How Creativity Really Works: Q&A with Danielle LaPorte
Danielle LaPorte has written a powerful book, which includes some important truths about self-improvement and spiritual growth, aptly titled White Hot Truth: Clarity for Keeping It Real on Your Spiritual Path—from One Seeker to Another. For me, the most essential insight is that self-improvement can become self-destructive (which I recently wrote about in this piece on Weightless).
Today, in our interview, Danielle shares some truths about creativity, everything from how creativity really works to the importance of setting boundaries and creative priorities. She also reveals what her creative process looks like and the two questions her work answers—and much, much more. I’m really grateful that Danielle took the time to respond to my questions, and I think you’ll find her words incredibly inspiring.
Q: What does your creative process look like? For instance, some people keep specific hours. Others only write when they’re inspired. Some people have certain rituals like drinking coffee or lighting a yummy smelling candle.
A: I need blocks of time to be creative, so I have full days where I have nothing scheduled and then I batch days where I do all my interviews and my phone calls or maybe all of my errands on one day. There’s always lots of music involved and that can range from Montrose to a lot of Pink Floyd and lately Sinead O’ Connor.
I am obsessive about “my tools,” so I write in the same kind of notebook with my treasured pencil. I leave lots of time for good food and lying on my living room floor waiting for my next big idea to come to me.
I am not a slave to due dates. I work on my own creative schedule as much as I can. But because I’m a grown-up, I usually deliver on time.
Q: When you’re stuck or overwhelmed with your writing, when you’re in a deep well of self-doubt, what helps you get out?
A: Self-doubt isn’t really my affliction. I have other emotional things that I struggle with. But in terms of creating and my own writing, the challenge is always to just make time to do what I can only do, which is write—meaning what I can only do in my business, which is write.
And often there is guilt involved in creating boundaries and creative priorities. I don’t want to let my team down, my friends down. Sometimes you worry about being disliked when you tell 80 percent of the people who come your way that you’re not available to meet for tea.
But that’s the tough part of focus, and you will never put things out into the world unless you are intensely focused on your creative priorities. So I guess the answer is: I always know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m connected to the purpose of putting my work out into the world. And when you’re connected that deeply to your calling, you don’t get stuck that much.
Q: I think that for most of us there is a question, a kind of theme, that underlies our writing or our work. It might be answering or playing with the question How do we connect to ourselves? or What does it mean to be a parent? or Where does beauty reside? Ultimately, what question does your work attempt to answer, or what questions are you playing with?
A: What’s true for me? And how could I be of the most service? I think those two questions have really been my creative tracks, my guidelines for years.
I’m a seeker who writes and broadcasts about what I find on my search. And my job, my commitment, as you know a citizen of the planet, is to figure out how I can get my findings out in the world to be useful so somebody else can relate or feel a bit encouraged or less alone or hear one little word about my struggle or my joy that helps them unlock their own light and potential. Really at the end of the day my business plan, my so-called business plan, is to broadcast light and that relates to those two questions.
Q: What’s been inspiring you lately?
A: Manchester’s response to the terrorist attack that happened in their city, the coming together of love, the fearlessness to be united, Ariana Grande, Pharrell, everybody who came together in such short order to use music to heal and strengthen people… I found that incredibly inspiring both from a heart level and from a hustle level what it took to pull that off.
Q: What’s one thing you wish people truly understood about creativity?
A: Creativity ebbs and flows. We are addicted to motivational hype and to being productive. And with that mindset, we think that we should be creating with incredible compassion and optimal results at all times. But that’s not how creativity works.
There’s times when you are flush and full and overflowing with genius ideas, and there’s times when you’re in the ebb, when you’re dry and you’re not firing in fourth gear or overdrive.
And that’s natural and it’s essential to the entire creative process, just like fields need time to be fallow and recover from their crops, so the soil can re-nourish itself and be ready to be seeded and nourish a crop again, your mind and your psyche need that. Your creative engine needs time to rest and be parked. And the beauty of that is when you get it into gear, again, you are clear and stronger and brighter than ever after the resting period.
Danielle LaPorte is an invited member of Oprah’s inaugural Super Soul 100, a group who, in Oprah Winfrey’s words, “is uniquely connecting the world together with a spiritual energy that matters.”
She is author of The Fire Starters Sessions, and The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul. She is also a speaker, poet, painter, and former business strategist and Washington-DC think tank exec.
She lives in Vancouver with her favorite person—her 12 -year-old son. Learn more at http://www.daniellelaporte.com.
Tartakovsky, M. (2017). How Creativity Really Works: Q&A with Danielle LaPorte. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/everyday-creativity/2017/06/how-creativity-really-works-qa-with-danielle-laporte/