The 4 stages of the creative process

Many times when I speak with people I find them being stuck in one of the stages that I describe below so I wanted to share with you what I believe is the natural way of how things happen.

As you read through the different stages I want you to see if you can recognize where you are at the moment and also become aware of where you might be most of the time because it will help you become more aware of how things will naturally have to unfold from wherever you find yourself in these stages.

Too often I find people dwelling maybe a little bit too long in one stage and some are even stuck there for very long periods because of their lack of self-awareness.

I will call the 4 different stages after the seasons of the year;

Winter, spring, summer and fall.

Let’s begin where I believe every great things starts and has its beginning: From within.


This is a time of quiet reflection and introspection where we go within to receive internal guidance and where we don’t feel like being around other people that much.

It’s winter time and we like to cozy up with books and we might journal and write a lot, we do inner work, walk in nature and enjoy stillness and solitude.

We evaluate things in our lives, review what needs to let go of, what we need and want and so on.

You become clear, you know what you want and what you don’t want anymore. 

It’s a very important time because in this period we come to conclusions and decisions and we make choices that will help us move forward and upward in our lives.

It can be a very intense time emotionally – and internally and inwardly very reflective.

Words like resting, connecting with the Truth within you, renewing, letting go and making room describes this phase of the creative process best. 

This is where we receive guidance and make important choices (not by taking action but by deciding within) and where we have clear insights and revelations about our life.

STAGE 2: SPRING (New life/aliveness)

Now when you have cleared things for yourself in the wintertime it’s time to take action.

You feel refreshed and renewed, you have new energy and you feel mentally clear (because you did profound inner work in the wintertime phase), and you can now begin developing your ideas that came to you.

You feel more active, ambitious/driven and outward-oriented in terms of ‘doing’ and ready to take on the world.

This is the perfect time to initiate what became clear to you in the wintertime, so this is when you begin to take action and you might even feel super-productive and inspired during the springtime phase (I know I do!).

Words like action, active, enthusiastic and believing in yourself (confidence) describes this phase best.

This is where actions are taken and where things begin to happen because of that.


Now we move from taking action into relating and interacting with others (we bring ourselves to the world).

We reach out to others and feel more communicative and we feel more loving towards others; we want to share, inspire others and we tend to go out more, meet other people more and socialize.

It’s bonding time, an easy-going time where we are more emphatic and emotionally focused. (On love, community, sharing etc). 

It’s productive but in a different way than the previous phase of the creative process because here we take what we gained from going within and from having taken the needed action-steps in the previous stages and we take it out to the world.

We give, we share, we bond, we love, we inspire others, it’s an outgoing energy but in a more relational way rather than pure action-taking.

Words like communication, networking, understanding and care for others describes this phase best. 

This is where we reach out to others and we give and share from the heart.

STAGE 4: FALL/AUTUMN (death/endings)

This is reality-check time.

In this phase we go within again and we redo and edit (tweak/improve) the things we did in the previous (outer) action-phase.

We become clear about what worked and what didn’t so we release and let go and we explore new ideas that can improve previous ideas, and we might even get new insights that comes from letting go of what didn’t work.

Here’s where the creative phase reaches its peak; it’s here that it happens finally. You begin to see results and it’s also a time of completions and endings.

(One creative phase has ended and a new is around the corner).

You might edit and polish previous work and redirect yourself where you have gone off path and so on before you move on to the next wintertime.

You get real with yourself in this phase of the creative process. 

Things comes up from your subconscious mind that you need to have a closer look at, you might get deep insights into things you need to change or clarify for yourself.

You are preparing yourself for yet another period of quietude and solitude (wintertime).

You clear clutter, you get rid of things, you end relationship that are not working and you might even quit your job that you feel is draining you, things like that.

The words that describe this phase best are “getting real with yourself”, self-love and realignment. You identify problems or issues and you decide to either regain something or you decide to express something, but you do take action and it’s not always easy but it is always necessary. 

It’s a creative time, you get inspired easily and you do what you know you need to do so it’s a little bit like a mishmash of all the other phases – this makes it the most creative phase because here’s the culmination of things that has happened since the last winter in your life.

And then when you’re ready, when you have cut your losses so to speak you’re ready to move on to the next wintertime where you then again reassess your life, you look at what your priorities (and values) are and will be in the next new cycle of the creative process.

