannot have ideas and growth all the time. There is a time for peace, for letting go, for moving on.
As a writer, I like using the idea of seasons to organize a story. We start by being introduced to the main character living their normal, everyday life. This is spring. Then somewhere a seed or two is planted. This is the catalyst and the inciting incident. The catalyst is the moment that kicks starts the story, that puts the story in motion. The lead character, may or may not be involved. For example, in a detective story the discovery of the dead body would be the catalyst. This is the moment that changes the everyday life of the character, and sets them down a new and different path. Without this inciting incident, the character’s life would stay the same.
Then comes the first pivot moment, the movement from spring to summer. Does the character accept the seed, the change in their life? Or do they fight it, do they resist? At that point the character has made a choice, either to fight to fly away. Either choice forces the character down a path that will lead to their growth, to an internal transformation, something that will usually make them a better person.
Summer is the full of growth. Of sunny moments, and rainy moments where obstacles must be overcome. Where weeds must be pulled out, and the seed, now a plant, must be tended too. There might be several plants to tend in the garden of the story. While the bulk of the story will focus on the main character, other characters will also be having their own journey.
Summer and fall is where a major part of the story takes place. The external action is way to express the internal changes and struggles of the character. The external action is symbolic of the emotional journey the character is experiencing on the inside. The external action, the overcoming of obstacles, they are a way to show you how the character is slowly being transformed on the inside.
To grow a character must face a series of obstacles. And the obstacles become harder as the story goes on. These obstacles and struggles are important, they force the character to dig deep, to find new answers, to overcome self-limiting beliefs, and to discover their potential.
You can think of a story, as a bunch of sequences – mini stories. And these sequences keep the story moving in different directions. People often express stories as having a beginning, middle and end. The beginning would be spring, the middle would be summer and fall, and the end winter.
I prefer to break a story into four major acts: spring, summer, fall and winter. Spring is the beginning, where the seeds are planted, and the main character begins their adventure. Summer is growth, about discovering the clues, solving the obstacles, and pulling the weeds. Then we have fall where the character has to work harder, and dig deeper if they are going to enjoy a harvest.
About halfway through the story, we take another major pivot, where the story moves in a new direction from summer to fall. If the new direction is unexpected, even better. You want to surprise the audience, keep them guessing, keep them engaged in the transformation of the character. You want the character to have new and different obstacles to solve. To be forced to discover new abilities, new friends, new clues, new weeds, and bigger obstacles.
These struggles are the peaks and valleys of storytelling. There are moments where the character is flying high and doing well, and there are moments where the character is in deep trouble, stuck in the valley with no way to climb out. At least it appears that way, until suddenly they find a way to climb the steep rock and reach the summit with a triumphant shout – even if it lasts only a moment.
Just before we move into the winter, the characters are often at their lowest point. All hope is lost; the harvest is threatened in some major way. It may be in danger from another person, the “bad” guy; from nature, such as a storm; or even from the bad decisions of the character themselves.
The harvest often happens at this moment. When the character transforms before our eyes. Where we see what this journey has been all about. At this point, the character comes to discover some inner truth, some new reserve of strength, some new moment of self-discovery that makes it possible they can survive, they can turn defeat into victory. This new inner knowledge, this bravery, this emotional transformation, gives them the power to face winter and survive.
The story has now moved into winter. The big, finale moment is on. Will the character survive? Will they defeat the bad guy? Will they overcome evil and triumph? Winter is the wasteland, where defeat and death are ever present. Where every moment the character is faced with a cold and unforgiving world that is trying to kill, or at least destroy him. Winter is a desperate time, and success is not assured.
Finally, we get to the moment where the character becomes the hero and they win! They have survived, they have won, they have defeated the enemy. Now we see them in spring again, for just a few moments. We want to see what the spring has brought them, what their rebirth looks like. So we end where we begin.
Life is full of seasons – from childhood, to teenager, to adulthood and old age. We have courtship, then marriage, then children, and empty nesthood. We have birth, growth, plateau and finally death. Life is filled with a variety of seasons that take us through a wide variety of changes. These seasons can be captured in music, in images, and in a wide variety of art forms.
Art is the portrayal of human life; of the seasons we experience our entire lives. We share these seasons, and these seasonal moments with others. Art helps us make sense of these seasons, to explore how they impact the mind, body and soul of humanity. How they prop us up, and pull us apart. Sadly not everyone survives, people die in each season, and each season brings its own challenges. Seasons are a way to mark time, to illustrate our growth and transformation.
Seasons are fascinating because they are constantly changing, and we must change with them to survive and thrive.
Questions to Ponder
- How might using seasons as a metaphor transform your art?
- What seasonal moment can you explore?
- What creativity season is your favorite? Why?
- What is the strength and weakness of each season?
BIO: Meet Dare, she is a creativity consultant, coach and trainer. Serious about creativity she became a Certified Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach, earned a graduate certificate in Change Leadership, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Creativity.
She has helped creative and artistic professionals get inspired, organizations to innovate, and individuals to embrace their creative potential.
Dare has the credentials to conduct a variety of creativity workshops where she assists individuals and organizations to safely navigate through challenges, ideas, solutions and implementation steps necessary to produce a harvest of results. She helps to innovate success, and save time and money.
She will support, celebrate and contribute to your success; and help make your vision, goal or dream happen with her expertise in creativity. Reach out and connect at D Kent Creativity Coach