The Process and Product Paradox

Artists, writers and creatives who hope to earn a living and / or receive recognition through their work often operate in a state of tension: their work requires (1) a creative process that will (2) result in a marketable product. Unfortunately, trying to focus simultaneously on these objectives can prove to be counter productive to the ultimate goal.

According to Mark McGuinness’ article in Manage your Day-To-Day : Build your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen your Creative Mind, edited by Jocelyn Glei, “There’s quite a bit of evidence that extrinsic motivations – such as money and reputation – have a negative impact on creativity. It’s only when you’re focussed on intrinsic motivations such as your fascination with the material or the sheer pleasure you take in creating it – that you do your best work.”

Thomas M Sterner, in The Practising Mind says, “Focus on the process not the product that the process was meant to achieve. It’s a paradox. When you focus on the process, the desired product takes care of itself with fluid ease. When you focus on the product, you immediately begin to fight yourself and experience boredom, restlessness, frustration and impatience with the process.”

So the rule of thumb seems to be to keep your focus on doing what you love : creating passionately and wholeheartedly. Don’t let yourself get too distracted by what’s going on outside in the marketplace, especially while you’re still in the creative stage. In doing so, you will produce your very best, most authentic work with greatest satisfaction. This will then, in turn, maximise your opportunities and sense of pride when you do eventually share your work with the world.

1 thought on “The Process and Product Paradox”

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