Here’s what I want to bring up with you because this is what I see in many people; they get stuck in one of these stages.

Here’s a few examples:

Someone who’s stuck in wintertime becomes a navel-gazing hermit.

You become someone who analyses life to pieces and who withdraw more and more from the world and other people. You might become aloof and too detached from your physical reality and even neglect it thinking that the spiritual life is all there is.

Someone who’s stuck in springtime becomes a workaholic who never takes a break.

You become someone who is always doing something, whether it’s actually productive or not; you’re always “busy” and you always say you don’t have time, especially when it comes to meditation and the like (=”spiritual” things).

Someone who’s stuck in summertime becomes too attached to entertainment and never gets anything done.

You become someone who likes to have fun a little too much and too often, or you become too giving to others and neglect yourself and your own needs. Your energy becomes weak (and you risk becoming a doormat) because you don’t take time to nurture yourself, only others (or your ego by feeding it whatever it fancies at the time).

You get the idea.

And if someone is stuck in either one of these stages they never get to the autumn or fall where things comes to a culmination and ending before a new creative cycle begins.

The fall is where you really get into the flow, you feel very much in tune with yourself and life (because you have followed its natural unfolding during the other stages) and you experience lots of creativity and inspiration because of that.

Here’s also where solutions come to you, people and resources find their way to you that can help and support you to the next stage of your life and where you brainstorm and get ideas into place.

The word that really describes this phase is manifestation.

Things fall into place both within you and in your physical life experience. 

It’s a time of embodiment and locking things into place and after have done that you are ready to go within again and begin a new cycle of the creative process of life and how it unfolds through the different stages.

So look at where you are at the moment and see how you can jolt yourself into the next stage if you feel you have been in one particular phase a bit too long and you don’t know what to do or how to move forward.

Here are four questions that will help you click into place again with your natural flow regardless of where you find yourself in your own creative process:

(Write the answers down, don’t just think them in your head).

  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • What do I need to start doing?
  • What do I need to do less of?
  • What do I need to do more of?

And lastly;

  • Who is going to do it?
  • And when?

Make a commitment to get back into alignment with your own natural flow by doing what you know needs to be done whether it has to do with you having to slow down and do less or if it’s about you needing to go deep within and connect spiritually with yourself.

Or maybe you see that you have to more sociable with other people, spending more time with friends and family and so on or maybe you come to the realization that you have to stop being a couch potato and waste your life on things like partying too much.

The answers to the four questions are always very clear to us once we ask them and then to actually say it out loud that “I am going to do it and I am going to start doing what needs to be done now, today, right now!”, that’s when life shifts gear and you will feel a sense of progress and forward movement.

Flow will then be felt (as your awareness increases) in all stages because you know the significance of each stage.

You come to realize that they are all equally important and the more we surrender to the low energy days knowing that the high energy days are just around the corner the more enjoyable life becomes.

And the more self-aware you become the more attentive and aware you become about when one phase ends and a new is beginning; you become very aware of the transition time so you come to use each phase efficiently and productively.

It is just as productive to go inward as it is to go outward; both stages are important to honor and to enjoy as much as you can.

When you have a low energy day or period; have them fully and when you are in a powerful go-getter mode, use it to the fullest and don’t let it go to waste by not honoring those days and periods as well.

Creative process phases
Where do you find yourself in the four stages of the creative process?


It’s important to honor both the low and high energy days as both are equally important.

I have taken “Maria-days” now and then for as long as I can remember. Those are the days when I don’t do anything at all other than giving myself rest, love and care.

Those days are important for all of us I believe, days that are only for ourselves.

Days where we don’t do anything; no inner nor outer work but simply just spend some time “being”.

Being lazy and letting everything else take care of itself for a while.

There are times when we’re not inspired to do anything at all and those periods are also a part of the creative process and they happen now and then suddenly; we just know within ourselves when we have such a day.

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  1. Miki

    Thanks for the article Maria.

    I feel this 4 stage principal and some other spiritual teachings apply only to the people freed from the past, am I right?

    For me since like 15 years ago when I started suffering from trauma in relationships it’s been winter. ( Before that was I wasn’t even conscious of the pattern of my living based on the ego and fear, so I was actually happy in a way )

    I don’t feel bitter but sad that I haven’t even reached where I have freedom of choice because I’m too much driven by the past still.

