Sit on the Throne of Agony
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Sit on the Throne of Agony

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In any creative process, you'll likely experience 5 emotional stages. Of these stages, the most torturous stage-- and most essential-- is the Agony.

In any creative process, you'll likely experience 5 emotional stages. Of these stages, the most torturous stage-- and most essential-- is the Agony.

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15 of 12 Post a comment

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
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  • OK, I really need a love-this-beyond-all-reason button! 'Like' just ain't gonna do it. ;)

    Thanks so much for posting this, Sally!
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  • reframing the process of creation (including self-doubt)
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  • Beautiful Sally - you nailed the process and made me smile!
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  • Hey, thanks to all of you for the wonderful comments! I got inspired by your feedback, and developed a post that describes the background on this piece. It outlines the birth of this SlideShare.

    Here's your look inside my head: http://sallyhogshead.com/how-i-turned-a-good-idea-into-a-fascinating-one/3798/

    Quite fittingly, it's my own personal '5 emotional steps of the creative process' that I went through while creating these 5 emotional steps of the creative process.

    Let me know what you think.
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  • great figure on page 4
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Sit on the Throne of Agony Presentation Transcript

  • 1. SIT IN THE Throne of Agony
  • 2. Every creative process SAY, FOR EXAMPLE, WRITING A BLOG POST or CREATING AN AD CAMPAIGN or PREPARING A PITCH or LAUNCHING A NEW PRODUCT or DEVELOPING A LOGO DESIGN or COOKING A DINNER PARTY has 5 emotional stages...
  • 3. 5 EMOTIONAL STAGES OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS 1. POSSIBILITY 2. DOUBT 3. AGONY 4. EPIPHANY 5. FINESSE Here’s how to diagnose which stage you’re in...
  • 4. HAPPINESSTIME
  • 5. STAGE 1: POSSIBILITY? WHATʼS REALLY GOING ON You’re coming up with all the easy stuff. You might have some interesting starter ideas, but really, you probably have nothing. WHAT IT FEELS LIKE Fun • Exploration • Free-range thinking WHAT YOUʼRE SAYING TO YOURSELF Here’s a cool idea. Here’s another one. And another. This is pretty fun, and you know what, I’m pretty good.
  • 6. STAGE 2: DOUBT? WHATʼS REALLY GOING ON As you begin to look at your ideas more closely, you realize, um… they’re actually not that great. Doubt begins to set in. And it’s about to get a whole lot worse. The prospect of failure sets in. WHAT IT FEELS LIKE Uncertainty • Feeling lost • Defensiveness • Questioning the process, the expectations, and even yourself. WHAT YOUʼRE SAYING TO YOURSELF This project is unrealistic. The budget is too small. It’s my client’s fault / It’s my boss’s fault / It’s my partner’s fault.
  • 7. STAGE 3: AGONY? WHATʼS REALLY GOING ON The most grueling of all steps in the creative process, this is a red-blooded struggle. It’s a hard. You feel like a hack. You want to quit. WHAT IT FEELS LIKE Torture. WHAT YOUʼRE SAYING TO YOURSELF I’m a hack. I’ve always been a hack and I’m about to be exposed as the hack I really am. Every great idea I’ve ever come up with up to this point was a fluke. Ughhhhh. This seriously sucks.
  • 8. STAGE 4: EPIPHANY? WHATʼS REALLY GOING ON Breakthrough! You’ve done it! You invented a very big and very new idea. While you were feeling emotionally exhausted by the Agony, now instantly you’re elated by the sweet euphoria of success. This makes it all worth it. Something resembling a swagger might begin to emerge. WHAT IT FEELS LIKE A burst of energy • Self-validation • Relief WHAT YOUʼRE SAYING TO YOURSELF This is why I do what I do. Creativity rocks.
  • 9. STAGE 5: FINESSE? WHATʼS REALLY GOING ON As you tweak your initial raw idea, you’re crafting it to be smarter, more strategic, and more purposeful. You’re crafting the best possible expression of your idea. Now your skill and training really begins to shine through, as you hone and refine your concept into the best possible execution. WHAT IT FEELS LIKE Focus • Purposeful engagement • Goal-oriented progress WHAT YOUʼRE SAYING TO YOURSELF What’s my next assignment?
  • 10. PART OF THE CREATIVEPROCESS IS FUN.PART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS IS TERRIFYING. AND PAINFUL.AND ABSURDLY DIFFICULT. THE CREATIVE PROCESS FUN TERRIFYING PAINFUL ABSURDLY DIFFICULTIT MAKES SENSE TO LOATHE THE AGONY, TO WANT TO HURRYTHROUGH IT, AND GET ON TO A MORE COMFORTABLE STAGE. But here’s what I want to propose:
  • 11. The Agony is the most important part of the whole process.THE AGONY IS WHERE NEWIDEAS COME FROM.This is the point in the process when you have a massive opportunity tocreate something truly new. AGONY IS: the best part. where inspiration lives. where you can do something breathtaking, THE ECSTASY. something the world has never seen.
  • 12. If you want anepiphany,you need to sit YOU ARE HEREyour butt inTHE THRONEOF AGONY.
  • 13. BORING IDEAS ARECHEAP. FASCINATINGIDEAS ARE PRECIOUS. Anyone can come up with a bunch of boring ideas. That’s easy. The question is: do you have the tenacity to keep going, to keep pushing through the Agony? Fascinating ideas are never easy. They’re not supposed to be easy. If they were easy, they wouldn’t be so valuable.
  • 14. There’s a reason it’s ca%ed a “breakthrough.” You have to break through something.
  • 15. ARE YOU SITTING IN THETHRONE OF AGONY?IF YOU CAN EXPECT THAT THERE WILL BE A POINT INTHE PROCESS WHEN YOU FEEL DISCOURAGED, IF YOUCAN ANTICIPATE THE STRUGGLE AND STOP RESISTING,THEN YOU CAN ACTUALLY START TO CREATE. CRE•ATE (v). to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.
  • 16. I GO THROUGH THIS VERY SAMETORTUROUS, MADDENING, GLORIOUS AGONY.When I was creating a new speaking video, I went througha% 5 stages of the creative process: 1. Possibility 2. Doubt 3. Agony 4. Epiphany 5. FinesseI was tempted to just hurry and finish it when things got*ustrating. Yet I wanted it to be rea%y great. So I quitcomplaining, and embraced the stru+le.
  • 17. Can I show you how this process turned out? CLICK ME
  • 18. CREATIVE - OR -COMFORTABLE {Pick one.}
  • 19. THE NEXT TIME YOU FEELYOURSELF STRUGGLINGIN THE CREATIVE PROCESS,PAUSE FOR A MINUTE.Recognize that now, fina%y, you have the potential to startcreating something truly extraordinary.Now you’ve worked through a% the easy ideas.Now is the stage when things can start getting rea%y good. And stop beating yourself up for feeling insecure, because the truth is, just about anyone who’s ever tried to create something big and real and meaningful has stru+led with the fear inherent in this stage.
  • 20. JUST BECAUSE ITʼSHARD DOESNʼT MEANITʼS WRONG.JUST BECAUSE YOUFEEL LIKE A HACKDOESNʼT MEAN YOUARE A HACK.IT MEANS THAT NOW, FINALLY, YOUʼRE READY TOCREATE SOMETHING TRULY EXTRAORDINARY.