    But every day I pray what kind of action I need to do to take one step towards releasing unwillingness to forgive and try to drop all thoughts.

  2. You are always in the creative process Miki, we are all always in every moment in a momentum of something, we are always in a process of creating something, and what that something is, is totally up to us.

    But you can’t get away from the process itself, although you can be creating the same old same old for years if you’re keeping yourself in the past and are unwilling to let it go and move past it.

    You, we, are always in our free will, always.

    That means that whatever you include in your life and consciousness, also becomes part of your life and consciousness.

    Hold on to the past and you create more of the same; you can keep rehearsing the same old thought-patterns and triggers, or you can choose to let go and focus on the Here and Now and the path moving forwards.

    It’s like when you’re watching TV for example and the current program displeases you, you don’t try to change or transform the program or the people and situations in it.

    Instead, you simply choose another program that you do prefer, and you transform yourself and then everything on the outside changes too.

    The contrast in our lives are always there to help us choose something we would rather experience and have, but many people get stuck in the contrast itself (because they don’t know this), and then they of course also continue to dwell in the past, many times for years and even decades.

    CHOOSE a different ‘program’;

    You get to decide what you want to ‘see’ (believe and think and thus create), and knowing that you have a choice is so powerful, this is what you have your free will for.

    You can choose to let go and allow yourself to be happy and free, that’s totally in your hands and nothing on the outside has any power over you in that regard.

    It’s an internal choice and decision, you make it for yourself, so that you can free yourself from the emotional prison that unforgiveness and holding on to the past creates.

    I think this can be helpful to you:

  3. Miki

    Thank you Maria.

    I have looked inside my triggers, emotions, and saw ego-centered perspectives and chose to let go and forgive the people, myself and the whole situations many times.
    But nothing has changed and came to depression thinking there must be something wrong with me. Do I just keep doing it again while waiting patiently…?

  4. The “there must be something wrong with me”-part is the ego too!

    That’s what it does (it has a way of making you believe things about yourself that are not true), and it’s very convincing, so that part is what you need to get past, and the self-awareness articles will help you overcome being stuck in an identity that is not yours.

    Or, I can help you with that part in a private session.

  5. Miki

    And I have been willing to forgive because I have been sick of the dram I keep repeating in my life.
    And i haven’t found things to forgive about my childhood life, but I keep getting triggered by intimate relationships

    and I look inside and choose to forgive although I haven’t found anything to forgive about that people who I think was the cause ….and this comes back to the beginning and continue forever…

  6. To be triggered because of what other people are saying doesn’t have to be made into a huge thing;

    It’s simply a learning/growth experience where you look within yourself as ask yourself what the trigger was about, discover what it is, extract the learning from it, and then you simply move on from it (after having forgiven yourself, them, and the situation).

    You don’t have to make it a bigger deal than what it is, it was just a learning experience, that’s all.

  7. Miki

    This pain body keeps getting bigger and bigger every time I get into a relationship. It’s uncontrollable now. Maybe I’m just made to be alone forever.

    Speaking of being more friendly, I was friendly and knew God, but I was never confident. This insecurity was revealed every time I get in a relationship too.
    And I thought I was friendly only for validation ( so out of guilt and shame both?) and I lost how to connect with people since then and I don’t know who I am.

    I want a session with you but I’m so lost and focused on figuring out how to let go of unwillingness to forgive, which I have no idea how to do it right because I did it myself so many times

    But I feel that’s the answer to my real identity too.

    I hope my English is making sense.

  8. Miki

    Maria thank you so much for being so supportive.

    I have fallen in the same trap again, wanting somebody close ( for now it’s you) to understand me, love me. But the only person who can understand and love me is God and myself.

    I will work on this, be compassionate with myself, but stay open to other things God tells me to do, for letting go of the past too.

    I will enjoy reading your articles on that, self worth and embracing myself.

  9. Wherever you focus your energies, that’s the direction your life will take.

    So you can continue digging in the past, looking for faults in yourself, trying to figure things out that way, or you can just drop the whole thing like a hot potato and start focusing on the Here and Now and your future.

    Because in reality, your past is dead,

    It’s only your attention and focus on it that keeps it alive.

    So you can just drop the past by starting to focus on your future and how you’d like to live your life instead.

    I would love to help you, so whenever you’re ready to have a session, you know where to find me. 😊

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