  • 21. THE REALITY IS,CREATIVITY IS SLOPPYAND IMPERFECT.Creativity simply isn’t a rational.It’s sweaty and red-blooded.Tempestuous.It wakes up at 2 am stru+ling whether to tweak aheadline one hundredth of an inch, or start over entirely.The best results do not follow a rigid or predictable process.
  • 22. AS MUCH AS IT SUCKS, YOUCANNOT SKIP THE AGONY.Look, we all need to trim time and costs. No question. That’s a reality.And on the surface, it might seem like a smart idea to cut out the stagethat feels least productive.Y in our quest to gain efficiencies, we’re losing room to fail and explore. etY results will only succeed to the degree that you’re allowed to fail. ourTHE AGONY IS A VALUABLE, HEALTHY, ANDNECESSARY PART OF CREATING ANYTHINGWORTHWHILE.
  • 23. Just because eBooks make it possible to printTechnology keepsgetting faster. a book in a few minutes doesn’t mean that theBut creativity will amount of time requiredalways operate on to actually write a bookits own timeline. — to conceive the idea, to articulate the argument, to craft the language— is any faster.
  • 24. HOW TO GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGHSPACE TO STRUGGLE IN THE AGONY?BEFORE THE CREATIVE PROCESS BEGINS, HEREʼS WHAT TOTELL YOUR TEAM (INCLUDING YOUR PARTNERS AND BOSS): “I realize we have a limited timeline, and that we need to crack our solution ASAP. But if we truly want the best result, we can’t shortcut the process so drastica%y that we end up presenting and producing a lame idea.” YOU MIGHT REMIND THEM THAT LAME IDEAS END UP BEING FAR MORE EXPENSIVE. THEY COST AS MUCH TO EXECUTE AS A BRILLIANT IDEA, YET GENERALLY GET PRETTY MEDIOCRE RESULTS.
  • 25. HOW TO GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGHSPACE TO STRUGGLE IN THE AGONY?BEFORE THE CREATIVE PROCESS BEGINS, HEREʼS WHAT TOTELL YOUR CLIENTS: “Let’s build in enough space in this process to stru+le past the quick and easy ideas, and actua%y bring you something that wi% be persuasive and memorable enough to deliver the results we a% want to achieve on this project.” IF YOU CAN ANTICIPATE THAT THE AGONY WILL BE PART OF THE PROCESS, YOU CAN APPROACH IT WITH THE PURPOSE AND RESPECT IT DESERVES.
  • 26. FOR ALL ITS MADDENING IMPRECISION,creativity always triumphs.INFORMATION COMES AND GOES.TRANSACTIONS CAN BE OUTSOURCED.TECHNOLOGY BECOMES OBSOLETE.OPINIONS CHANGE, AND TASTES CHANGE.BUT CREATIVITY WILL ALWAYS BE ESSENTIAL.AND RARE. BECAUSE IT HAS TO COME FROM YOU.
  • 27. Not Google. Not Apple. Not Twitter. You ARE THE ULTIMATE TECHNOLOGY.
  • 28. For you, a few easy tweetable bits to sharethese ideas:• Thereʼs a reason itʼs called a “breakthrough.” You have to BREAK THROUGH something. RT@sallyhogshead SHARE• Creative or comfortable? Pick one. RT@sallyhogshead SHARE• Boring ideas are cheap. Fascinating ideas are precious. RT@sallyhogshead SHARE• Not Google. Not Apple. Not Twitter. YOU are the ultimate technology. RT@sallyhogshead SHARE• Creativity will always be essential. And rare. Because it has to come from YOU. @sallyhogshead SHARE• Technology keeps getting faster. But creativity will always operate on its own timeline. RT@sallyhogshead SHARE• The reality is: creativity is sloppy, imperfect, and irrational. RT@sallyhogshead SHARE• If you want an epiphany, you need to sit your butt in the Throne of Agony. RT@sallyhogshead SHARE
  • 29. A HOGSHEAD IS A BARREL THAT HOLDS 62 GALLONS. SO WHATʼS YOUR NAME, SMARTASS?EMAIL Fascinate@SallyHogshead.com Find out how youTWITTER @SallyHogshead persuade and captivate: F SCOREFACEBOOK Facebook.com/HowToFascinateNEWSLETTER Click here to join. The fascination personality test